BC’s provincial government has a key role to play in shaping the province’s economy. Taxation, access to natural resources, transportation, education and skills development, environmental regulation, labour rules and many other social programs all fall under the provincial government’s jurisdiction. The Council conducts research and analysis on all these topics and regularly contributes to public-policy development at the provincial level.
Guest Author: Politicians, pipelines and paying heed to the rule of law
The new B.C. NDP government campaigned vociferously during the election that it would use every tool in its “tool kit” to stop an interprovincial pipeline expansion that is clearly within the sole jurisdiction of the federal government. There can be no doubt about the new government’s position and its overriding animus to the pipeline project.
BCBC Statement on New BC Government
The Business Council of British Columbia congratulates Premier John Horgan and his cabinet colleagues on being sworn in as British Columbia's new Government.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Economic policy advice for B.C.’s new ‘GreeNDP’ government (Business in Vancouver)
As a new B.C. provincial government gets ready to assume office, there is an opportunity for a fresh agenda and new perspectives. The BC NDP government will inherit an economy that has been outpacing the rest of the country in the growth of overall output, employment and consumer spending. However, B.C. also faces several structural challenges that in some ways belie the happy picture of robust economic growth. These challenges include excessive reliance on a frothy housing market and outsized real estate sector; alarming levels of household debt; tepid productivity growth; sluggish business investment; waning competitiveness in some key segments of the province’s export economy; and a housing affordability crisis that is affecting many parts of the Lower Mainland.
In these circumstances, the new government will need to proceed carefully in defining and implementing its policy agenda.
BC Economic Momentum Carries On
The BC economy remains healthy, with nearly all sectors contributing to the ongoing expansion. The momentum from last year is carrying forward more so than previously anticipated, prompting us to adjust our 2017 forecast upwards.
Statement from the Business Council of British Columbia on the designation of John Horgan as the incoming Premier of British Columbia
Today, the Business Council of British Columbia released the following statement from President and CEO, Greg D'Avignon
Finlayson & St. Laurent Op-Ed: A Tale of Two Economies: Leveraging Regional Immigration to Enhance Growth (PeopleTalk Spring 2017)
Two factors will largely determine the future trajectory of economic growth in British Columbia: productivity performance, and the extent to which the labour force expands over time. The hurdles to achieving long-term economic growth include an aging population, a low natural birth rate, and intense global competition for talent and capital.
Urbanization Feeds Divergence
The outlook for economic growth across B.C. is not uniform. In fact, ongoing urbanization and regional gaps in economic opportunity are feeding into a story of two increasingly diverging economies in the province.
Open letter to western premiers to attend the 2017 Western Governors’ Association meeting
Dear Premier Christy Clark, Premier Rachel Notley, Premier Brian Pallister and Premier Brad Wall:
The rules governing trade with, and access to, Canada’s first and third largest trading partners have come under attack – threatening two decades of growth and prosperity in western Canada.
For the citizens and businesses of western Canada, it is crucial that their governments, individually and collectively, take the lead to assure that unique western interests are represented in determining the future rules for trade in North America.
BC Election Series: Post-Secondary Education and Innovation in the Party Platforms
Providing the next generation with opportunities to acquire the right skills contributes to stronger economic and productivity growth and should be a top-of-mind goal for incoming decision-makers. All three parties contesting the May 9 election have made promises regarding post-secondary education and innovation.
BC Election Series: Housing Affordability, Supply and Related Tax Policy Issues
Real estate, home prices, rental units and affordability figure prominently in all three party platforms. Each party has developed a substantial narrative around housing/housing affordability, with each platform proposing several housing-related policy measures or new/revised programs.
Finlayson Op-Ed: The election and B.C.'s export economy (Vancouver Sun)
So far, the provincial election campaign has focused on issues such as housing, jobs, health care, education, social services and transportation. These all matter to voters, of course, but several other topics that have received little attention to date are also important in shaping B.C.’s long-term economic prosperity. One is export competitiveness.
In a small jurisdiction like B.C., the ability to raise real incomes over time depends in large part on whether we can increase exports and stimulate the growth of export-capable industries. Successful export industries produce many benefits, including furnishing the income that allows us to pay for imports. Most export industries also offer above-average wages and salaries.
Summary of 2017 BC Political Party Platforms
A summary and comparison of the 2017 platform proposals of the BC Liberal Party, the BC New Democratic Party and the BC Green Party in advance of the upcoming election.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. needs to do a better job of attracting high-skill immigrants (Business in Vancouver)
Immigration continues to reshape the demographic landscape in British Columbia.
