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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.”


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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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: BC should be spending more to increase competitiveness

As the B.C. government prepares to table another surplus budget today, its policy of spending restraint is being called into question.

Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of B.C.’s influential business council, says the Christy Clark government’s decision “to reduce real per-capita public-sector capital outlays, at a time of historically low borrowing costs, requires a rethinking, in our view.”

The business council, which supports balanced budgets, is specifically recommending a re-evaluation of B.C.’s three-year capital spending plan, as outlined in last year’s budget, “in light of record low borrowing costs that are expected to stay at historically low levels through 2015-2016, and perhaps beyond.”

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The Canadian Press (Castanet): B.C. woos Asian business

Politicians and business leaders have initiated a $6.5 million plan to entice Asian companies to bring their headquarters to Vancouver.

HQ Vancouver, a new partnership between the B.C. and federal governments and the Business Council of B.C., launched Friday and will attempt to coax Asian companies to locate their North American head offices in the city.

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Business in Vancouver: New program to lure Asian headquarters to Vancouver

Greg D'Avignon says it’s unfortunate that a friend of his enjoys living in Vancouver but finds it necessary to fly to Hong Kong frequently to work at a major accounting firm.

That kind of lifestyle is something the Business Council of B.C. (BCBC) CEO hopes to curb through a new initiative designed to bring Asian companies’ headquarters to Vancouver.

“We have the most Asian-centric population of anywhere in North America,” D’Avignon told Business In Vancouver. “We’re not connecting those relationships and those familial ties as effectively as we should at a personal level, but on a business level as well.”

The HQ Vancouver program – a partnership between the BCBC, Victoria and Ottawa – launched Friday (February 13) and began identifying targets and building business cases for corporate relocations.

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Business in Vancouver: Tech sector looks to lure Alberta talent to BC

[EXCERPT] B.C. has experienced a net loss of about 42,000 people over the past two decades with about half of those moving to Alberta, according to a May 2014 report from the Business Council of BC (BCBC). In the last two years alone, 7,500 of those people were in the 15-to-24, 25-to-34 and 35-to-44 age groups.

BCBC economist and report co-author Ken Peacock said that after years of strain on the B.C. labour market, the province can “almost certainly” count on a large number of those people returning from Alberta.

He noted the workers essentially fall into two categories: those who have moved with their families across the Rockies or interprovincial employees who work in Alberta for extended periods while technically residing in B.C.

Peacock said it may be trickier to bring back people who’ve already uprooted their families once, but a high-tech worker doing contract work would be a good example of someone who would move back.

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Business in Vancouver: Economic council predicts 2.6% real GDP growth for BC in 2015

B.C.’s Economic Forecast Council predicts real GDP growth to be 2.6% in 2015 — down slightly from its December estimate of 2.7%.

The council also announced Thursday (February 5) it expects real GDP growth to hit 2.8% in 2016, an uptick of 0.1% from its previous estimate. The 2017-19 outlook remains at 2.5%.

It is quite fascinating right now,” Business Council of B.C. economist Ken Peacock told Business In Vancouver.

He said 2.6% is a fairly average performance but “that pace could very well lead all of the provinces in Canada.”

Peacock noted oil-producing provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be hit by slow growth this year.

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Castanet: Skills gap costing BC billions

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada shows skills shortages cost the B.C. economy up to $6 billion in foregone GDP and $785 million in tax revenues annually.

It's projected there will be one million job openings in the province by 2022 and 760,000 of those jobs will require some kind of specialized training. Without a focus to meet that demand, the labour force will reach a point where demand outstrips supply by 2019, the report states.

Many of those unfilled jobs or mismatched skills are in the trades, but not all.

Greg D'Avignon of the Business Council of British Columbia says those jobs will be in technology, software engineering, but also in middle management, transportation and tourism as well as forestry and mining.

"That runs the gamut from engineers to environmental technologists, pipe fitters and journeymen," he says.

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Business in Vancouver: Drop in Canadian dollar spells upswing for BC forestry industry

Consumers may not like paying higher prices for some goods in stores but the Loonie’s recent fall is getting B.C.’s forestry sector poised for major growth in 2015.

