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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: B.C.’s Energy Future — Natural gas prospects clouded by competitive marketplace

[Excerpt]  As well, Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of B.C. Business Council, worries that the province may be on the cusp of being branded as a difficult place to do business, thanks to regulatory torpor and what sometimes looks like First Nations’ and environmentalists’ opposition to everything.

That perception isn’t totally fair, he said in an interview. Disputes over environmental protection can be and often are settled politically. As well, a lot of business-First Nations partnerships are moving ahead, and many things are getting built.

“But there are days I wonder how anything gets done,” he confessed. “We aren’t there yet, but I see a risk this is how we’ll come to be seen.”

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Vancouver Sun, Don Cayo: Tie minimum wage increases to inflation, but start a bit higher

The province is doing the correct thing by tying future minimum wages increases to inflation, although you’d never guess it from the outraged reaction to Jobs Minister Shirley Bond’s announcement on Thursday.

The government is vilified and Bond is ridiculed in most of the responses I’ve seen, although the odd voice — B.C. Business Council’s executive vice-president Jock Finlayson, for example — does give credit where credit is due.

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Times Colonist: B.C.’s minimum wage to rise 20 cents to $10.45 in September

[Excerpt] The Business Council of B.C. issued a statement expressing support for the “fair and predictable” approach to setting the minimum wage.

Executive vice-president Jock Finlayson said the new policy will allow employee wages to keep pace with inflation, while giving small businesses a tool to manage labour costs.

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Bloomberg: Canada’s West Coast on Timber to Tech Economic Rebound

[Excerpt] The outlook isn’t all blue sky. British Columbia’s mining industry is in the doldrums, hurt by low prices for metals and coal used in steelmaking. Metals and energy exports accounted for about a third of B.C. exports by dollar value last year, according to government data.

Prospects for the rapid development of British Columbia’s nascent liquefied natural gas industry also have been “dimmed” by turmoil in energy markets, Jock Finlayson, policy chief at the Business Council of British Columbia, said last week by phone.

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Vancouver Sun, Editorial: Is there a peak for Metro housing prices? Impossible to say

Vancouver is reaching the outer limits of conceivable pricing for home buyers. That view, expressed recently by Business Council of B.C. executive vice-president Jock Finlayson, reflects the sentiments of many.

However, similar observations have been made in the past. Still, the cost of housing in the Vancouver area has kept climbing. It is impossible to predict when the pricing peak truly will be reached.

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BC Business Magazine: B.C. will lead Canada in economic growth in 2015: report

Echoing a report from the Business Council of B.C. last month, the Conference Board of Canada’s Provincial Outlook: Winter 2015 predicts B.C. will lead Canada in economic growth this year, followed by Ontario and Manitoba. The reasons: a low Canadian dollar, a stronger U.S. economy and stronger consumer confidence. Lower oil prices will hurt provinces like Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.For Canada as a whole, economic growth will be just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared to 2.4 per cent in 2014.

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CFTK-TV Terrace: Donaldson Not Impressed With BC Budget

[EXCERPT] The budget is drawing praise from business leaders but criticism from social advocates.

Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of BC says the business world doesn't want to see any surprises on budget day and Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivered.

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Bloomberg (Business News Network): British Columbia to cut bond sales on third straight surplus

[EXCERPT] “British Columbia is managing its books, including the accumulation of debt, with an eye on the credit rating agencies for sure,” Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer of the Business Council of British Columbia, said in an interview. “It’s a top priority for the finance minister and the premier.”

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Vancouver housing prices rise, but folks keep on buying

[EXCERPT] Someone is doing the buying. But it’s hard to fathom how the average Vancouverite can afford a lot of the property that is for sale, given that — as Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C. put it last week — “B.C. remains a middling income performer within the national context.”

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Additionally, notes the business council, 14.3 per cent of B.C. residents are low income, with income just half the after-tax median of all B.C. households. And, more than 15 per cent of B.C. children live in households below the low-income cutoff.

Finlayson calls the gap between Lower Mainland incomes and house prices “a puzzle that continues to generate a lot of discussion among economists and housing market analysts.”

He cites four factors that help explain the puzzle.

• Affluent immigrants are a big part of population growth in Metro Vancouver, and they favour home ownership.

• Interest rates are low, allowing people to crack the market.

• Many Lower Mainlanders have long owned their properties and today have minimal mortgages and considerable equity.

• People in the region are making compromises, opting for condos in the suburbs and living small. “Lots of families in this region are raising children in two-bedroom condos of under 900 square feet.”

• Others are adapting by getting creative. Says Finlayson, noting “they install basement suites, they have two generations of family living under the same roof, they get their parents to help, (some) operate small grow-ops in their basement.”

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Vancouver Sun: No tax increases, modest spending in budget earns praise from B.C. business leaders

[EXCERPT] And the balanced budget, without raising taxes, is a good starting point, according to Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of B.C.

“A lot of provinces are wrestling with significant budget deficits, or at least deteriorating fiscal positions,” Finlayson said. “B.C. at least stands out as being in a pretty strong position. That’s going to be well received by investors.”

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Globe and Mail: B.C. budget fails to help families make ends meet, critics say

[EXCERPT]  Jock Finlayson, an economist and executive vice president of the Business Council of B.C., said the government phasing out the 2-per cent tax hike won’t have a major impact on the economy, but could help lure more entrepreneurs and professionals to the province. He added that as a matter of “political philosophy,” B.C. and Alberta tax their richest earners considerably less than the other provinces, noting “it’s up to the voters to decide what they want.”

