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News Releases and Op-Eds

NEWS RELEASE: Budget 2017 Moves Toward Improved Business Competitiveness While Still Balancing the Books

Victoria - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s provincial budget, which managed to find room for tax relief while maintaining the government’s commitment to balance the budget.  This is a noteworthy accomplishment at a time of global uncertainty and when most other provinces continue to face budgetary shortfalls.  Keeping the books balanced reaffirms the government’s commitment to prudent fiscal management, and provides BC with some policy flexibility going forward. 

“Delivering a balanced budget within a climate of modest economic growth and a mixed outlook for commodities sets BC apart and signals that the province is a stable place to invest and do business,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia.  “We congratulate Minister de Jong and his cabinet colleagues for their continued focus on disciplined expenditure management.”

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Retooled U.S. tax regime could erode Canada’s competitive advantage (Business in Vancouver)

As U.S. President Donald Trump settles into office and the Republican-controlled Congress begins work on its legislative agenda, it is clear that sweeping changes are in store for U.S. policies in several areas. Overall, the direction of change is likely to pose some significant economic challenges for Canada.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Freelance job market booming, but there are real risks (Troy Media & Business in Vancouver)

The rise of the gig or sharing economy is one of the most visible trends shaping the contemporary labour market.

Gig jobs are an example of what economists describe as non­standard work. Such work can be contrasted with a traditional job, in which a person has a durable and structured relationship with a specific employer within a permanent workforce.

Today, more people than ever generate income via contracting, freelancing, temporary assignments and various kinds of on­call arrangements.

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D’Avignon & Graham Op-Ed: A Fresh Look at the Role of Natural Resource Sectors in BC's Economy (The Vancouver Sun)

As leaders from government, industry, and First Nations communities gather again in Prince George for the 14th Annual Natural Resources Forum, it is worth taking a fresh look at the important role natural resource sectors play in British Columbia’s economy, today and into the future.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Welcome to the "Gig" Economy (People Talk)

The rise of the “gig” or “sharing” economy is one of the most consequential trends shaping the contemporary labour market.  “Gig” jobs are an example of what economists describe as “contingent” work.  Such work can be contrasted with a traditional job, in which a person has a durable and structured employment relationship with a specific employer that maintains a permanent (or long-term) workforce.  Today, more people than ever before are generating income via contracting, free-lancing, temporary assignments, and various kinds of on-call arrangements.  All of these forms of non-traditional work are part of the “gig economy.”

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: More fiscal discipline needed down at your local city hall (Business in Vancouver)

Added together, the 21 municipalities that make up Metro Vancouver spent $3.74 billion on operations in 2015. This is separate from their outlays on infrastructure and other capital projects; nor does it include spending by the regional district.

In B.C., municipalities are responsible for delivering a wide array of services, including fire and police protection, garbage and recycling, water and sewer services, parks and recreation and roadworks. In a region that’s home to 2.5 million people, it is not surprising that local governments must earmark sizable sums to supply these services. What is striking, however, is the pace at which such expenditures have been growing in Metro Vancouver. As documented in a recent Business Council of British Columbia report (www.bcbc.com), over the past decade total municipal spending in the Metro Vancouver region jumped by a hefty 67%. Spending growth has slowed in the last few years, but the magnitude of the increase since 2005 stands out.

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RELEASE: BCBC Welcomes Provincial Government Approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s decision by the province to grant an environmental assessment certificate, with conditions, to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and to confirm that this project has met the government’s five conditions. This is an important step in advancing a nationally significant project that will deliver benefits to British Columbia communities and workers while meeting growing global demand for oil.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: 10 economic issues that will affect British Columbia in 2017 (Business in Vancouver)

As we roll into 2017, equity markets appear to embody optimism about the year to come, business investment remains sluggish and political uncertainty abounds as Donald Trump is about to assume office, Europe grapples with various existential crises and British Columbians gear up for the provincial election in May.

What will developments in the international arena mean for B.C. in 2017? How will our leading industries fare?

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Finlayson Op-Ed: 2016 year in review: Commodity markets improved but Canada lost competitiveness in 2016 (Business in Vancouver)

It’s been an eventful 12 months, and anyone asked to identify the biggest economic stories of the year faces a cornucopia of choices. To my mind, four stand out – three are “external” to B.C., while the final story unfolded within the province.

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Finlayson Op-ed: Trump's energy, environmental policies threat to Canadian business (Troy Media and Times Colonist)

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to assume office, it is clear that major changes are in store for American climate and energy policy. Mr. Trump’s cabinet appointments, read in conjunction with the Republican Party’s platform in the 2016 election, leave little doubt that the United States will be adopting an approach to climate and energy policy that differs markedly from the one embraced by the outgoing Obama administration.

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RELEASE: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge Line 3 replacement approval

The Business Council of British Columbia supports the federal government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project as announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon.

“This decision recognizes that the Trans Mountain project and Enbridge Line 3 replacement are in the national interest and that there is a place for Canadian oil in global markets, even as the world shifts toward renewable and lower carbon energy forms and cleaner technology,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia.  “Global demand for energy continues to grow and fossil fuels will be a major source of energy for decades to come. Canada’s responsibly sourced and well-regulated energy resources can play an important role in fulfilling this global demand.”

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NEWS RELEASE: Business Council of BC Welcomes Report by Commission on Tax Competitiveness

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the report issued today by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness that was appointed several months ago to examine the structure and impact of business taxes and to provide policy options that will support growth and job creation in BC.

