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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Fast-growing India offers opportunities for B.C.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Lower Mainland last week drew attention to potential benefits from stronger links between B.C. and the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

India’s GDP grew by 7.2 per cent last year. This year the developing democracy, with an expanding middle class and vast population of young people, is expected to expand 7.5 per cent, surpassing that of China.

Yet a new report from the Business Council of B.C. reveals only 1.6 per cent of this province’s merchandise exports go to India (mainly copper, coal, wood pulp and newsprint).

By comparison, the Chinese market accounts for 18 per cent of our goods exports, and Japan 10.2 per cent.

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Journal of Commerce Blog: Ken Peacock of the Business Council of British Columbia at the ICBA Industry Outlook

Ken Peacock, the chief economist and vice president of the Business Council of British Columbia addressed an audience of industry leaders at the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) Industry Outlook held April 23 in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Peacock began by calling the world economy a "serial disappointment." The United States is gaining momentum, which will help Canada and British Columbia, but questioned if this would continue.

Peacock said the Eurozone is barely growing, Japan is faltering, and China is decelerating, which may affect British Columbia.

The big macro-economic variables are low interest rates and the exchange rate. The exchange rate is good for exports, but not great for consumers, who will feel the cross-border pinch.

But the depreciating exchange rate does improve Canada's competitiveness, though "it's not a long term strategy," Peacock said. 

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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Tory budget disappoints on infrastructure

The Harper government’s budget, tabled on Tuesday, bypassed crucial infrastructure needs of cities like Vancouver in favour of putting cash quickly and directly into the hands of targeted groups of voters in an election year.

The government did not have much room to manoeuvre, balancing its budget with a relatively modest $1.4-billion surplus for contingencies.

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The Canadian Press (News 1130): B.C. will get infrastructure cash despite vote outcome in Metro Vancouver: feds

Industry Minister James Moore says British Columbia will get its fair share of federal infrastructure funding regardless of the outcome of a Metro Vancouver transit tax vote.

Speaking to a gathering of business leaders, Moore said the federal government would provide the province with promised investment dollars whether or not voters approve the historic transit plebiscite.

A proposed $7.5-billion public transportation overhaul over 10 years would include projects such as an upgraded rapid-transit system, a new bridge and additional buses.

“We know that our cities are getting more dense and more congested,” said Moore, who was in Vancouver for a meeting with members of the B.C. Business Council.

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Peace Arch News: B.C. endorses Ottawa's balanced budget

[Excerpt]  Business Council of B.C. president Greg D'Avignon said balancing the national budget, investing in transit and providing investment incentives for industries such as liquefied natural gas and forestry will help offset the effects of a slump in oil prices and weak commodity markets.

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Business in Vancouver: Lower Taxes for small business? Bad idea, say economists

[Excerpt] Lowering the rate further is only going to increase the already wide tax gap between small and larger companies, said Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer with the Business Council of British Columbia.

Dropping the tax rate to 9% will mean small businesses in B.C. will pay a combined federal and provincial tax of just 11.5%, compared to the 26% larger businesses pay.

That provides an incentive for businesses to stay under the $500,000 profit threshold, and that’s bad for Canada’s overall economy, argued Finlayson.

“Our problem is not that we have enough small companies. Our problem is that we’re drowning in them,” Finlayson said. “Large companies drive most of the exports, they do most of the R&D, they pay their workers higher wages and benefits.”

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Vancouver Sun: B.C. cities, businesses lobby for more funding in advance of budget announcement

[Excerpt]  And Jock Finlayson, head of the B.C. Business Council, said Monday his organization would prefer more spending on bricks and mortar even if it means the country stays in the red for an extra year.

“Record-low interest rates and borrowing costs make now an excellent time for the national government to increase spending on infrastructure development,” said Finlayson, the council’s executive vice-president and chief policy officer.

Key B.C. priorities include proposed new rapid transit lines in the Lower Mainland and an upgraded Trans-Canada Highway, according to Finlayson.