He said B.C.’s overall income tax rates are “fairly low” and families are more likely to worry about job opportunities than how much they pay the government in taxes.

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Globe and Mail: Balanced B.C. budget features higher user fees, little tax relief

[EXCERPT] But Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C. said the government’s management on the spending side has helped put the province on good footing, and applauded the cautious assumptions about revenues. He added that the budget demonstrates the benefit of a diverse economy that has protected the province from some of the wild swings of the past. “B.C. is not a boom/bust economy that people remember.”

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The Canadian Press (Global News): B.C. tables balanced budget

[EXCERPT] Business Council of B.C. vice-president Jock Finlayson applauded the news of yet another balanced budget.

“There are no big surprises in here,” he said. “For the business world, we don’t want big surprises, especially on budget day.”

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: BC should be spending more to increase competitiveness

As the B.C. government prepares to table another surplus budget today, its policy of spending restraint is being called into question.

Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of B.C.’s influential business council, says the Christy Clark government’s decision “to reduce real per-capita public-sector capital outlays, at a time of historically low borrowing costs, requires a rethinking, in our view.”

The business council, which supports balanced budgets, is specifically recommending a re-evaluation of B.C.’s three-year capital spending plan, as outlined in last year’s budget, “in light of record low borrowing costs that are expected to stay at historically low levels through 2015-2016, and perhaps beyond.”

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The Canadian Press (Castanet): B.C. woos Asian business

Politicians and business leaders have initiated a $6.5 million plan to entice Asian companies to bring their headquarters to Vancouver.

HQ Vancouver, a new partnership between the B.C. and federal governments and the Business Council of B.C., launched Friday and will attempt to coax Asian companies to locate their North American head offices in the city.

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Business in Vancouver: New program to lure Asian headquarters to Vancouver

Greg D'Avignon says it’s unfortunate that a friend of his enjoys living in Vancouver but finds it necessary to fly to Hong Kong frequently to work at a major accounting firm.

That kind of lifestyle is something the Business Council of B.C. (BCBC) CEO hopes to curb through a new initiative designed to bring Asian companies’ headquarters to Vancouver.

“We have the most Asian-centric population of anywhere in North America,” D’Avignon told Business In Vancouver. “We’re not connecting those relationships and those familial ties as effectively as we should at a personal level, but on a business level as well.”

The HQ Vancouver program – a partnership between the BCBC, Victoria and Ottawa – launched Friday (February 13) and began identifying targets and building business cases for corporate relocations.

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Business in Vancouver: Tech sector looks to lure Alberta talent to BC

[EXCERPT] B.C. has experienced a net loss of about 42,000 people over the past two decades with about half of those moving to Alberta, according to a May 2014 report from the Business Council of BC (BCBC). In the last two years alone, 7,500 of those people were in the 15-to-24, 25-to-34 and 35-to-44 age groups.

BCBC economist and report co-author Ken Peacock said that after years of strain on the B.C. labour market, the province can “almost certainly” count on a large number of those people returning from Alberta.

He noted the workers essentially fall into two categories: those who have moved with their families across the Rockies or interprovincial employees who work in Alberta for extended periods while technically residing in B.C.

Peacock said it may be trickier to bring back people who’ve already uprooted their families once, but a high-tech worker doing contract work would be a good example of someone who would move back.

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Business in Vancouver: Economic council predicts 2.6% real GDP growth for BC in 2015

B.C.’s Economic Forecast Council predicts real GDP growth to be 2.6% in 2015 — down slightly from its December estimate of 2.7%.

The council also announced Thursday (February 5) it expects real GDP growth to hit 2.8% in 2016, an uptick of 0.1% from its previous estimate. The 2017-19 outlook remains at 2.5%.

It is quite fascinating right now,” Business Council of B.C. economist Ken Peacock told Business In Vancouver.

He said 2.6% is a fairly average performance but “that pace could very well lead all of the provinces in Canada.”

Peacock noted oil-producing provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be hit by slow growth this year.

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Castanet: Skills gap costing BC billions

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada shows skills shortages cost the B.C. economy up to $6 billion in foregone GDP and $785 million in tax revenues annually.

It's projected there will be one million job openings in the province by 2022 and 760,000 of those jobs will require some kind of specialized training. Without a focus to meet that demand, the labour force will reach a point where demand outstrips supply by 2019, the report states.

Many of those unfilled jobs or mismatched skills are in the trades, but not all.

Greg D'Avignon of the Business Council of British Columbia says those jobs will be in technology, software engineering, but also in middle management, transportation and tourism as well as forestry and mining.

"That runs the gamut from engineers to environmental technologists, pipe fitters and journeymen," he says.

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Business in Vancouver: Drop in Canadian dollar spells upswing for BC forestry industry

Consumers may not like paying higher prices for some goods in stores but the Loonie’s recent fall is getting B.C.’s forestry sector poised for major growth in 2015.

Business Council of B.C. economist Ken Peacock said the recent decline in the Canadian dollar, which was sitting at 80.5 cents U.S. Thursday morning (February 5), makes exports south of the border even more enticing for Americans as U.S. housing starts grow.

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