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CBC: High speed rail between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland inches closer to reality

[Excerpt]

The B.C. Business Council says up to 500 people travel between Vancouver and Seattle each day to work in the tech sector and describes the two cities as growing technology hubs.

Greg D'Avignon, the president and CEO of the BCBC says a high speed rail line would help support job creation.

"This is just one of the pieces of the puzzle that would be necessary for us to be a global city that's really competing in the knowledge economy," he said.

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BIV on Roundhouse March 9: Businesses boost support for women entrepreneurs

BIV on Roundhouse - March 8, 2018

From the Business Council of BC, Denise Mullen discusses women and work in British Columbia. [14:15]

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Okanagan Edge: Why the gender gap matters

In honour of International Women’s Day, Okanagan Edge today presents the first of a series of blogs examining the place of British Columbian women in the workplace.

Penned by authors at the Business Council of B.C., the six-part series explores issues such as the gender pay gap; women’s labour force participation; the link between education, child care, and missed opportunities; and women’s entrepreneurship and self-employment.

As the president of BCBC, Greg D'Avignon, points out, “women’s labour force participation is not simply a women’s issue. It is a complex topic with broad economic impacts.”

In this series, authors Denise Mullen and Kristine St-Laurent break down some of those impacts, starting today with the gender gap, and why it matters.

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Globe and Mail: Real Estate Job Sector Balloons in BC

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Jock Finlayson, economist and chief policy officer for Business Council of B.C., says that people believe real estate, particularly sales, is a high-income profession that requires little training or education. Those jobs are likely on the rise because they are seen as easy money, especially when agents at the top of their game are earning millions of dollars.

"A lot of people are attracted to the industry because of the perception that there is a lot of money to be made, and of course there has been for those who are very successful, an extraordinary amount of money," he says.

"It's quite astonishing, the commission sales model in the real estate industry. It has seemingly been impervious to technological change and innovation that in so many other industries has driven out the extra costs around transactions.

 

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Globe and Mail: Notley threatens to turn off oil taps in dispute with B.C. over Trans Mountain pipeline

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Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president at the Business Council of B.C, said if crude oil is no longer flowing west to the Burnaby refinery, which supplies roughly a third of Southern B.C.'s demand for gasoline, then gas prices in the province could jump significantly.

 

Fuel shortages could develop and B.C. would need to increase its imports of both crude and refined petroleum from the United States and other countries, he added. "The economic impac obviously would be negative, since energy prices for B.C. businesses and consumers would be higher and there would be a scramble to find alternative fuel supply," he said on Thursday in an e-mailed statement. "If Alberta cut off supplies of refined petroleum products and not just of crude oil, the impact would be greater."

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Vancouver Courier: Finance minister: Canada’s response to Trump tariffs will be ‘appropriate but firm’

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s says Canada’s response to possible tariffs by the U.S. will be “appropriate but firm,” adding that Canada is a key partner to the United States supply chain.

Questions on the economic saber rattling between Canada and U.S. President Donald Trump dominated Morneau’s visit to Vancouver on Tuesday, both at a discussion session with the Business Council of British Columbia and later at the UBC campus. He said Canada’s approach to recent policy decisions by the U.S. government, namely an imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum, will be measured in nature.

“If required, we will be firm in our response, appropriate but firm,” Morneau said without going into detail what a response may look like or whether there is the option of pulling out of the talks for a new North American Free Trade Agreement. “We don’t see that linking steel and NAFTA is going to help us to get to an agreement.”

He was in town to promote the federal government’s 2018 budget and sat down with Vancouver’s business community at the Fairmont Pacific Rim to answer questions on the Canadian economy.

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CBC: Canada well-positioned to handle NAFTA turmoil: Morneau

A strong economy is allowing Canadian officials to push for a better deal in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday.

Talks on the deal are "critically important" but Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible agreement, he told the Business Council of British Columbia.

"Are there challenges? Yes. Do we need to be prepared to deal with them? Yes. We think that having our economy in the best possible position is the place from which we can do that, make decisions in a measured way, considering all the facts at hand," he said.

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Vancouver Sun: Finance Minister Morneau pressed on competitiveness by Vancouver business audience

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Certainty is important to the competitiveness of B.C. industry, said business council CEO Greg D’Avignon. “The competitiveness of Canada and British Columbia is really at risk,” he said in an interview.

B.C.’s economy has benefited from a favourable exchange rate with the US dollar and low interest rates that have given a big boost to the growth in housing and retail sales attached to that. However, if that spending diminishes, “you’ll start to find the foundation of the economy in B.C. and Canada are quite weak,” D’Avignon said.

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National Post: What's making news in British Columbia

Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke to the Business Council of British Columbia on Tuesday about some of the challenges facing Canada's economy.

Morneau said internal issues including the ongoing battle over the future of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion between the Edmonton area and Metro Vancouver. 

He said Ottawa is overhauling the approval process for similar projects, so potential investers can speak up earlier and timelines can be inplemented to give business certainty. 