Every year, between 35,000 and 40,000 new immigrants arrive in the province. Currently, more than one-quarter of the province’s population is foreign-born. Most immigrants settle in urban centres, so 41% of Metro Vancouver’s residents were born in another country. Given relatively low birth rates and the aging of the population, these proportions are expected to rise over the coming decades.
Finlayson Op-Ed: A closer look at the 2017 BC Budget (Business in Vancouver)
Parsing the details of the Liberal government’s 2017 budget offers a number of insights into British Columbia’s $270 billion economy. The first and most significant is the advantage conferred by economic and industrial diversification.
BC Budget 2017 Analysis
Budget 2017 is a good news budget. While it falls shy of being a “something-for-everyone” document, it does announce some useful tax/premium reductions along with increased spending in a number of high priority areas. It also extends the province’s track record of sound fiscal management. Apart from the risk stemming from the high debt load of certain Crown corporations, Tuesday’s budget reinforces BC’s top notch credit rating.
NEWS RELEASE: Budget 2017 Moves Toward Improved Business Competitiveness While Still Balancing the Books
Victoria - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s provincial budget, which managed to find room for tax relief while maintaining the government’s commitment to balance the budget. This is a noteworthy accomplishment at a time of global uncertainty and when most other provinces continue to face budgetary shortfalls. Keeping the books balanced reaffirms the government’s commitment to prudent fiscal management, and provides BC with some policy flexibility going forward.
“Delivering a balanced budget within a climate of modest economic growth and a mixed outlook for commodities sets BC apart and signals that the province is a stable place to invest and do business,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia. “We congratulate Minister de Jong and his cabinet colleagues for their continued focus on disciplined expenditure management.”
BC2035 is about creating a shared vision of BC’s future and laying down a pathway to realize that vision. It is about initiating conversations, fostering greater collaboration and getting politicians, policy makers, First Nations leaders, and business leaders to think about, prepare for and act on the future.
D’Avignon & Graham Op-Ed: A Fresh Look at the Role of Natural Resource Sectors in BC's Economy (The Vancouver Sun)
As leaders from government, industry, and First Nations communities gather again in Prince George for the 14th Annual Natural Resources Forum, it is worth taking a fresh look at the important role natural resource sectors play in British Columbia’s economy, today and into the future.
RELEASE: BCBC Welcomes Provincial Government Approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project
The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s decision by the province to grant an environmental assessment certificate, with conditions, to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and to confirm that this project has met the government’s five conditions. This is an important step in advancing a nationally significant project that will deliver benefits to British Columbia communities and workers while meeting growing global demand for oil.
NEWS RELEASE: Business Council of BC Welcomes Report by Commission on Tax Competitiveness
The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the report issued today by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness that was appointed several months ago to examine the structure and impact of business taxes and to provide policy options that will support growth and job creation in BC.
At a time of sluggish global economic growth, heightened competitive pressure for small regional economies, and accelerating technological change, it makes sense to review the role of tax policy in shaping the environment for business activity. Particularly for trade-dependent jurisdictions like British Columbia, a broadly competitive tax system is essential if we are to attract the investment and stimulate the entrepreneurial wealth creation needed to sustain jobs and grow incomes.
“The Commission on Tax Competitiveness’s report outlines a number of valuable recommendations for the provincial government to consider, including some that we hope will be taken up in the February 2017 budget, and others that can be acted on over the medium-term,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia. “The Business Council commends the provincial government for establishing the Commission. We look forward to the province acting on the Commissions’ recommendations to strengthen the foundations for BC’s economic prosperity.”
Peacock Op-Ed: Looking to B.C. Budget 2017 — Strengthening B.C.’s Competitive Position (Surrey Business News)
B.C.’s economy is in reasonably good shape and the province looks to be on track to lead the country in economic and job growth this year and likely next year as well. This relatively buoyant economic backdrop is boosting B.C. government revenues and providing the province with some fiscal room. The recently released First Quarterly Report shows the B.C .government with a $2 billion surplus in 2016-17, thanks mostly to upside revenue surprises from personal income taxes and the property transfer tax.
While all this is good news, the fact is that British Columbia’s competitiveness within North America has eroded over the past several years. The extent of the problem varies across sectors and industries. But companies operating on the land base, manufacturers, and industries that rely significantly on energy to run their operations face mounting difficulties stemming from complex First Nations claims, onerous permitting and environmental rules, and high and still rising tax-inclusive energy costs. Across the province, the forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries are at the forefront of these challenges. Closer to home, in Surrey the agriculture industry and local manufacturers (lumber mills, parts of food processing, industrial equipment, high-tech) are all also challenged by B.C.’s deteriorating competitive position.