BC credit rating slips; Moody's cites weaker economy, commodity prices

VICTORIA – The credit rating on B.C.’s debt has been downgraded to AAA-negative from AAA-stable by Moody’s Investors Service because of a softening economy and weaker commodity prices.

The change follows the release of the province’s second quarterly financial report last month by Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who reported the province’s annual deficit was projected to reach $1.47 billion, up from an earlier forecast of $1.1 billion.

De Jong blamed the problem on falling property taxes and lower prices for coal and natural gas, but insisted the government will still balance the budget next February.

NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston says the Moody’s downgrade makes if difficult to believe de Jong will be able to do that.

Moody’s Assistant Vice President Jennifer Wong says the company has lowered B.C.’s debt credit rating because of the risks the province faces in trying to check the rise in debt in the face of a softening economy and weaker commodity prices.

However, she says the province is working to hit its fiscal targets and if it’s able to do that the credit rating could be raised back to stable.