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Finance Minister Carole James releases the provincial public accounts report during a press conference at the press gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on July 18, 2019.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

The British Columbia government ended its fiscal year in an operating surplus of $1.5-billion with the collection of more revenue from taxation and less money from a softening real estate market.

The 2018-19 public accounts released on Thursday by Finance Minister Carole James show the province has eliminated its operating deficit for the first time in 40 years.

The higher-than-expected surplus is primarily the result of $2.9-billion in increased revenue, largely driven by higher personal and corporate income tax and new taxes including a speculation tax and employer health tax.

Ms. James says she isn’t concerned about a $315-million reduction in property-transfer-tax revenue, saying the previous Liberal government relied on a speculative real estate market to increase resources while her NDP government has a long-term economic plan.

She says her budget in 2018 put B.C. on a different path with a record $1-billion investment in child care and $7-billion for affordable housing, and the surplus puts B.C. in a stable position amid signs of global economic insecurity.

Ms. James also says her government has chosen to confront financial challenges at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and BC Hydro, and both Crown corporations are now on more sustainable paths.

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