Business Council of B.C. economist Ken Peacock said the recent decline in the Canadian dollar, which was sitting at 80.5 cents U.S. Thursday morning (February 5), makes exports south of the border even more enticing for Americans as U.S. housing starts grow.

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Vancouver Sun, Vaughn Palmer: Provincial finances are on an even keel, minister assures

[EXCERPT] The prospective good news on the retail front was borne out by the latest analysis from the Business Council of B.C., which calculated that “the average B.C. household will save more than $500” if the recent drop in gasoline prices were to be sustained over a full year.

“On an economywide basis, this translates into more than $1 billion in consumer savings, most of which will be spent on other goods and services,” wrote council economists Jock Finlayson and Ken Peacock.

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Nanaimo Business News: BC Business Council predicts decent level of growth

Developed by the Business Council of BC, the recently released BC Economic Review and Outlook is a document that analyzes some of the most important elements of BC’s current economic performance, such as employment figures, investment trends and export levels. Council analysts than take that information to forecast where the provincial economy will be going in the coming months. The group’s conclusion for 2015 is that despite a troubled and turbulent world, the BC economy is poised for a decent level of growth this year.

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Globe and Mail: Vancouver housing market booming as BC reaps gain of Alberta residents

[EXCERPT]  Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia, predicts that a continued influx of immigrants from overseas and low interest rates will be key drivers behind the Vancouver area’s housing market this year, with interprovincial migration providing an extra boost to population growth.

The lower loonie could also make Vancouver more attractive for buyers from countries such as China and the United States.

British Columbia posted a net gain of more than 37,000 people from other countries and nearly 7,500 residents from other provinces in the first nine months of 2014, according to preliminary data. The number of newcomers to B.C. in those first nine months has already exceeded original forecasts for the full 12 months of 2014.

Mr. Finlayson said that given the robust housing demand, the market will stay healthy this year in Metro Vancouver, especially for detached properties, but the question is: How high will prices go? “We’re pushing at the outer limits of conceivable pricing,” he said.

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CKNW: Despite falling loonie, economists predict growth in BC

The BC Business Council says falling oil prices and a lower Canadian dollar are good for B.C.

Chief policy officer Jock Finlayson says lower prices at the pump will help the economy grow by 2.6 percent this year, in part because of extra cash in consumers’ pockets.

“Over a billion dollars we estimate if current low oil prices persist for the year, over a billion dollars of additional spending power for B.C. consumers, most of which will be spent on other goods and services in the local marketplace.”

The Business Council’s economic outlook for 2015 also says the falling loonie will boost exports and tourism.

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CBC News: Cross-border shopping trips plummet, along with dollar

[EXCERPT]  Ken Peacock from the Business Council of B.C. says in 2012 cross-border shopping meant a loss of more than $1 billion to the province.

"I have heard anecdotes about Bellis Fair and other retailers down there being concerned and lamenting the drop in the currency."
"Winners will be some of the B.C. retailers in the Lower Mainland and those along the border."

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Vancouver Sun: Lower oil prices, dollar to fuel growth in BC, report says

British Columbia is poised to be a top economic performer in Canada, with lower oil prices working to the province's advantage, according to a report by the Business Council of B.C. Real GDP growth is expected to rise from 2.3 per cent in 2014 to 2.6 per cent in 2015 and 3.1 per cent in 2016. Unemployment is expected to drop from 6.1 per cent in 2014 to six per cent.

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CKNW: Plummeting oil prices bring increased fallout

As the Petroleum Services Association of Canada downgrades its drilling forecast for the year by almost 25%, and some oil companies begin to reduce their workforce, the BC Business Council projects more fall out from plummeting oil prices.

Chief economist Ken Peacock says up to 35,000 British Columbians work in Alberta.

He thinks Premier Christy Clark’s plan to advertise in Fort McMurray for workers to come home could be a success.

“British Columbia can attract some workers back for large projects, potentially LNG projects, bee it Site C or other major investments here in British Columbia, that would be a benefit.”

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