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Globe and Mail: On Hydro, B.C. Premier John Horgan borrows a trick from the Liberal repertoire

[Excerpt] Economist Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C. grudgingly supports the continued construction of Site C, and he blames the former Liberal government for allowing Hydro's finances to decline. But he said the current government is going to have to face up to the need for rate hikes.

"The reality is, the cost of power is going to be going up in British Columbia, Site C or no Site C. All you have to do is look at Hydro's balance sheet to understand why," he said in an interview. "It's a huge dilemma for our elected officials, because they know the public doesn't want to hear that – a lot of my members don't want to hear that, to be candid."

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Globe and Mail: B.C. business group hikes 2017 outlook for second time this year

British Columbia's economy continues to grow faster than expected this year, the province's largest business organization says, with strong job growth, substantial increases in consumer spending, rising exports and booming tourism.

It is the second time the Business Council of B.C. has revised upward its economic forecast for 2017 – it now projects 3.1 per cent growth for the year. That continued buoyancy was also recognized on Thursday by the bond rating agency Standard & Poors, which confirmed the provincial government's coveted triple-A credit rating.

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Economist Jock Finlayson, co-author of the business council's report, said in an interview the province is enjoying "a nice tailwind" from low interest rates and a weak Canadian dollar.
 

The rosy fiscal and economic news was welcomed by Finance Minister Carole James. "Confirmation of our 'AAA' credit rating shows that British Columbia's economic performance is strong and that we are on a fiscally sustainable path forward," Ms. James said in a statement. "We will continue to take concrete steps to ensure the fiscal well-being of British Columbia both today and into the future."

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However, Mr. Finlayson said it will be more revealing to measure the government's fiscal record after Ms. James delivers her first full budget next February. And, he said, the positive economic news may be a coincidence rather than a reflection of this government.

"It's way too early to start attributing either the positive or negative trends we see in the B.C. economy to the work of government," he said, adding: "Most of what happens in the economy isn't driven by government anyway."

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Business in Vancouver: Americans beating B.C. firms to punch in enterprise expansion

The fifth annual summit, presented by the Business Council of BC (BCBC), aimed to address how B.C. companies expand in a province reliant on a disproportionately significant number of small businesses.

A new BCBC report presented by economists Jock Finlayson and Ken Peacock highlighted that the province is home to 7,900 businesses employing 50 or more people compared with 396,000 enterprises that qualify as small businesses.

Last year, according to the report, the province had 83.4 small businesses per 1,000 persons compared with the national benchmark of 69.9.

Finlayson and Peacock argued that a higher number of large businesses in B.C. would boost compensation, increase productivity and expand international trade.

“We believe the paucity of larger enterprises is an impediment to building globally competitive industry clusters in B.C. – and to developing a more innovative economy generally,” the BCBC report stated.

The report recommended that policy-makers reduce basic corporate income tax to encourage the growth of small businesses, introduce tax incentives to businesses that make investments to expand and adjust research and development support to boost growth.

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BC Business Magazine: How will business fare with the NDP back at the helm?

Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer of the Business Council of British Columbia, shares Clark’s equanimity. “I’m relatively sanguine,” Finlayson says. “We know the premier [John Horgan] and his key ministers reasonably well,” having kept the lines of communication open, before and since the election. “We’re not expecting the province to go off the rails or for there to be a particularly acrimonious relationship.”

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BIV on Roundhouse October 27: Jock Finlayson on Federal Fall Economic Statement

On the latest show, Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C. discusses the implications of this week’s big economic new, including the government’s plans to shrink the federal deficit. 

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News 1130: Prominent BC business leader worried over future of NAFTA

Hope is fading whether Canada’s strongest trade agreement with the United States can be renewed.

A prominent business leader in BC is expecting the next round of NAFTA talks to be contentious.

Jock Finlayson, who’s the Chief Policy Officer with the Business Council of BC, says much has changed since negotiations aimed at simply modernizing the 23-year-old deal started.

