Moody’s reaffirms B.C.’s AAA credit rating ahead of provincial budget

The British Columbia Legislature building in Victoria, B.C. is lit up at dusk. Don Denton/TCPI/The Canadian Press

With a month to go before the NDP delivers its first full budget, ratings agency Moody’s has reaffirmed the province’s AAA long-term credit rating.

The move keeps B.C. as the only province in Canada with a triple-A rating from all three international rating houses, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch.

S&P affirmed the province’s rating in December, while Fitch last rated B.C. in November.

READ MORE: B.C. maintains AAA credit rating under new government

Finance Minister Carole James said the rating came on the back of a strong B.C. economy and “the provincial government’s prudent fiscal management and budgeting safeguards.”

In its rating report, Moody’s pointed specifically to diversification in the B.C. economy, which it said “reduces the vulnerability of the provincial economy from sector-specific or trading partner-specific shocks, including uncertainty with US trade policies including NAFTA negotiations.”

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READ MORE: B.C. budget: Is B.C.’s credit rating at risk?

It also cited strong GDP growth and low unemployment as core elements in the rating.

The strong credit rating means lower borrowing costs for the province, along with lower costs to service B.C.’s $69-billion debt.

READ MORE: How True Is It? Eliminating tolls on Port Mann, Golden Ears bridges will threaten B.C.’s credit rating

Questions about the province’s credit rating have been swirling since the NDP eliminated tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, adding $3.5 billion to B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt load.

That move changed the ratio of taxpayer supported debt to provincial revenue from around 82 per cent to more than 91 per cent, raising concerns from some analysts that the province’s credit rating could be downgraded.

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