Morneau also spoke about the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying the negotiations are "critically important" but Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible deal.

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Times Colonist: Canada well-positioned to handle turmoil over NAFTA talks: finance minister

[Excerpt]

A strong economy is allowing Canadian officials to push for a better deal in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday.

Talks on the deal are "critically important" but Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible agreement, he told the Business Council of British Columbia.

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iPolitics: Evening Brief: Tweets, trade and ‘very loving’ tariffs

A strong economy is allowing Canadian officials to push for a better deal in negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said today. Talks on the deal are “critically important” but Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible agreement, he told the Business Council of British Columbia.

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BIV: Canada tables European-style gender-focused budget

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The Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) criticized Morneau’s budget for its “endless string of operating deficits” and lack of measures to put Canada on an even competitive footing with the U.S.

"The government is not doing enough to address the fact that Canada has become too costly, too complex and too slow-moving to take advantage of new global opportunities - or to facilitate the investments needed to boost productivity and real wages,” said BCBC president Greg D’Avignon.

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Vancouver Sun: Federal budget 2018: B.C. wants to see more action on child care, transit and housing

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Business Council of B.C. chief policy officer Jock Finlayson said his organization is supportive of measures in the budget that include Indigenous reconciliation, gender equality and support for innovation and research.

What’s missing, however, are measures to come to grips with the much more competitive landscape that businesses are dealing because of U.S. protectionism and U.S. tax reforms.

“There’s a continuing erosion of our relative attractiveness for investment to the U.S. in traded-good industries,” said Finlayson.

That includes energy, all other natural resources and manufacturing, he said.

Finlayson pointed to the prospective liquefied natural gas export industry in British Columbia that never materialized.

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Vancouver Sun: Speculation over speculation taxes, affordability and foreign investment

EXCERPT:

Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of B.C., which estimates that over 35 per cent of economic growth in the province in the last few years is attributed to home building and renovation activities, was asked about the future of foreign investment in residential real estate.

“This budget signifies that policy-makers have decided we don’t need foreign investment in residential real estate. It couldn’t be clearer and I think it will be effective in discouraging that. And we certainly have domestic demand for housing. And I think it’s a signal, and one that I support, that policy has to be focused on the needs of the working, productive population here, not global capital markets, so that’s fine,” he said. “But we don’t want to discourage foreign investment generally in our economy nor do we want to discourage people from moving to Canada under our various immigration programs because that’s important in what makes our society and economy successful.”

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Vancouver Sun: Budget 2018: NDP's $5.5 billion in tax hikes - where the new money will come from

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The payroll tax takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019, to offset the loss in revenue from MSP premiums. Small businesses with payrolls less than $500,000 are exempt; the tax is on a sliding scale for companies with payrolls above $500,000, to a maximum of 1.95 per cent. The new tax came as a “nasty surprise,” said Jock Finlayson of the B.C. Business Council. “We weren’t expecting it.”

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Globe and Mail: New B.C. housing measures are ‘bold steps,’ minister says

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Jock Finlayson of the Business Council of British Columbia estimates that the real estate sector has accounted for at least one-third of economic growth in the province over the past three years.

He said the new measures may slow sales of high-end homes. "But for the rest of the market, the picture is less clear. The fundamental drivers of housing demand – demographic growth, the job market and borrowing costs – have not changed, so there may be no effect on the larger market beyond a perhaps a few months of uncertainty and reduced transactions."

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Bloomberg: British Columbia Budget Dismays Businesses While Investors Shrug

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“The new budget will do little to boost business investment,” said Jock Finlayson, chief policy office of the Business Council of British Columbia. Compared with their U.S. counterparts, B.C. businesses on average invest less than 60 percent per employee in machinery, equipment and other assets that boost productivity, he said. 

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National Observer: B.C.'s budget calls for momentous change in housing, childcare

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The Business Council of British Columbia said it is is concerned about the cost of the new tax.

“Our initial assessment is that this new tax will increase overall payroll costs for our members by several hundred million dollars a year,” Greg D’Avignon, the Business Council’s President and CEO, said in a statement.

The BCBC said it supports the childcare investment and is cautious about the housing measures.

"While further review of their potential impact is warranted, the planned changes, taken together, are unprecedented in scope and may cause some disruption to the market,” D'Avignon said.

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BIV: B.C. Budget 2018: Reaction to affordable housing policies

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Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer at the Business Council of British Columbia, called the $500 million of revenue to be generated from new housing tax announcements “significant,” noting the funds will likely go toward housing affordability initiatives, and toward general government programs. 

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CTV News: B.C. budget promises big child care savings, end to MSP premiums

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But Jock Finlayson, vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, said on the housing side, the government is more focused on relaxing demand pressures than offering more immediate help to municipalities and developers to increase supply.

“If you're worried about pricing and affordability there is a supply side to the market to look at,” he said. “It's not all about demand. That's kind of missing.”

Also published in the Ottawa Citizen and Financial Post.

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