Canada’s federal government is responsible for many policies that matter for BC’s business community, including taxation, immigration, innovation programs and employment insurance. The Council provides regular recommendations to the federal government to ensure that the nation’s top decision makers consider BC’s unique economic priorities.
New Regional Effort Aims to Establish Cascadia Innovation Corridor
British Columbia and Washington leaders come together to strengthen collaboration, create cross-border opportunity
Innovation for Jobs and Productivity:
Fostering High-Growth BC Businesses, Creating More High-Paying Jobs
How can British Columbia draw on its strengths to build a vibrant, diverse economy, one that produces rewarding employment opportunities and rising incomes for the people who work and do business here? Scholars and leading international organizations agree that the best route to sustained prosperity is by developing a highly productive economy.
Finlayson Op-Ed: How Canada can put its economy back in gear (Troy Media & The Province Newspaper)
“Building an economy that works for the middle class” is the preferred mantra of the Trudeau government now ensconced in Ottawa. Rarely these days does one encounter a federal government news release that fails to tout the benefits of a thriving middle class. The term “middle class” itself, however, is never defined, making it difficult to know if progress is being made in delivering on what the government describes as its most important objective.
On at least some measures, the middle class in Canada actually looks to be doing reasonably well. Take incomes, for example. From 2010 to 2014, the total pre-tax income of the typical family – defined, statistically, as the “median” family consisting of two or more related persons – rose from $80,900 to $87,000, in constant 2014 dollars. This amounts to an increase (after inflation) of 7.5 per cent over four years – a decent gain.
SUBMISSON: BCBC Input to the Federal Government's 2016 Immigration Consultation Process
The Business Council's input to the Federal Government's 2016 Immigration Consultation Process made via the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Business input vital to immigration system’s economic success (Business in Vancouver)
There are currently 4.7 million people living in B.C. Over the past 20 years, our population has risen by 908,000. Back in 1995, the population was growing at an annual rate of 2.8%, based on strong net interprovincial migration, international migration, and a relatively high rate of natural increase (births minus deaths). Now, the population is increasing by 1% annually, which is higher than the Canadian average but slower than in decades past.
In the next 20 years, our population is projected to expand by 1.14 million. Natural population growth dwindles after 2015 and approaches zero by 2030. At that point, B.C.’s population will be rising solely due to net in-migration from other provinces and countries. Of the two sources of in-migrants, international immigration will have a bigger role in determining B.C.’s demographic and economic future. Thus, it is more important than ever that immigration policy is aligned with our economic needs. Unfortunately, based on some initial actions by the Justin Trudeau government, it appears that economic considerations will carry less weight in immigration decisions.
D'Avignon Op-Ed: Trade deals, infrastructure, national climate framework key for B.C. business (The Hill Times)
Today, some 40 business, First Nations, and community leaders from British Columbia are in Ottawa. Here’s how we can work together with the federal government.
Peacock Op Ed: Consideration for Transit: More People are Settling in Surrey than any other B.C. City (Surrey Business News)
Which B.C. city has experienced the largest population increase since 2011? Most readers will not be surprised at the answer: Surrey. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 43,000 additional people became residents of Surrey, which translates into an average of 900 more people per month over the past four years. During the same period, the City of Vancouver recorded the second biggest absolute population gain of just over 29,000, followed by Coquitlam (+14,000), Richmond (+11,700) and Langley District (+10,600).
Finlayson Op-Ed: Liberals step up state involvement, downplay role of enterprise in economy (Business in Vancouver)
Bill Morneau’s spending-heavy budget underscores two important shifts in the country’s economic and political landscape.
The first is Canada’s diminished economic prospects in an era of weak global growth and sluggish commodity markets. In the past two years, Canada has been buffeted by a substantial “terms of trade” shock, as the prices of our exports have fallen relative to what we pay for imports. Commodity prices, in particular, have plunged, a real blow for an economy that relies on natural resource industries for half of its exports and two-fifths of business investment.
Federal Budget Delivers on Liberal Campaign Commitments...But Little New for Business
In his inaugural budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau ushered in a new era of higher federal spending and sizable deficits. It is important to take note of the current context: a Canadian economy that’s still struggling to adjust to dramatically lower oil prices and a generalized downturn in global commodity markets. We should also take account of the federal government’s solid baseline financial position. Even with a string of deficits, the federal debt/GDP ratio is projected to remain essentially flat over the next half decade.
BCBC Column: Budget 2016: What's in it for British Columbia? (Vancity Buzz)
Tuesday’s budget dips the country deeper into deficit to bring long promised support to lift up the middle class, First Nations, veterans and students. Although short on a clear path towards economic growth, the budget does offer some goodies that will compliment other efforts by the Liberal Government to advance innovation, infrastructure development and investment.
So – what’s in it for BC? Here’s a closer look at what yesterday’s budget means for you and the BC economy.
How far into the red are we going?
While no one likes to accumulate debt, with today’s record-low interest rates and when spent strategically to support economic growth, deficit spending can help boost an otherwise lagging national economy. It is also important to keep some perspective. The $30 billion in red ink that the Finance Minister is planning for each of the next two years should be seen against the backdrop of Canada’s $2 trillion economy. The federal government’s debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest of the G7 countries. With that being said, the Business Council would like to see a strong focus over the medium term to bring the budget back into balance.
