Olympics to boost B.C. economy by $775 million 

Conference Board of Canada predicts B.C. will lead nation in growth

According to the latest economic numbers released by the Conference Board of Canada, B.C. is expected to lead the rest of the country in growth through 2010.

The economy is predicted to grow 3.7 per cent over 2010, with the Olympic Winter Games providing an estimated $770 million to the bottom line. Other boosters include a recovering forestry industry and some increases in manufacturing.

Federal government stimulus spending is also part of the reason the provincial economy is expected to grow, so while the province's fortunes are improving the federal government's own finances are sinking deeper into deficit.

Reports released on the eve of the Olympics suggest that the federal government will clamp down on new spending and make massive cuts in the budget to curtail the estimated $56 billion deficit for this year - Canada's largest ever.

While almost $18 billion is expected to be recovered as revenues rise along with the economy, that still leaves a deficit of more than $38 billion. The federal government has hinted it will bridge some of the gap with spending cuts and restructuring of programs.

The Conservative Party ruled out increasing taxes to make up the shortfall after a poll suggested Canadians were opposed.

Although details of the budget will be released today (Feb. 26), opposition parties are already voicing their concern over programs like the popular Home Renovation Tax Credit, which provides tax breaks to Canadians who renovate their homes to make them more energy efficient. They also questioned why the Conservatives prorogued Parliament for three months for a budget that appears to be similar to last year's with a few minor changes.

National growth is expected to be in the range of 2.8 per cent through 2010.



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