“We thought there was a sort of good faith effort. Increasingly it appears the Americans are actually looking for a reason to put a bullet into NAFTA –at least President Trump is anyway. Negotiations so far do not appear to be going very well.”

The fourth round of talks ended with fears of a complete withdrawal by the United States and Finlayson admits he’s worried because that country is still our biggest trade partner.

“Prospects are not looking very rosy at the moment.”

 

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Business in Vancouver: Federal deficit to be lower, thanks to strong growth

The federal deficit will be about $9 billion lower than expected, thanks to a windfall from strong economic growth.

In a fall economic update, federal finance Minister Bill Morneau announced October 24 that the deficit, originally projected to be $29 billion, will come in at $20 billion.

The Canadian economy has been growing at 3.7%, which, for Canada is “absolutely white hot,” said Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer for the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC).

It’s also unsustainable, and expectations are that economic growth will cool to a more normal level of about 2% next year.

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News 1130: Liberals announce huge drop in federal deficit and a lot more spending to come

[Excerpt] Jock Finlayson with the Business Council of British Columbia says this is a sign Canada’s economy is performing much better than expected, but he’s worried about what happens if NAFTA trade talks fail and not enough money is dedicated to further reducing this country’s debt.

“Well, the next recession could be just around the corner. When the economy is doing quite well as we are at the moment, there’s an argument for moving more quickly to get back into a balanced budget –if not a surplus– and the Trudeau government is moving in that direction, but they’re doing it, really, with baby steps.”

He adds the danger with the government spending more is the Bank of Canada will feel pressure to keep raising interest rates, which is bad news for anyone trying to buy a home in BC.

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Globe and Mail: BC NDP’s warning on fish-farm tenures bad for investors, critic says

The B.C. government's "arbitrary" threat to review long-standing tenures for fish farms is sending a chilling message to investors across the province, a top business leader says.

"The last time I looked, there were over 60,000 leases in the province and they cover every part of British Columbia's economy," Greg D'Avignon, president of the Business Council of B.C., said in an interview. "It calls into question the certainty of tenures, leases and use of Crown lands on everything from agriculture to recreational properties to the natural resource industries both on the water and on the land."

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Business in Vancouver: Province appoints minimum wage commission

The B.C. NDP government has named three officials from the academic, industry and labour sectors to form a panel that will advise the province on how to institute a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The Fair Wages Commission will consist of economist and Simon Fraser University professor emeritus Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Business Council of B.C. vice-president Ken Peacock and United Food and Commercial Workers Union president Ivan Limpright. (Peacock is a regular contributor to Business in Vancouver).

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Times Colonist: B.C. commission formed to find route to $15 minimum wage

A new Fair Wages Commission will report to the B.C. government early next year on the best way to achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage, Labour Minister Harry Bains said Thursday.

Bains said the three-member panel will begin work immediately and make recommendations within 90 days of its first meeting.

“Collectively, their job will be to determine a pathway to a $15 minimum wage,” he told reporters at the B.C. legislature.

The NDP government has backed away from its campaign promise of reaching $15 by 2021, opting instead for the B.C. Green Party’s idea of establishing an independent advisory body.

Marjorie Griffin Cohen, an economist and professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, will chair the commission, which includes Ken Peacock, vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, and Ivan Limpright, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

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The Chronicle Herald: Three commissioners named to plan minimum wage increase to $15 in B.C.

British Columbia's labour minister has appointed an economist to lead a commission to advise the government on boosting the province's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Prof. Marjorie Griffin Cohen of Simon Fraser University will chair the Fair Wages Commission, which also includes Ken Peacock, vice-president at the Business Council of British Columbia, and Ivan Limpright, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The commission is expected to deliver a report with a timeline to raise the minimum wage within 90 days of its first meeting.

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Surrey Now - Leader: Economist, union president named to Fair Wages Commission

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains has appointed retired Simon Fraser University professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen to chair the Fair Wages Commission, which must decide how quickly to increase B.C.’s minimum wage.

