BCBC In The News
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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]
CFJC Today: Budget promises more money for education, higher income taxes for some
[Excerpt] Jock Finlayson, B.C. Business Council vice president, said the business community expected the tax changes as they were part of the NDP’s election platform, but “this budget isn’t going to create a lot of new investment.”
He said the increase in personal income tax, coupled with federal government tax changes, could result in B.C. businesses not being able to attract top-job candidates.
Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows News: B.C.’s budget update has its fans and foes
[Excerpt] The Business Council of B.C. though says in a release that it appreciated the steps taken to address cost of living in the province, but the council is concerned about added costs for employers who pay the wages. It also noted that the yearly forecast budget surpluses are smaller than left by the Liberals in 2016-17. It said the government has to be careful about “hardwiring” new spending increases into its budget.
Vancouver Sun: B.C. tax hikes won't take big bite out of economy, economists say
Tax hikes for the wealthy and on corporations introduced in Finance Minister Carole James’ budget update Monday are unlikely to put an immediate dent in the economy but could dampen future investment, according to economists.
For businesses, the one per cent increase is expected to generate an additional $103 million in its first partial year from January to the end of March of 2018, then $313 million in its first full year.
But the rate will still be competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer for the Business Council of B.C.
“Having said that, economists would be unanimous, I think, in saying that higher effective tax rates on earnings, almost by definition, have a negative effect on capital formation and investment,” Finlayson said.
That means in a higher tax environment, businesses need to earn a higher profit to justify additional investment in that location, he said, which is where a longer-term impact might come out of B.C.’s business tax change.
The promise to cut Medical Service Plan premiums in half, then eliminate them, has a significant positive impact on companies that pay those costs, Finlayson said. The $5-per-tonne increase to the provincial carbon tax, however, is negative.
Finlayson said the increase to the top marginal personal income tax rate for people earning more than $150,000 per year might be a bigger concern, since it is combined with the four per cent increase added to the federal top marginal tax rate for those earning more than $250,000 enacted in 2016.
The Globe and Mail: B.C. economy forecast to grow faster than expected this year
[Excerpt] Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer at the Business Council of British Columbia, said the NDP government will not be able to count on strength in consumer spending for much longer. "Looking ahead, we need to see a pickup in business investment and further gains in exports in order to achieve a healthier and more balanced economic growth profile in B.C.," Mr. Finlayson said in a statement.