A record-high $966 million in wildfire spending and lower natural gas prices have added $2.5 billion to British Columbia's projected deficit for this fiscal year. 

The new projection of $6.7 billion comes as Finance Minister Katrine Conroy releases the province's first-quarterly report for 2023-2024.

The report says updated wildfire expenses are $762 million more than planned for in Budget 2023, while revenue from natural gas royalties fell by $1.2 billion as prices declined.

Conroy says the province had already taken into account a possible drop in natural gas revenue in this year's budget projections, but didn't anticipate prices dropping as much as they did.

The provincial economy preformed better than expected this year with economic growth forecast at 1.2 per cent, but the government says that is likely to slow to about 0.8 per cent, just over half of what was expected for 2024. 

Conroy says B.C.'s diverse economy and strong financial planning puts the province in a good position to weather global uncertainties like inflation and high interest rates.  

The minister said in February that there would likely be deficits "in the coming years" and that "things probably aren't going to be quite as rosy" as last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.