Griffin Cohen is best known as a founder of the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, an Ottawa-based think tank with support from trade unions. Also appointed is Ivan Limpright, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union and a vice-president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. B.C. Business Council vice president Ken Peacock is the third member.

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Metro News: British Columbia launches Fair Wages Commission to decide on $15 minimum wage

The new chair of British Columbia’s Fair Wages Commission says the province’s low wages are driving inequality.  Economist Marjorie Griffin Cohen, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University and the first chair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in B.C., was named head of the provincial commission responsible for steering B.C. towards a $15 minimum wage on Thursday. 

The new NDP government had initially promised to implement a $15 minimum wage by 2021 but chose instead to remove the timeline and defer to a commission made up of experts. 

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Cohen is joined on the commission by United Food and Commercial Workers Union president Ivan Limpright and Business Council of B.C. vice president Ken Peacock.

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BIV VIDEO: B.C. and Alberta, together 'till the end

Are B.C. and Alberta the country’s most interdependent economies? Ken Peacock, chief economist at the Business Council of B.C., discusses his new report examining the ties between the provinces. Ken joins Business in Vancouver's Kirk LaPointe and Tyler Orton on Roundhouse Radio 98.3. 

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BIV on Roundhouse September 25: The ties that bind B.C. and Alberta

Ken Peacock, chief economist at the Business Council of B.C., discusses his new report examining the ties between B.C. and Alberta, which he describes as the country’s most interdependent economies. [01:25]

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Vancouver Sun: Growth across the board in B.C. income and households: Stats Can

[Excerpt] The income growth “speaks to the strong job market we’ve seen in the Lower Mainland,” said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C.

“More people are working per household, helping to lift up household incomes here, though there continue to be concerns about low wages.”

Employment growth across Metro Vancouver, Finlayson said, has been broadly distributed in sectors such as high-tech, technical services such as engineering and environmental services, the port, airport and film production.

“That is one of the strengths of (Metro Vancouver’s) economy,” Finlayson said.

“The bad news is the cost of housing has gone up faster than incomes in the region,” Finlayson said.

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Metro Vancouver: Vancouver incomes rise - but not enough to match housing

Metro Vancouver’s booming job growth has paid off, with median household incomes rising higher than the national average over the past 10 years, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent Census 2016 release.

It should be a good news story. But for Jock Finlayson, an economist and chief policy officer for the Business Council of B.C., the numbers don’t add up.

“Notwithstanding some good news in this report that we’ve seen some growth in household income in B.C. and Metro Vancouver, the fact is, housing costs have gone up by more,” Finlayson told Metro.

“In a sense the median household is worse off than they were a decade ago, unless they were already in the market and had acquired a property a number of years ago.”

Median household incomes in Metro Vancouver rose 11.2 per cent between 2005 and 2015, translating to a median income of $72,662 in 2015. During the same period, the benchmark price of residential real estate rose 74 per cent for Greater Vancouver, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

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“We’ve been seeing job growth in Metro Vancouver at four to five per cent a year, which is absolutely off the charts for any Canadian jurisdiction,” Finlayson said. “That’s obviously paying off with some improvement with household incomes.”

 

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CBC: Reaction to NDP budget update mainly positive

[Excerpt] Some in the business community are concerned about an increase in the corporate tax rate, up to 12 from 11 per cent.

People earning more than $150,000 a year will now face a personal income tax rate of 16.8 per cent up from 14.7 per cent.

Jock Finlayson, with the Business Council of British Columbia, said the higher rates could push talented people out of British Columbia or keep them from coming, especially combined with tax reform expected from Ottawa.

Meanwhile, he and others were supportive of a tax cut for small businesses and a promise to remove PST from electricity for businesses.

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BIV on Roundhouse September 12: NDP budget a yellow light for business investment

On the latest show, Jock Finlayson from the Business Council of British Columbia weighs in on the NDP’s interim budget update. In terms of what the budget signals to the broader business community, Finlayson tells co-hosts Kirk LaPointe and Hayley Woodin that it's giving investment a yellow light. [01:45]

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