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News Releases and Op-Eds

Release: Business leaders offer mixed views on 2019 B.C. Budget

Today’s Budget points to higher program spending amid a slowing economy and an increasingly challenging environment for many B.C. companies. Some of the new spending commitments hold promise but taken together will “bake in” a higher level of government costs on a going-forward basis. At the same time, the Budget contains little that will strengthen the province’s economic fundamentals or improve our competitive position over the medium-term.

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Throne Speech heavy on costs but offers little to build the foundations for a strong, innovative B.C. economy

Following today’s Throne Speech, the Business Council of British Columbia is concerned about the lack of government attention being paid to the provincial economy. Maintaining and enhancing the government services upon which so many British Columbians rely is an essential role of government. However, the ability to provide high quality public services which enhance our collective quality of life depends on a competitive and thriving economy.

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Williams Op-Ed: If our economy's growing, why don't Canadian's feel better off? (The Province)

We often hear that “our economy is growing” or “economic growth is strong.” Yet many hard‑working Canadians feel that their standard of living is going sideways. Their intuition is correct. Growth in Canadian gross domestic product (GDP) per person – a key measure of living standards – has been nearly stagnant for more than a decade.  

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Balance tops business wish list for B.C. Budget 2019 (Business in Vancouver)

As the NDP government prepares to table its 2019 budget, there is no reason to believe that Finance Minister Carol James is contemplating any major course corrections.  The province’s finances are in decent shape, with a small operating surplus and a stable net debt-to-GDP ratio.  The provincial economy is expected to grow at an annual pace of just over 2 per cent, even with the slowdowns in job creation and consumer spending that materialized in 2018.  Housing markets are adjusting to the mix of demand-dampening measures introduced in last year’s budget along with tighter mortgage lending rules and somewhat higher interest rates.  The NDP wanted to move the province away from a real-estate centric economic growth model, and this goal is now in sight.  Meanwhile, LNG Canada’s recent announcement that it intends to proceed with its massive $40 billion Kitimat project will deliver a multi-year lift to the B.C. economy.

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Williams Op-Ed: Career advice for B.C. workers in the age of automation (Times Colonist)

When applying for a job or a promotion, you probably like to know how many other applicants are applying for the same position. For some workers in British Columbia, a new applicant is about to join the field: Mr. Robot. 

In a new report, the Business Council of B.C. examines the potential impact of automation across all occupations in the provincial labour market.

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Finlayson Column: Four questions on the B.C. economy in 2019 (Black Press)

The arrival of the new year prompts forecasters to reflect on what may lie ahead for our economy.

For Canada and B.C., the picture is mixed. Several external risks and domestic headwinds are likely to weigh on economic activity. But some positive factors are also in place.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Diversified industry dynamics to drive B.C.’s 2019 economic engine (Business in Vancouver)

As we enter 2019 and consider what lies ahead for the provincial economy, a review of industry dynamics provides comfort as well as a confirmation that the B.C. economy is now growing at a more moderate pace. The comfort comes from the fact that the province’s leading growth sectors span a wide array of industries, providing a degree of resiliency. Confirmation of the downshifting to a slower growth trajectory is supported by evidence that activity in some previously expanding industries has already turned down.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Canada continuing to lose ground in global competitiveness (Business in Vancouver)

In 2018, the penny dropped on Canada’s diminished attractiveness for new business investment.

The past year saw a chorus of voices across the business community urging governments to recognize Canada’s faltering competitiveness, amid near-record capital outflows, sagging domestic equity markets and punishing price discounts for the country’s No. 1 export product: Western Canadian oil.

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Finlayson & Peacock Column: LNG Canada atop lists of stories affecting B.C. 2018 economy (Business in Vancouver)

In an environment of rapid economic and political change, further compounded by activist governments at both the federal and provincial levels, identifying 2018’s most significant stories affecting the provincial economy is challenging.  Below we take a stab at the task, focusing on developments that we judge to be of particular relevance to B.C.    

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BCBC Statement on CleanBC

Tools within the CleanBC plan support the Low-Carbon Industrial Strategy and begin to position B.C. businesses and the province to be a supplier of choice for international markets seeking lower-carbon intensive energy, commodities and other inputs for their expanding economies.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Are robots coming for your job? (Troy Media)

Will robots soon be replacing humans across broad swaths of the labour market?

