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Business in Vancouver: High-growth companies debate allure of Vancouver

[Excerpt]  Despite the challenges high-growth companies face when headquartered in Vancouver, the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) is banking on the city’s advantages as an attractive place to live.

In February, the BCBC’s $6.5 million HQ Vancouver program began identifying targets and building business cases for corporate relocations from Asia to B.C.

Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the BCBC, told Business in Vancouver at the time of the launch that Montreal, Toronto and Calgary have all been far more assertive carving out niches for corporate headquarters for aerospace, financial services and oil and gas companies.

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Business in Vancouver: B.C. business eyes Seattle's $15 minimum wage experiment

[Excerpt]  Economists, labour leaders and business groups agree it’s time B.C. followed a yearly process for predictable increases to the minimum wage. Other Canadian provinces and several U.S. states already tie their minimum wage to inflation. 

 B.C.’s previous ad hoc approach led to the province’s hourly minimum wage being frozen at $8 between 2001 and 2011. That stasis was not good for B.C.’s economy, said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of BC.

“We were concerned that freezing it was reducing the purchasing power of the people who are paid at minimum wage,” Finlayson said, “and that it was also going to build up pressure for a big jump in the minimum wage, which is just what happened.” 

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Finlayson said studies by economists have shown that small increases in the minimum wage don’t have a negative impact on employment. But far less is known about the impact of a big increase. 

 “We don’t have a lot of real-world examples in the kind of things Seattle is doing,” Finlayson said.

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Jock Finlayson kicks off CKNW's Putting BC to Work

Jock discusses the importance of entrepreneurship to BC's economy with Jon McComb as part of the CKNW series, Putting BC to Work

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Nanaimo Business News: BC Business Council Supports Minimum Wage Plan

The Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) has offered its support to the Provincial Government’s announced revisions of the province’s minimum wage structure. “The Business Council supports the government’s decision March 12 to implement a modest increase of the statutory minimum wage of $0.20 to $10.45 and to index future increases to the consumer price index as the Council has previously advocated,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia.

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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Slower hikes to minimum wage make more sense

[Excerpt] A policy paper last year by the Business Council of B.C. cited research showing “small periodic adjustments have little impact on the demand for labour or overall employment. But larger increases in wage costs carry a greater risk of labour displacement,” with greatest effects felt by the younger, less experienced workers who most rely on minimum wage work.

In other words, unless big hikes in the minimum wage are accompanied by equally sudden and substantial gains in productivity, employers seek ways to cut their labour costs, to maintain whatever profit they have come to rely on.

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Bond’s announcement of the $10.45 minimum, with regular increases going forward, will be welcomed by most people and was swiftly endorsed by the B.C. Business Council. This is an expensive place to live and the wage hike, along with other social program improvements recently announced by the province, will assist those on modest incomes.

B.C. needs always to be mindful of maintaining its competitiveness, something that would become difficult if its minimum wage were to be significantly higher than elsewhere in Canada.

As business council policy chief Jock Finlayson warns, “there’s no free lunch in economics.”

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future: What will the future look like?

Imagine — if you can conjure up such an improbable fantasy — a government of the not-too-distant future decreeing that all B.C.’s landscape-altering hydro dams be removed, and flooded land and river courses returned to their natural state.

This scenario is such a stretch that Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, cites it to illustrate his point that, once massive energy investments have been made, no one is likely to walk away from them in a hurry.

Ergo, come hell or high water, Site C or no Site C, the dam-building decisions of the W.A.C. Bennett era more than half a century ago will ensure this province remains highly dependent on hydro electricity for a long time to come.

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future — Government role vital to propel clean, sustainable alternatives

[Excerpt] But Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C., notes that even if policy decisions jump-starts an industry here, there will be limits to how much of a boost it can provide.

“The share of renewables in the world’s energy mix is inching up, and I expect this to continue,” he said in an interview. “But it’s at a very slow pace.

“If you look at the history of energy consumption, changes like this aren’t a decades-long process, they’re a centuries-long process. Even if you have new technologies, it is going to take a long time to displace the existing ones. So most of the global growth that we’re seeing now will be driven by fossil fuels.”

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future — Natural gas prospects clouded by competitive marketplace

[Excerpt]  As well, Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of B.C. Business Council, worries that the province may be on the cusp of being branded as a difficult place to do business, thanks to regulatory torpor and what sometimes looks like First Nations’ and environmentalists’ opposition to everything.

That perception isn’t totally fair, he said in an interview. Disputes over environmental protection can be and often are settled politically. As well, a lot of business-First Nations partnerships are moving ahead, and many things are getting built.

“But there are days I wonder how anything gets done,” he confessed. “We aren’t there yet, but I see a risk this is how we’ll come to be seen.”

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: Tie minimum wage increases to inflation, but start a bit higher

The province is doing the correct thing by tying future minimum wages increases to inflation, although you’d never guess it from the outraged reaction to Jobs Minister Shirley Bond’s announcement on Thursday.

The government is vilified and Bond is ridiculed in most of the responses I’ve seen, although the odd voice — B.C. Business Council’s executive vice-president Jock Finlayson, for example — does give credit where credit is due.

