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Is the Price Right? A Comparison of Carbon Pricing

There is no real mystery to understanding what a carbon tax is – an amount deemed to be the value, or cost, of a tonne of carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of burning fossil fuel.  In BC, policy makers have decided that the cost is CDN$30/tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which is then translated into an amount per unit of fuel.  The tax is applied broadly to all fossil fuel combustion in the province and, in practice, covers a large majority of the fossil fuels consumed by businesses and households.

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BC Net Interprovincial Migration Trending Higher

In the second quarter of2015 BC saw a net inflow of nearly 4,000 people moving here from other Canada jurisdictions. While this figure is down from the 5000+ net inflow in Q2 of 2014, it is up significantly from the 2012-2013 era.

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September 25 - In the News This Week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

BCBC recaps the weekly business and economic news stories from the week ending September 25 relevant to British Columbia's economy.

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PART TWO: Municipal Tax Burden Varies Widely Across Smaller BC Communities

This is the second blog documenting the level and growth of municipal property taxes in BC, using data compiled and reported by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.  The first blog  examined property taxes for larger municipalities with populations in excess of 10,000.  This follow up piece looks at the level and growth of per capita taxes for municipalities with populations between 2,000 and 10,000.

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September 18 - In the News This Week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

BCBC recaps the weekly business and economic news stories from the week ending September 18 relevant to British Columbia's economy.

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Labour Market Conditions Ease in the Prairie Provinces But Tighten in BC

Labour market conditions in Western Canada have changed significantly in the past year or so. Amid the dramatic fall in oil prices and generally soft prices for many other key commodities, the ranks of the unemployed have increased in all three Prairie Provinces in recent quarters. Consistent with a rise in unemployment, the number of job vacancies in each of the three Prairie provinces has dwindled. In BC, however, these labour market metrics have been the reverse: the number of unemployed has remained stable or edged down while job vacancies have climbed.

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September 4 - In the news this week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

BCBC recaps the weekly business and economic news stories from the week ending September 4 relevant to British Columbia's economy.

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Imagining a “Post-Inflation” World

Across most of the leading advanced economies, inflation is running well below the rates targeted by central banks. In the United States, the principal inflation measure tracked by the Federal Reserve sits at barely 1%, despite an expanding economy and a rapidly tightening labour market. In Japan and the Eurozone, central banks have set policy interest rates at zero and are aggressively pumping money into the economy to avoid deflation – defined as a generalized drop in the price level. In both the UK and Canada, the short-term policy interest rates directly controlled by central banks remain near all-time lows.

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PART ONE: Municipal Tax Burden Varies Widely in BC and Continues to Outpace Inflation

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development compiles data on local government finances, including figures on per capita levels of property tax.  What is discussed below and shown in the graphs is the total amount of tax levied on all nine property classes, as defined in provincial legislation.  This provides a gauge of the overall tax burden in each municipality, with the per capita data allowing comparisons to be made across municipalities of different sizes.  To make such comparisons more meaningful, the figures below show per capita taxes just for municipalities with populations that exceed 10,000.  Taxation in smaller municipalities will be discussed in subsequent blog posts.  The first figure shows the 2015 per capita levels of property taxes for BC’s larger municipalities.  The additional numbers on the right side of the chart are the average annual growth rates of per capita taxes in each municipality over the past three years, and are included in the graph for quick reference.

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August 21 - In the news this week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

BCBC recaps the weekly business and economic news stories from the week ending August 21 relevant to British Columbia's economy. This week we look at: falling oil, falling markets, negative outlook for the global economy; home prices in British Columbia continue to rise; provinces move forward in developing climate plans; CHART: Canadian cities hold three spots on the list of the top five most liveable cities; and Vancouver office space vacancy spikes.

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August 7 - In the News This Week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

Each week we recap five economic and business news stories impacting British Columbia's economy. For the week ending on August 7th, week we take a look at:

  • Federal election kick off,
  • Canada's mediocre job numbers,
  • Another Vancouver tech firm gets global recognition,
  • Trans Pacific Partnership talks break down,
  • and
  • Oil prices and the Canadian dollar - both continuing to drop

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Recent international trade numbers suggest some improvement in Canada's limping economy

Statistics Canada’s just released snapshot of Canada’s trade performance in June offers a hint that the much anticipated upturn in non-energy exports may finally be materializing. 

