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RELEASE: Business Council of BC welcomes Canada's balanced budget,
notes caution on the country's economic outlook

April 21, 2015 (Vancouver, BC) - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the Government of Canada's balanced budget which includes several new budget measures to support a diversified economy and to advance economic growth for the country.  The government deserves credit for moving steadily toward a balanced budget, although with a slim $1.4 billion surplus in 2015-2016, following the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and the current period of relative economic uncertainty. 

"The federal government has made significant progress in gradually reducing the size of the federal deficit, and, with the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of G-7 countries, the national public finances are in better shape than those of most other advanced economies," said Greg D'Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Business Council of British Columbia. "This prudent approach, combined with other national assets including a skilled and educated population and strategic infrastructure investments, positions Canada as a desirable destination for long-term international and business investment."   

“Further, budget measures to support manufacturing investment in machinery and equipment, infrastructure spending including transit, tax measures for LNG and other natural resource sectors such as forestry, mining, and agri-foods, and increased investment in research and skills training will support increased economic diversification in British Columbia,” added D’Avignon. 

The Council is cautious, however, on the immediate economic outlook for Canada, particularly in an environment of sluggish global growth, sharply lower oil prices and weakness in other commodity markets.  This has led to a significant decline in the nation's overall terms of trade, as the value of our exports has dropped relative to our imports.   

"Current indicators suggest the Canadian economy stalled in the first quarter of 2015, household debt is at an all-time high relative to income, and business investment remains very sluggish," notes Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia. "For 2015 as a whole, we expect Canada to post relatively feeble real GDP growth of under 2%, with some improvement likely in 2016, provided the US economy continues to gain momentum."  

Looking ahead, continued efforts in addressing skills shortages, improving education and training outcomes, and ensuring that immigration policy meets Canada’s labour market needs will all remain top priorities for the business community.  

"In the BC context, we recognize the government’s investments in First Nations education and health, and we continue to urge the government to accelerate efforts to work collaboratively with the BC government and First Nations to expand opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate in, and obtain benefits from, economic development and to strengthen the capacity of First Nations communities," said D'Avignon. 

For the Business Council's full assessment of the Government of Canada's 2015 Budget, available April 22, please visit bcbc.com

The Business Council of British Columbia, now in its 49th year as the premier business organization in British Columbia, is a non-partisan association made up of 260 leading companies, post-secondary institutions and organizations from across BC’s diverse economy, which collectively support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province. The Council provides timely and exceptional public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance BC’s competitiveness and prosperity.

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Media Contact:

Cheryl Maitland Muir
Business Council of British Columbia
cheryl.muir@bcbc.com 
604-812-5965