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BC Business Matters:
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An Update on Incomes

Statistics Canada recently published a fresh batch of data taken from the Canadian Income Survey. The picture that emerges is similar to what we have reported before. British Columbia remains a middling income performer within the national context.

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Interest Rates in Canada - Lower for Longer

This week’s decision by the Bank of Canada to trim its overnight lending rate by 25 basis points (from 1% to 0.75%) caught the markets by surprise and also embarrassed the country’s economic forecasting community.

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Plunging Oil Price Good for the BC Economy in 2015…

The rapid and steep decline in world oil prices has prompted a fair amount of commentary on the accompanying economic impacts. For Canada, much of the analysis points to modestly negative economic implications, stemming from reduced business investment, lower corporate revenues, a decline in the value of exports, and diminished job creation in the oil patch. Lower oil prices also translate into a decline in revenues flowing to the federal government and to provinces like Alberta and Newfoundland.

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Charting BC’s Economic Prospects in 2015: Ten Developments to Watch

The Business Council outlines the top ten developments that will affect British Columbia's economy in 2015.

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Income Inequality: Canada and the U.S. Marching to Different Drummers

Canada has long been known as a country that promotes the values of equity and fairness within our society. That helps to explain why the issue of economic inequality resonates with the media and among many of our political leaders. With a federal election expected sometime in 2015, inequality is sure to get more attention in the months ahead.

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The Link Between Post-Secondary Education and Employment Earnings

Does post-secondary education make a difference? It most definitely does.

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A Note on Infrastructure Investment and Government Debt

The Business Council recently published a white paper on infrastructure policy and financing in British Columbia. One of the points made in the paper is that investing in certain categories of infrastructure assets – particularly transportation, communications and energy infrastructure -- can help to strengthen the foundations for prosperity by boosting productivity, expanding the economy’s ‘supply side’ capacity, and improving the competitive position of local industries engaged in global commerce.

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The global and Canadian gender gap, 2014

The global and local conversation about the economic potential of women and the foregone opportunity from not yet achieving full gender equality is heating up again. The last really big and prolonged discussion happened in the late 1970s, the heyday of feminist activism.

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A tale of 2 countries – Canada and US (reversal of) fortunes in the post financial crisis period


For the majority of the post financial crisis time period, Canada has outperformed the United States on key economic metrics such as GDP growth, unemployment rates and median income growth.[1]

These results were (yes, past tense) impressive:  

  • In 5 of the past 6 years, Canadian enjoyed stronger growth in GDP than the United States;
  • Canada’s employment performance was better than the US, post financial crisis through 2013, reversing a long standing trend of American unemployment rates being lower than Canadian;
  • Over this same time period, Canadian incomes moved up faster than in the US.

However, our half decade of economic success relative to our American neighbours has come to an end.

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Port Metro Vancouver an Economic Bright Spot for BC

The transportation and logistics industry centred in Greater Vancouver comprises a big part the region’s economic and employment base and also makes significant contributions to the larger BC economy. So it is encouraging to learn that business has been rebounding at Port Metro Vancouver – the most important piece of the Greater Vancouver Gateway cluster.

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Review finds higher pay levels and outsized wage increases in BC's municipal sector

Concerned about rising taxes at the local level?  Employee compensation in your municipality is probably a factor. 

A couple of years ago the Business Council published a report documenting steady and significant increases in local government operating costs in Metro Vancouver’s 20-odd municipalities.  Although the picture varied across communities in the region, collectively municipal expenditures in Metro Vancouver soared by 80% over a ten year period.  Ongoing inflation and population growth mean that municipalities must spend more to meet the service requirements of local residents and businesses.  But we found that even after adjusting for population and inflation, municipal operating costs in the Metro Vancouver area jumped by 32% between 2000 and 2010.  This is three times higher than the comparable rate of growth in provincial government operating expenditures over the same period -- despite the fact that the province pays the lion’s share of costs for health care and education.

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An Aging Population…Let the Games Begin

An update on Canada’s demographic future from Statistics Canada confirms what is readily discernable through casual population: the population is growing modestly but is becoming greyer at an accelerating pace.

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Healthy Gains in Retail Spending in BC

After a number of years of sluggish growth, retail sales in BC have made some impressive gains recently. A year ago, retail spending in the province was basically flat. In the second half of 2013 and through the first quarter of this year the retail environment improved, with annual growth in retail sales advancing to around 4%. Over the past three months, spending has accelerated again, climbing to a 7% annualized growth rate.

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Stock Markets at Record Levels, Improving GDP and Low Inflation…
How long will it last?

We head into the Labour Day weekend after digesting a recent barrage of mostly positive economic data for the second quarter of 2014 in North America.  In the United States, after a tough first quarter, the economy posted an impressive performance in Q2 with 4.2% (annualized) real GDP growth, along with low inflation and solid metrics across several other key indicators. This pickup in GDP growth corresponds with accelerating job creation and modest income gains for American households.   

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Mixed BC Inflation Readings Signal Stable Overall Picture

BC has recently seen some volatility in the monthly inflation numbers. The July all-items Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 1.4% from one year ago, which was well below the 1.9% year-over-year increase recorded in June. So far in 2014 inflation has been trending higher after a period of very little change over the second half of 2013.

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Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - The Costs Vary By Industry

Policy-makers in a growing number of jurisdictions are committed to taking steps to reverse – or at least slow the growth of – greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming.

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Job Market Improving…But Employment Growth in BC Remains Soft

July’s revised labour force report from Statistics Canada shows that employment growth remains sub-par in the province. The total number of people working did not change in July. But this sideways result follows an increase of 6,700 jobs the previous month. The past two months have seen a decent gain in the aggregate number of people working in the province and extends the modest positive trend that has been in place for seven or eight months.

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Math, Science and Reading in British Columbia

What were you doing at 15? Thinking about what career you were going to pursue as an adult? Probably not, and for most kids school is a bit of daily torture. Adults on the other hand are busy and constantly evaluating our children and teenagers on their reading, math and science skills, and often wringing our hands about test scores. For good reason. There is a strong correlation between how well educated we are and how well our economy performs both now and in the future.

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Trust: Why it is important in the public policy process and ways to reverse its erosion

There are lots of conversations these days about trust or the lack of it, particularly around the development of natural resources but also applying to business generally. But what exactly is trust? Why is it important to business and government?

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Is the U.S. Economy Poised for Multi-Year Boost from the Housing Sector?

Is it possible that America’s economy might surprise us with a sustained growth surge? The question came to mind as I recently slogged through a series of blog entries and reports on the web site of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Center’s researchers keep close tabs on U.S. housing markets and have a particular interest in the factors believed to influence the demand for housing.

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