VICTORIA -- British Columbia's budget deficit is expected to be lower than forecast but the COVID-19 pandemic remains a risk to the economy.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson says the province's financial statement for the first three months of the 2021-22 fiscal year projects a deficit of $4.8 billion, about half the $9.7 billion that was originally forecast in the budget.

She says the lower deficit projection is the result of an improved job market along with higher revenues from natural resources and federal transfers.

Robinson says B.C.'s economy is forecast to grow by four per cent, slightly higher than the 3.8 per cent projected in the budget.

But she says the COVID-19 pandemic creates uncertainly and poses a threat to the economic recovery.

Robinson says the cost of fighting this summer's wildfires will also put pressure on the budget.