Judging by headlines touting driverless cars, machine learning and the rapidly-growing digital economy, one is tempted to answer “Yes.”

No one can doubt the sweeping effects of new technologies. Historically, tens of millions of jobs have been eliminated by successive waves of technology-enabled innovation in industries ranging from agriculture, transportation and manufacturing, to electricity and information and telecommunications services.

A similar process is underway today, fuelled by advances in artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and digital tools and platforms.

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Government-business MOU aimed at establishing B.C. as low-carbon economy leader

British Columbia’s government and business leaders have signed a first-of-its-kind agreement to establish B.C. as a world leader in delivering low-carbon goods and services to domestic and global markets.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Natural gas lifts B.C. economy as housing’s contribution slows (Business in Vancouver)

The B.C. economy grew by a surprisingly robust 3.8% (after inflation) last year. This is surprising because not only does it follow a strong 3.2% expansion in 2016, but it also marks another year when the province grew at a pace above its long-run potential.

Some observers may be taken slightly aback that B.C. managed to achieve such an impressive growth rate amid an unsettled global backdrop and the early stages of a slowdown in the province’s normally busy residential housing complex.

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BCBC statement on Federal Fall Economic Statement 2018

Some positive steps…but more action is needed to bolster Canada’s faltering competitiveness

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Finlayson Column: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show (Black Press)

When it hiked its short-term policy interest rate in late October, the Bank of Canada signaled that an extended period of “money for nothing” – the lowest interest rates in Canadian history – had finally and definitively come to an end.

Last month, the central bank lifted its benchmark overnight rate to 1.75 per cent, which is up from a record low of 0.5 per cent in the summer of 2017. Over the past 15 months, the Bank of Canada has nudged its policy rate steadily higher, albeit in baby steps. Why does this matter?

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RELEASE: B.C. economy continues to post solid growth

Amid solid global growth and a booming U.S. economy, the British Columbia economy is in good shape and will continue to grow at a respectable, albeit more moderate, pace over the next two years. B.C.’s real GDP growth is expected to be in the 2.2% to 2.5% range for 2018 and 2019.

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Release: LNG Canada investment marks a clean start for economic growth

BCBC today welcomes the LNG Canada joint venture participants’ final investment decision to build an LNG export facility in Kitimat, B.C.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: B.C. doesn’t have enough workers to meet industries’ demand (Black Press)

For those interested in the hottest job trends, the provincial government’s new Labour Market Outlook is worth a look.

Over the next decade, the government is forecasting a total of 903,000 job openings in B.C. More than 600,000 will result from current workers transitioning into retirement.

Many of these positions can be filled by younger cohorts of workers, but that won’t be enough to produce warm bodies for all of the expected vacancies.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Why B.C. labour force participation is down in an up market (Business in Vancouver)

In an environment where jobs are plentiful, many employers are struggling to fill vacancies, and wages are rising, one would expect more people to be clamouring to join the work force.  This is precisely what has happened in B.C. over the past couple of years: strong employment growth helped to push the labour force participation rate higher.  By the end of 2017, 65.3 percent of the province’s working-age population was employed or actively seeking work, two percentage points higher than in 2015.    

But the recent bump runs counter to the longer-term trend, which has seen the labour force participation rate drift lower.  In fact, participation peaked in the early 1990s, when 67 percent of British Columbians over the age of 15 were in the workforce.  This peak was reached even though the unemployment rate at the time was double the current level.  Jobs were harder to find then, but a bigger slice of the population was part of the labour force.    

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Finlayson Op-Ed: 'Clean growth' is a nice idea, but policymakers shouldn't forget what really makes B.C. money (The Province)

Policymakers in Victoria have a lot more work to do if they are interested in strengthening the province’s export economy.

The provincial NDP government has pledged to develop a “clean growth strategy” to position the province for continued prosperity in a world where demand is increasing for products and technologies that reduce the impact of human activity on the environment. With a carbon-free electricity system and an array of local companies in the “clean tech” space, B.C. has some of the ingredients necessary for clean growth. But amid their enthusiasm for developing new industries, policymakers also need to pay close attention to the industries that pay the bills today.

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