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Times Colonist: B.C.’s minimum wage to rise 20 cents to $10.45 in September

[Excerpt] The Business Council of B.C. issued a statement expressing support for the “fair and predictable” approach to setting the minimum wage.

Executive vice-president Jock Finlayson said the new policy will allow employee wages to keep pace with inflation, while giving small businesses a tool to manage labour costs.

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Bloomberg: Canada’s West Coast on Timber to Tech Economic Rebound

[Excerpt] The outlook isn’t all blue sky. British Columbia’s mining industry is in the doldrums, hurt by low prices for metals and coal used in steelmaking. Metals and energy exports accounted for about a third of B.C. exports by dollar value last year, according to government data.

Prospects for the rapid development of British Columbia’s nascent liquefied natural gas industry also have been “dimmed” by turmoil in energy markets, Jock Finlayson, policy chief at the Business Council of British Columbia, said last week by phone.

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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Is there a peak for Metro housing prices? Impossible to say

Vancouver is reaching the outer limits of conceivable pricing for home buyers. That view, expressed recently by Business Council of B.C. executive vice-president Jock Finlayson, reflects the sentiments of many.

However, similar observations have been made in the past. Still, the cost of housing in the Vancouver area has kept climbing. It is impossible to predict when the pricing peak truly will be reached.

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BC Business Magazine: B.C. will lead Canada in economic growth in 2015: report

Echoing a report from the Business Council of B.C. last month, the Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook: Winter 2015 predicts B.C. will lead Canada in economic growth this year, followed by Ontario and Manitoba. The reasons: a low Canadian dollar, a stronger U.S. economy and stronger consumer confidence. Lower oil prices will hurt provinces like Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.For Canada as a whole, economic growth will be just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared to 2.4 per cent in 2014.

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CFTK-TV Terrace: Donaldson Not Impressed With BC Budget

[EXCERPT] The budget is drawing praise from business leaders but criticism from social advocates.

Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of BC says the business world doesn't want to see any surprises on budget day and Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivered.

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Bloomberg (Business News Network): British Columbia to cut bond sales on third straight surplus

[EXCERPT] “British Columbia is managing its books, including the accumulation of debt, with an eye on the credit rating agencies for sure,” Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer of the Business Council of British Columbia, said in an interview. “It’s a top priority for the finance minister and the premier.”

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Vancouver housing prices rise, but folks keep on buying

[EXCERPT] Someone is doing the buying. But it’s hard to fathom how the average Vancouverite can afford a lot of the property that is for sale, given that — as Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C. put it last week — “B.C. remains a middling income performer within the national context.”

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Additionally, notes the business council, 14.3 per cent of B.C. residents are low income, with income just half the after-tax median of all B.C. households. And, more than 15 per cent of B.C. children live in households below the low-income cutoff.

Finlayson calls the gap between Lower Mainland incomes and house prices “a puzzle that continues to generate a lot of discussion among economists and housing market analysts.”

He cites four factors that help explain the puzzle.

• Affluent immigrants are a big part of population growth in Metro Vancouver, and they favour home ownership.

• Interest rates are low, allowing people to crack the market.

• Many Lower Mainlanders have long owned their properties and today have minimal mortgages and considerable equity.

• People in the region are making compromises, opting for condos in the suburbs and living small. “Lots of families in this region are raising children in two-bedroom condos of under 900 square feet.”

• Others are adapting by getting creative. Says Finlayson, noting “they install basement suites, they have two generations of family living under the same roof, they get their parents to help, (some) operate small grow-ops in their basement.”

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Vancouver Sun: No tax increases, modest spending in budget earns praise from B.C. business leaders

[EXCERPT] And the balanced budget, without raising taxes, is a good starting point, according to Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of B.C.

“A lot of provinces are wrestling with significant budget deficits, or at least deteriorating fiscal positions,” Finlayson said. “B.C. at least stands out as being in a pretty strong position. That’s going to be well received by investors.”

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Globe and Mail: B.C. budget fails to help families make ends meet, critics say

[EXCERPT]  Jock Finlayson, an economist and executive vice president of the Business Council of B.C., said the government phasing out the 2-per cent tax hike won’t have a major impact on the economy, but could help lure more entrepreneurs and professionals to the province. He added that as a matter of “political philosophy,” B.C. and Alberta tax their richest earners considerably less than the other provinces, noting “it’s up to the voters to decide what they want.”

He said B.C.’s overall income tax rates are “fairly low” and families are more likely to worry about job opportunities than how much they pay the government in taxes.

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Globe and Mail: Balanced B.C. budget features higher user fees, little tax relief

[EXCERPT] But Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C. said the government’s management on the spending side has helped put the province on good footing, and applauded the cautious assumptions about revenues. He added that the budget demonstrates the benefit of a diverse economy that has protected the province from some of the wild swings of the past. “B.C. is not a boom/bust economy that people remember.”

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The Canadian Press (Global News): B.C. tables balanced budget

[EXCERPT] Business Council of B.C. vice-president Jock Finlayson applauded the news of yet another balanced budget.

“There are no big surprises in here,” he said. “For the business world, we don’t want big surprises, especially on budget day.”

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