Post-Budget Economic Overview
Jock Finlayson presents a look at the global, national and BC economies in the context of the March 22nd federal budget.
Modest plans for economic growth supported by significant increases in spending
Council urges government to keep an eye towards Canada’s long term fiscal health
Vancouver, BC – March 22, 2016 – The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s federal budget, which provides a modest boost to a sluggish Canadian economy and signals a renewed focus on stimulating innovation and infrastructure investments.
With the government’s decision to run deficits over the foreseeable future leading to a significant increase in debt, fostering an environment for sustained economic growth is essential to ensure the debt is kept manageable relative to the size of the economy. The Business Council believes the government should aim to keep the debt/GDP ratio on a downward track over the course of the updated fiscal plan outlined in Budget 2016.
RELEASE: BCBC welcomes new Advisory Council on Economic Growth
p style="text-align: left;" align="center">Vancouver, BC – March 18, 2016 - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the Government of Canada’s new Advisory Council on Economic Growth and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to a sustainable growth strategy for Canada’s economy.
In today’s environment of sluggish global growth and a widespread and significant downturn in commodity markets, Canada is facing long-term economic and fiscal challenges stemming from an aging population, lagging productivity and declining private sector capital investment. The Business Council remains focused on addressing the erosion of Canadian competitiveness and applauds today’s announcement by the government as a positive step to advance those efforts.
Priorities for the 2016 Federal Budget
Business Council priorities for the 2016 Federal Budget.
An Overview of Canada’s Environmental Assessment Regime
As the Liberal government takes up the reins in Ottawa, it has signalled a shift in its approach to energy, environment and natural resource development, particularly in the context of resetting relations with Aboriginal peoples. As it sets out to review Canada’s EA processes, several key principles should be top of mind:
- The integrity of the regulatory process and institutions are best maintained when they are at arms-length from the political realm.
- A core purpose of a regulatory body is to evaluate technical matters in an impartial way, free from undue political or stakeholder influence.
- Regulatory reviews that set (and adhere to) timelines promote certainty for proponents and contribute to a favourable setting for investors.
Release: Business Council welcomes the conclusion of the Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiations
New opportunities for Canada's Gateway to the Asia Pacific
Vancouver, BC - British Columbia business leaders welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Canada and 11 other Asia-Pacific nations have been working toward a TPP agreement for more than two years.
“Given British Columbia’s position as the country’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific, we recognize the importance of ensuring that Canada is part of this landmark trade and investment agreement with countries that collectively are home to more than 800 million people and generate $28 trillion in annual economic activity,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia. “The Business Council believes the TPP will help the Canadian and the BC economies grow by removing tariffs and other barriers, enabling more of our export industries to build new business, and strengthening the position of Canadian companies in global supply chains encompassing commodities, manufactured goods, and tradable services.”
Finlayson Op-Ed: Tax policies discourage small business from getting bigger (Troy Media)
The latest federal budget confirms and reinforces what seems to be an enduring belief among many Canadian policy-makers that it is better for enterprises to stay small than to build up their top lines, bottom lines and employee head counts. According to Budget 2015, the Conservative government plans to lower the federal small business income tax rate from 11 per cent to 9 per cent by 2019. The rate reductions will come in four half-point steps, starting in January 2016. There is to be no change in the general federal corporate tax rate on income above the small business threshold level ($500,000) – that rate remains at 15 per cent.
All of the provinces follow the same general approach as Ottawa, by setting their small business tax rates below the rates charged to medium-sized and larger firms. British Columbia, to take one example, presently levies a 2.5 per cent small business tax, while imposing an 11.0 per cent tax on earned income above the threshold amount. The net result is summarized in the accompanying table: the combined federal/B.C. tax rate on small business income is currently about half of the rate on other income, with the gap set to widen over the next few years.
Amid an Oil Price Collapse…The Harper Government Delivers on its Balanced Budget Promise
The steep drop in the price of oil and related impact on federal finances prompted the Conservative government to delay bringing down the Budget. But despite a $6 billion hit to Ottawa’s revenues, Finance Minister Joe Oliver was determined to meet the government’s commitment to balance the operating budget by fiscal 2015-16, after seven years of red ink. Doing so required adding some modest amounts from asset sales and shrinking the contingency reserve, but in the end the government managed to erase last year’s small deficit ($2 billion) and is forecasting a razor-thin $1.4 billion surplus for 2015-16.
Businesses and Public Policy in Canada…Apparently Smaller is Better
The latest federal budget confirms and reinforces a prevailing belief among Canadian policy-makers that it is better for enterprises to stay small instead of expanding their top lines, bottom lines and employee head count. Budget 2015 signals that the Conservative government plans to lower the federal small business income tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019. The rate reductions will come in four half-point steps, starting in January 2016. There is to be no change in the general federal corporate tax rate that applies to income above the small business threshold ($500,000) – that rate remains at 15%.
RELEASE: Business Council of BC welcomes Canada's balanced budget,
notes caution on the country's economic outlook
The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the Government of Canada's balanced budget which includes several new budget measures to support a diversified economy and to advance economic growth for the country. The government deserves credit for moving steadily toward a balanced budget, although with a slim $1.4 billion surplus in 2015-2016, following the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and the current period of relative economic uncertainty.