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B.C. economic growth slowing to 0.5% next year, private forecasters say

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Private-sector forecasters in British Columbia say they agree with the government's recent projection that economic growth will slow next year.

The Economic Forecast Council, an independent 13-member group, met Finance Minister Katrine Conroy on Monday and told her they foresee 0.5-per-cent growth in 2024, slightly below Conroy's recent forecast of 0.7 per cent.

B.C. finance ministers traditionally meet annually with the forecast council ahead of the introduction of the government's budget, set for Feb. 22.

Conroy last week said slowing global economies and inflation in Canada were contributing to her downgraded economic growth prediction.

The Ministry of Finance says in a statement most forecast council members said the impact of past Bank of Canada interest rate hikes haven't be fully felt and housing affordability and supply remain challenges.

Opposition BC United finance critic Peter Milobar, who attended the forecast council's meetings, says he heard concerns about a lack of future development, now that major projects including oil and gas pipelines, the Kitimat liquefied natural gas terminal and the Site C dam are nearing completion.

"Despite (increased) immigration masking a lot of structural problems with our economy and not making it look like a recession, in people's households they are very much feeling like it's a recession," he said at a news conference.

Conroy last week said B.C.'s economy is projected to grow by about one per cent this year, a dip from the forecast in September of 1.2-per-cent growth.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2023.

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