He also said most in the B.C. business community would likely be happy if the government delayed balancing the budget for a year in order to inject several billion into infrastructure.

“Generally the business community supports balanced budgets,” he told The Vancouver Sun. “But in the current environment of very slow economic growth and tepid job growth there is a risk that contractionary fiscal policy at the national government level could impart additional weakness to an already sluggish Canadian economy.”

Finlayson said B.C. corporate leaders would also like to see Ottawa “step up its profile and commitment to collaborative engagement and capacity-building with Aboriginal communities in the province.”

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BC Business Magazine: B.C. has a water problem

[Excerpt]  While the Business Council of B.C. supports the legislative overhaul, they are concerned about the focus on large-scale industrial users. “In B.C., the natural resource sector attracts a disproportionate amount of attention in water use discussions, even though the cumulative sum of many small users may have as large or a larger impact on water quantity and quality than all of the industrial users,” it said in a 2014 submission to the province.

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Denise Mullen, director of environment and sustainability for the Business Council, wants a plan that exempts saline water from regulations. The council doesn’t want large cost increases and would like all users to report water use: “If you exempt people from reporting—say, mostly domestic users—you don’t have a complete picture.”

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Ken Peacock speaks with Jon McComb on CKNW

Ken Peacock speaks with Jon McComb on CKNW about BC's Natural Resource sector as part of Putting BC to Work

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Higher Ground Video of Exports: putting B.C. to work

Increased economic activity through exports creates jobs and lots of them. That’s the message the president of Export Development Canada delivered at the Business Council of British Columbia and CKNW’s “Putting B.C. to Work” event.

Benoit Daignault says despite the downturn in the energy sector, B.C.’s natural resource exports are still No. 1 and going strong. Hear what he has to say and more from panelist Woodfibre LNG vice president Byng Giraud, only on this week’s Higher Ground by ResourceWorks.com.


E36 Higher Ground by ResourceWorks.com (April 13, 2015).mp4 from Resource Works on Vimeo.

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ExportWise: Vision and Luck: Why BC is Canada's Most Diverse Economy

[Excerpt] As an outlier within the Canadian economy, B.C. is certainly its most diverse. Right now, B.C. sends 44 per cent of its exports to Asia, the highest percentage by far of any province. (The next closest in terms of export percentage is Saskatchewan, which sends just over 20 per cent of its products to Asia.)

Why? A combination of vision and luck, says Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC), which provides public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance B.C.’s competitiveness.

No doubt, the province has natural and historic ties to Asia. With a large diaspora of Asians living in B.C., more than 40 per cent of its residents are of Asian descent, giving Vancouver bragging rights as the most diversified city in North America.

But for many other reasons, including the lower Canadian dollar, U.S. economic growth and stronger consumer confidence, B.C. is easily outpacing Canadian economic growth right now.

Certainly in the last three years, the energy story has gained some ground, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG). With more than $300 billion in contemplated projects coming up, LNG is the bottle opener, he adds. “If not the future of B.C., it’s definitely a big play moving forward,” says D’Avignon.

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: B.C.’s forestry industry a vital, neglected economic force

B.C.’s forestry sector may not be as sexy as a potential liquefied natural gas industry in the north or all the high-tech companies that have been moving to Vancouver, but it is time the provincial government started showing it some renewed love.

A report by the Business Council of B.C. touts the sector as highly productive and a great job generator — “one of the province’s dominant economic engines”.

But the council warns that the industry is about to experience a contraction, and faces a host of competitiveness challenges.

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Jock Finlayson on CKNW's Putting BC to Work

How Education is Driving BC's Economy

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Business in Vancouver: High-growth companies debate allure of Vancouver

[Excerpt]  Despite the challenges high-growth companies face when headquartered in Vancouver, the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) is banking on the city’s advantages as an attractive place to live.

