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Open letter to western premiers to attend the 2017 Western Governors’ Association meeting

Dear Premier Christy Clark, Premier Rachel Notley, Premier Brian Pallister and Premier Brad Wall:

The rules governing trade with, and access to, Canada’s first and third largest trading partners have come under attack – threatening two decades of growth and prosperity in western Canada.

For the citizens and businesses of western Canada, it is crucial that their governments, individually and collectively, take the lead to assure that unique western interests are represented in determining the future rules for trade in North America.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Canada's investment recession drags on (Troy Media)

While Canada’s economy continues to grind out positive if unspectacular gains in employment and gross domestic product (GDP), below the surface the picture is less encouraging.

For several years, our economy has basically been kept afloat by free­spending consumers and overheated real estate markets. Throughout this period, export growth has been meagre and investment outside of the housing sector has been missing in action.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Metro Vancouver needs a cohesive economic development plan (Business in Vancouver)

In today’s global economy, the competition for talent, investment and high-value business activity increasingly is playing out at the metropolitan level. According to the Brookings Institution’s Global Metro Monitor, the 300 biggest cities account for almost half of world production and consumption, despite being home to only one-fifth of the population. Canada has six metro areas big enough to rank in Brookings’ top-300 list: Toronto, Montreal, Greater Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary and Edmonton.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: The election and B.C.'s export economy (Vancouver Sun)

So far, the provincial election campaign has focused on issues such as housing, jobs, health care, education, social services and transportation.  These all matter to voters, of course, but several other topics that have received little attention to date are also important in shaping B.C.’s long-term economic prosperity. One is export competitiveness. 

In a small jurisdiction like B.C., the ability to raise real incomes over time depends in large part on whether we can increase exports and stimulate the growth of export-capable industries. Successful export industries produce many benefits, including furnishing the income that allows us to pay for imports. Most export industries also offer above-average wages and salaries. 

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Income tax rates: Canada’s growing competitive disadvantage (Business in Vancouver)

Among all advanced economies, Canada imposes one of the heaviest income tax burdens on highly skilled people

The federal budget presented last month offered a timely reminder of something that many Canadians might not realize: a huge slice of Ottawa’s revenue comes from a single source, the personal income tax (PIT). Federal PIT revenue is projected to reach $152 billion in 2017-18, which is half of all of the money hoovered up by the national government. PIT is also the No. 1 revenue source for the provinces, although it makes up a significantly smaller portion of their tax base than of Ottawa’s.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Canada's over-hyped clean-tech revolution (Troy Media)

Across Canada, politicians have become bedazzled by the potential of the “clean tech” sector to drive economic growth.  The 2017 federal budget earmarks more than $2.2 billion in new spending to boost the industry, with a particular focus on accelerating the commercialization of products and technologies that promise to lessen the environmental impact of energy and water use, transportation, and other industrial activities. 

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. needs to do a better job of attracting high-skill immigrants (Business in Vancouver)

Immigration continues to reshape the demographic landscape in British Columbia.

Every year, between 35,000 and 40,000 new immigrants arrive in the province. Currently, more than one-quarter of the province’s population is foreign-born. Most immigrants settle in urban centres, so 41% of Metro Vancouver’s residents were born in another country. Given relatively low birth rates and the aging of the population, these proportions are expected to rise over the coming decades.

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RELEASE: Budget 2017 Offers Opportunities for Innovation, But BCBC Cautious on Canada's Overall Competitiveness

Today's federal budget, delivered at a time of significant global uncertainty, abrupt shifts in markets, and accelerating technological change, offers new opportunities for innovation and emerging sectors. However, the Business Council of British Columbia remains cautious on the implications of the continued federal deficit and questions whether enough is being done to strengthen Canada's competitiveness.

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An innovative ‘meeting place’ between the BC business community and First Nations leadership launches to support economic reconciliation in BC

The Champions Table, an initiative resulting from the commitments made between the B.C Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) in their Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 6, 2016, held their inaugural meeting on March 8th, 2017. The Champions Table establishes a formal ongoing dialogue where leaders can come together to explore opportunities, discuss barriers and work jointly to develop and advance a more effective approach to economic development based on reconciliation with First Nations.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Growing more large companies should be a key policy goal for B.C. (Troy Media, Exchange Magazine & Castanet)

The B.C. government recently published its annual “small business profile,” a document that highlights the role and impact of the small business sector in our economy.  The table below summarizes the distribution of B.C. businesses by size category.  Of 396,000 enterprises, more than half are one-person operations with no paid employees. Another 109,500 have between 1-4 staff.  Just 7,700 have 50 or more employees.  And perhaps 1,500-1,750 of these have surpassed the 100 employee threshold. 

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Peacock Op-Ed: Municipal Spending Increases (Surrey Business News)

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 Metro Vancouver, a region that is home to 2.5 million people, it is not surprising that local governments must earmark sizable sums to supply these services. Added together, the 21 municipalities that comprise 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.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: A closer look at the 2017 BC Budget (Business in Vancouver)

Parsing the details of the Liberal government’s 2017 budget offers a number of insights into British Columbia’s $270 billion economy. The first and most significant is the advantage conferred by economic and industrial diversification.

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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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