BC Budget 2015: Few New Measures...But an Era of Surpluses Lies Ahead
The benefits of BC’s diverse and resilient economy were evident as Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled a Budget on February 17 that calls for a modest surplus for 2015‐16, followed by slightly larger surpluses in the two subsequent years. This places BC in the position of being possibly the only province to balance its books in the coming year. Fiscal circumstances, however, remain tight, and the Budget featured few new spending or taxation initiatives. Spending increases that did make it into the Budget were concentrated in health care and to a lesser extent education, along with a few targeted measures aimed at lower income households. The government opted to advance capital spending over what it had planned last year, in line with the Business Council’s advice.
BC Poised for Decent Growth in A Turbulent World
The Business Council's first Economic Outlook and Review for 2015 projects a 2.6% increase in BC's real GDP and examines the impact on BC's economy of a number of factors including the global economic outlook, a rebounding US economy, declining oil prices and domestic factors such as housing starts and exports.
An Updated Look at BC’s Inventory of Major Capital Projects
In this issue of Policy Perspectives, we provide a summary of capital spending on “major” projects in British Columbia.
Second annual survey shows strong partnerships and $373 million in charitable contributions by British Columbia’s business community
On December 4th, the Business Council of British Columbia released the second annual study quantifying the charitable contributions made by the province’s business community, conducted by MNP LLP. The report, Prosperous Companies, Prosperous Communities found that in 2013 British Columbia businesses donated $373 million in cash donations, sponsorships and partnerships to the province’s charities with the top types of charities supported being social services, health, education and environment.
Critical Success Factors and Talent Risks for BC
The September issue of this newsletter reviewed the international, labour market and public policy contexts for talent mobility and development and briefly identified key success factors and risks for British Columbia in achieving its workforce development goals. In this month’s issue, we explore each of these areas and offer suggestions for ensuring an adequate labour supply and successful workforce development in BC.
Getting a Handle on the Environmental Goods and Services Industry
Previous editions of the Environment and Energy Bulletin were concerned with the criteria and tools that can shed light on how green jobs and other environment-related activities contribute to the economy. This paper is another piece in the exploration of that topic. Here, we adopt a somewhat narrower focus by looking at “the environmental goods and services producing sector” of the economy.
Building BC for the 21st Century:
A White Paper on Infrastructure Policy and Financing
This paper is about infrastructure in BC. It reviews what infrastructure is, the importance and benefits of infrastructure and some of the external and internal factors that are shaping the demand for infrastructure services in the province. It also reviews infrastructure that has been built in the province over the past decade. Despite BC having made substantial investments in large public assets that have served the province and its citizens well, we conclude that additional infrastructure investments are necessary to support residents’ quality of life and improve BC’s competitive position.
The State of Industry-First Nations Relations in B.C. – Part II: RECOMMENDATIONS
Through our series on the state of industry-First Nation relations in B.C., the Business Council has sought to document and take stock of the economic reconciliation process in the province. The results of this work have highlighted a number of important and mainly positive trends: 1) increased aboriginal business formations; 2) a proliferation of economic agreements between industry, government and First Nations; 3) growing own-source revenues and capacity improvements at the community level; and 4) a generally positive outlook for the future of economic reconciliation. However, the research has also identified some areas of concern that have the potential to constrain the ability of all parties to move further down a reconciliation path that maximizes collective economic opportunities.
The Underground Economy
“Underground” economic activity takes different forms and includes the production/provision of both legal and illegal goods and services. The underground economy (UE) is a concern for governments because it reduces the tax base and can weaken regulatory regimes intended to protect consumers, workers and the environment.
'Talentism,' Mobility and Migration: Implications for BC's Labour Market
This edition of Human Capital Law and Policy was guest authored by Kerry Jothen, CEO of Human Capital Strategies.
The State of Industry-First Nations Relations in BC – Part I
Over the past thirty years, and accelerating over the last decade or so, industry in British Columbia has increasingly engaged directly with First Nations to build the conditions for investment certainty in resource project development. The business case for doing so is clear – Section 35 aboriginal rights and title have proven challenging to define, and the Crown, for a variety of reasons, has been unable to comprehensively meet all of its consultation and accommodation obligations to First Nations. Nor should government necessarily have to shoulder all of the work related to post-colonial economic engagement with First Nations.