In February, the BCBC’s $6.5 million HQ Vancouver program began identifying targets and building business cases for corporate relocations from Asia to B.C.

Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the BCBC, told Business in Vancouver at the time of the launch that Montreal, Toronto and Calgary have all been far more assertive carving out niches for corporate headquarters for aerospace, financial services and oil and gas companies.

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Business in Vancouver: B.C. business eyes Seattle's $15 minimum wage experiment

[Excerpt]  Economists, labour leaders and business groups agree it’s time B.C. followed a yearly process for predictable increases to the minimum wage. Other Canadian provinces and several U.S. states already tie their minimum wage to inflation. 

 B.C.’s previous ad hoc approach led to the province’s hourly minimum wage being frozen at $8 between 2001 and 2011. That stasis was not good for B.C.’s economy, said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of BC.

“We were concerned that freezing it was reducing the purchasing power of the people who are paid at minimum wage,” Finlayson said, “and that it was also going to build up pressure for a big jump in the minimum wage, which is just what happened.” 

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Finlayson said studies by economists have shown that small increases in the minimum wage don’t have a negative impact on employment. But far less is known about the impact of a big increase. 

 “We don’t have a lot of real-world examples in the kind of things Seattle is doing,” Finlayson said.

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Jock Finlayson kicks off CKNW's Putting BC to Work

Jock discusses the importance of entrepreneurship to BC's economy with Jon McComb as part of the CKNW series, Putting BC to Work

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Nanaimo Business News: BC Business Council Supports Minimum Wage Plan

The Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) has offered its support to the Provincial Government’s announced revisions of the province’s minimum wage structure. “The Business Council supports the government’s decision March 12 to implement a modest increase of the statutory minimum wage of $0.20 to $10.45 and to index future increases to the consumer price index as the Council has previously advocated,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia.

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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Slower hikes to minimum wage make more sense

[Excerpt] A policy paper last year by the Business Council of B.C. cited research showing “small periodic adjustments have little impact on the demand for labour or overall employment. But larger increases in wage costs carry a greater risk of labour displacement,” with greatest effects felt by the younger, less experienced workers who most rely on minimum wage work.

In other words, unless big hikes in the minimum wage are accompanied by equally sudden and substantial gains in productivity, employers seek ways to cut their labour costs, to maintain whatever profit they have come to rely on.

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Bond’s announcement of the $10.45 minimum, with regular increases going forward, will be welcomed by most people and was swiftly endorsed by the B.C. Business Council. This is an expensive place to live and the wage hike, along with other social program improvements recently announced by the province, will assist those on modest incomes.

B.C. needs always to be mindful of maintaining its competitiveness, something that would become difficult if its minimum wage were to be significantly higher than elsewhere in Canada.

As business council policy chief Jock Finlayson warns, “there’s no free lunch in economics.”

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future: What will the future look like?

Imagine — if you can conjure up such an improbable fantasy — a government of the not-too-distant future decreeing that all B.C.’s landscape-altering hydro dams be removed, and flooded land and river courses returned to their natural state.

This scenario is such a stretch that Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, cites it to illustrate his point that, once massive energy investments have been made, no one is likely to walk away from them in a hurry.

Ergo, come hell or high water, Site C or no Site C, the dam-building decisions of the W.A.C. Bennett era more than half a century ago will ensure this province remains highly dependent on hydro electricity for a long time to come.

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future — Government role vital to propel clean, sustainable alternatives

[Excerpt] But Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C., notes that even if policy decisions jump-starts an industry here, there will be limits to how much of a boost it can provide.

“The share of renewables in the world’s energy mix is inching up, and I expect this to continue,” he said in an interview. “But it’s at a very slow pace.

“If you look at the history of energy consumption, changes like this aren’t a decades-long process, they’re a centuries-long process. Even if you have new technologies, it is going to take a long time to displace the existing ones. So most of the global growth that we’re seeing now will be driven by fossil fuels.”

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