News Releases and Op-Eds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BCBC statement on Federal Fall Economic Statement 2018
Some positive steps…but more action is needed to bolster Canada’s faltering competitiveness
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canadian, US business leaders announce joint framework for cross-border growth
Today, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor announced the formation of a binational steering committee composed of the region’s top business, research and community leaders. The Committee marks a step forward in growing the Cascadia Innovation Corridor into a cohesive, globally recognized hub of innovation and commerce.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Understanding the downward trend in unionization (Troy Media)
The arrival of another Labour Day provided an opportunity to reflect on the place of trade unions in our economy.
The unionization rate – sometimes called union density – measures the share of employees in the workforce who belong to a union.
In B.C., the rate has dropped significantly in recent decades. The trend has persisted through multiple business cycles and provincial governments of different political stripes. Today, about 30 per cent of workers in the province are union members, down from more than 40 per cent in the early 1980s.
Statement from BCBC regarding Federal Court of Appeal ruling
The Business Council of British Columbia has released the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer, Greg D’Avignon regarding this week’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal
Finlayson & Peacock op-ed: Growing tax burden hurts B.C. business competitiveness (Business in Vancouver)
In many sectors of our economy, the cost of operating a business has risen significantly over the past several years due to provincial government policy decisions. For a typical business, the most visible government-driven cost increases have come via higher (and in some cases new) taxes and fees. Below we briefly discuss the most salient examples.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Time for a reality check about Canada’s exports (Troy Media & Black Press)
Industrial transitions don’t happen overnight. Nor do politicians generally have a decisive role in that evolution.
Finlayson & St-Laurent Op-Ed: Jobs and careers in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (Troy Media)
The work world is being transformed by rapidly evolving digital technologies as we march into what many are calling the “fourth industrial revolution.”
With disruptive technologies pushing the frontiers of automation, some of the comparative advantages humans traditionally have enjoyed relative to technology are eroding. Computers and learning-based algorithms have progressed beyond replacing repetitive, manual tasks with mechanical execution.
Williams Op-Ed: Will the kids be alright? It’s up to us. (Vancouver Sun)
Will the kids be alright? Will they prosper? These are questions all parents ponder. For a child born today, their standard of living during adulthood will hinge upon the success of their parents’ generation in raising per capita gross domestic product (GDP per person). Small shifts in the trend growth rate in GDP per person lead to substantial differences in living standards over the course of a generation.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Learning to adapt to the growing gig economy (Troy Media)
Most gig jobs fall into the category of contingent work. Such work can be contrasted with a traditional job, in which a person has a durable and structured employment relationship with a specific employer. Today, more people are garnering income via contracting, freelancing, temporary assignments and various kinds of on-call arrangements. All of these are part of the broader gig economy.