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Solid Gains in Retail Spending Suggest British Columbians are Optimistic

Following an unusually weak period in 2013, retail spending in BC has steadily strengthened and is now growing at the strongest annual pace since the 2010 Olympics. The total value of retail sales surged in May by 8.3% over the same month of last year. What’s more, BC is now leading the country in the growth of retail sales at a time when activity has slowed markedly in some other provinces. In Alberta and Saskatchewan retail sales are now well below year-ago levels, even on a non-inflated adjusted basis. Canada-wide growth in retail sales is running around 2.5%. Sales in BC are growing at about three times the national pace. Ontario is quite closely aligned with BC as retailers there are seeing spending growth of about 5%.

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A Look at Families with Children and Two Incomes[1]

Between 1976 and 2014 the absolute number of families in Canada with a child under age 16 declined by 15%[2] but the number of couple families with at least one child under 16 stayed the same at 2.8 million.  However, over the same period the number of two working-person families with at least one child under the age of 16 almost doubled and they now represent 69% of couple families.  As a result, there are now 1.0 million more Canadian families with both parents in the labour market.

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In the News This Week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

Each week we recap five economic and business news stories impacting British Columbia's economy. This week we look at:

  • Bank of Canada's interest rate change,
  • The new Canada Energy Strategy,
  • BC confirms a surplus for 2014-2015,
  • The Iran Nuclear Agreement,
  • Canada's inflation numbers,

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Some Musings on the Bank of Canada’s Latest Rate Cut

What are we to make of the Bank of Canada’s decision this week to trim its benchmark policy interest rate by another 25 basis points, taking it to a near record low of 0.5%? 

For one thing, the Bank is acknowledging that the energy-related downturn in capital spending and exports in Canada has been more pronounced than it was expecting earlier in the year – and the pain is likely to persist for a while yet.   Canada’s economy, we are told, is facing “complex adjustments” that will unfold over the “next few years.”  At the heart of these “adjustments” is a less rosy future for both crude oil and many other commodity prices.  This is unwelcome news, as natural resource-based industries supply more than half of Canada’s exports and play a pivotal role in driving business investment in several regions of the country.  A world of lower prices for oil and other commodities is a world in which Canadians can look forward to smaller increases in real incomes than we enjoyed during the decade that began in 2003 – a decade that coincided with a broadly-based global commodity upcycle that is now a fading memory.    

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In the News This Week: Five Business and Economic Stories Affecting BC

BCBC recaps the weekly business and economic news stories relevant to British Columbia's economy.

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Q1 Net Inflow of People to BC from Other Provinces the Strongest in Two Decades

BC’s comparatively healthy economic performance and attractive climate are luring people from other parts of Canada at a rate not seen in many years.
Migration has well established seasonal patterns, so to compare the movement of people over time the data can be seasonally adjusted or one can simply compare first quarter data to first quarter results from prior years. For simplicity, the graphs and analysis below adopt the latter approach and examine Q1 migration flows to BC for the years 1988 through 2015.

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A Milestone Looms: BC’s Economy Will Soon Hit $250 Billion

A steadily expanding population and ongoing modest economic growth are combining to propel the value of both spending and production in the province to ever higher levels. As a result, we are on the cusp of a significant milestone: by the end of this year or early in 2016, the value of all measured economic activity in British Columbia will reach one-quarter of a trillion dollars ($250 billion).

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BC Now a Growth Leader in Canada

According to recently released data from Statistics Canada, the BC economy grew by 2.6% in 2014.  Against the backdrop of sluggish commodity markets, sub-par global growth and ongoing turbulence in Europe and some emerging economies, this is very respectable showing.  In historical terms, it is just slightly ahead of the province’s 2.5% long-term average growth rate.  And measured against other provinces, our economic expansion was second among the ten provinces last year.  

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