Compliance and Enforcement
What exactly is compliance and enforcement (C&E)? One might think there is an easy answer. But despite the myriad of organizations with C&E policies and staff dedicated to this type of work in a broad range of areas such as taxation, crime, workplace health and safety, and the environment, it is challenging to identify an accessible literature on the theory, evolution and practice of C&E.
BC’s Tourism Industry: Positioned for Growth
In BC, tourism supports and sustains jobs in every region and serves as the economic backbone of many smaller communities. Compared to other provinces, the tourism industry is proportionally larger in BC, a reflection of the province’s natural beauty and the diversity of both winter and summer activities offered here. Greater Vancouver’s international status as a desirable travel destination contributes to the prominence of the broader BC tourism sector.
Debate Over the Minimum Wage Heats Up
Proposals to increase the minimum wage have been gathering speed on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. In January, President Obama called on Congress to lift the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, an idea quickly rejected by Republican Party leaders. But America’s national government doesn’t hold a monopoly on labour standards in that country; state and local governments also play a role. Since 2011, more than a dozen U.S. states and several cities have increased the minimum wages in their jurisdictions. Earlier this year, Seattle adopted a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, the highest among all big American cities.
The LNG Opportunity in BC: Separating Rhetoric from Reality -- Part II
In Part I of this two-part series, we reviewed the main economic critiques of LNG development in British Columbia, concluding that while there are risks and economic uncertainties with respect to LNG in the province, the critics are largely off base with their professed economic concerns. Here in Part II, we address the more analytically challenging environmental issues that have been identified by various commentators who doubt the benefits of LNG.
Waiting for Better Days
Some of the optimism about the global economy evident in early 2014 has diminished in recent months, causing forecasters (including the Business Council) to revise down their growth projections. The change is not dramatic, but the tone has shifted in a more cautious direction.
The LNG Opportunity in BC: Separating Rhetoric from Reality -- Part I
At the same time as China and Russia signed a massive 30 year, $400 billion natural gas trade agreement, the BC government continued its push to establish an LNG industry with a (successful) global LNG conference in Vancouver. The May event came on the heels of Premier Clark’s fifth trip to Asia promoting, in part or full, LNG opportunities in the province.
The China-Russia agreement is emblematic of the changing energy supply landscape; it also speaks to the size of the potential opportunity for jurisdictions like BC considering the contract constitutes only 29% of China’s future import requirement.
Closer to home, critics continue to question whether BC can develop the LNG sector in a responsible and economically sensible manner that will deliver the benefit set expected by government.
In this two part Energy and Environment Bulletin, we assess the validity of arguments suggesting BC is making a mistake in seeking to advance LNG and that the province would be wiser to halt, slow down or significantly change its approach to LNG development.
A Note on Business Tax Competitiveness in British Columbia
It’s slightly more than one year since BC scrapped the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and returned to the former Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as the main tax on “consumption” in British Columbia. Now is therefore an opportune time to step back and assess the broader business tax structure and its impact on BC’s attractiveness as a place to invest and do business. This issue of Policy Perspectives considers several features of the tax system that impinge on business investment, expansion, and job creation. We do not examine the taxes paid by households – the focus here is on taxes that apply to enterprises and business activity.
Alberta’s Demand for Workers is Affecting the Labour Market in BC
Within Canada there are no restrictions on labour mobility. People move freely between provinces to find employment, to retire, to attend school, or for other reasons. The past few years have seen mounting anecdotal evidence that strong demand for workers in Alberta is impacting the BC labour market by luring younger, often skilled workers from this province. Some employers in BC report they have been losing employees to our eastern neighbour. Looking ahead, this trend is likely to contribute to a tightening of the BC labour market as economic growth gradually accelerates.
Should We "Green" Gross Domestic Product?
What exactly is GDP, or gross domestic product? Where did it come from? Why is it important? Does it measure what we want it to? How might it be improved to provide a more comprehensive measure of human well-being?