At a time of sluggish global economic growth, heightened competitive pressure for small regional economies, and accelerating technological change, it makes sense to review the role of tax policy in shaping the environment for business activity.  Particularly for trade-dependent jurisdictions like British Columbia, a broadly competitive tax system is essential if we are to attract the investment and stimulate the entrepreneurial wealth creation needed to sustain jobs and grow incomes. 

“The Commission on Tax Competitiveness’s report outlines a number of valuable recommendations for the provincial government to consider, including some that we hope will be taken up in the February 2017 budget, and others that can be acted on over the medium-term,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia.  “The Business Council commends the provincial government for establishing the Commission.  We look forward to the province acting on the Commissions’ recommendations to strengthen the foundations for BC’s economic prosperity.”

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Finlayson & Mullen Op-Ed: Without pipelines, Canada's prosperity is on the line (Troy Media & Vancouver Sun)

When it comes to reaching new energy markets, Canada lags dangerously behind the Americans, who have aggressively expanded their oil and gas industry and built the infrastructure necessary to support it. 

There are approximately 840,000 kilometers (km) of pipelines in Canada — 25,000 km of feeder lines, 250,000 km of gathering lines, 450,000 km of distribution lines, and 117,000 km of transmission lines.  They carry oil, refined petroleum products, and natural gas. The National Energy Board directly regulates ~73,000 km of this pipeline network; the provinces are largely responsible for everything else.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Economic silver linings for Canada in the Trump cloud (Troy Media)

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the Presidential election, coupled with continued Republican control of both branches of the U.S. Congress, heralds significant changes in American policy in the domains of trade, immigration, foreign affairs, energy and taxation, among other areas.  Many Canadians are understandably uneasy about the direction America may take under new leadership.  At a minimum, Mr. Trump’s political ascendancy injects added stress and uncertainty into an already fragile and unsettled world.

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Peacock Op-Ed: Looking to B.C. Budget 2017 — Strengthening B.C.’s Competitive Position (Surrey Business News)

B.C.’s economy is in reasonably good shape and the province looks to be on track to lead the country in economic and job growth this year and likely next year as well. This relatively buoyant economic backdrop is boosting B.C. government revenues and providing the province with some fiscal room. The recently released First Quarterly Report shows the B.C .government with a $2 billion surplus in 2016-17, thanks mostly to upside revenue surprises from personal income taxes and the property transfer tax.

While all this is good news, the fact is that British Columbia’s competitiveness within North America has eroded over the past several years. The extent of the problem varies across sectors and industries. But companies operating on the land base, manufacturers, and industries that rely significantly on energy to run their operations face mounting difficulties stemming from complex First Nations claims, onerous permitting and environmental rules, and high and still rising tax-inclusive energy costs. Across the province, the forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries are at the forefront of these challenges. Closer to home, in Surrey the agriculture industry and local manufacturers (lumber mills, parts of food processing, industrial equipment, high-tech) are all also challenged by B.C.’s deteriorating competitive position.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. tax regime hurts new investment in equipment, technology (Business in Vancouver)

While B.C. has recently posted some impressive economic numbers compared with the rest of the country, in a few areas we continue to underperform. The most glaring example is non-residential business investment.

Investment in “tangible” capital, such as machinery, equipment, structures, advanced technology products and engineering infrastructure, is essential to a thriving business sector. Increasingly, investment in “intangible” forms of capital, such as research and development, patents, trademarks, business processes and employee training, is also becoming a key ingredient in business success. Both kinds of capital contribute directly to economic growth and job creation in the short term. And with time, the benefits of such investments are magnified. Expanding and improving the stock of capital means that employees have up-to-date machinery and equipment, modern facilities, more efficient infrastructure and better intellectual property products to work with, allowing them to become more productive (and, hopefully, to earn more). 

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Woodfibre LNG: Unlocking BC’s Natural Gas Assets

Statement from BCBC on the authorization of the Woodfibre LNG project

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Finlayson & Peacock: BC economic policy needs to cultivate more large companies (Business in Vancouver)

The Conference Board of Canada defines innovation as “the process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge to produce new or improved products, processes…or capabilities.” In our recent paper, “Innovation for Jobs and Productivity” (www.bcbc.com), the Business Council argues that innovation is the key to creating and sustaining more high-productivity, high-wage jobs in British Columbia.

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BCBC applauds PNW LNG Decision

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s approval of the $11.4 billion Pacific Northwest LNG processing plant by the Federal Government, which comes after a thorough environmental assessment process.

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Peacock Op-ed: B.C.'s Comparatively Good Economic Performance Should Not Foster Complacency (Surrey Business News)

The provincial economy is in good shape, supported by gains in parts of the export sector, impressive job growth, robust consumer spending and a booming housing market. In fact, B.C. is positioned to outpace all provinces in economic growth this year, and perhaps in 2017 as well. While this is an enviable position to be in, it should not breed complacency. Policy makers need to pay attention to competitiveness and step up efforts to make B.C. an attractive place for companies to invest and create well-paying jobs.

One reason for staying cautious is because B.C.’s ascent to the top of the provincial growth rankings is partly explained by the fact that Canada’s previous growth stars – Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland – have all been hit hard by the collapse in oil prices. Although B.C. is set to lead the country, we will do so with a very typical or average rate of economic growth compared to what the province has experienced over the past two decades.

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