News Releases and Op-Eds
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
Woodfibre LNG: Unlocking BC’s Natural Gas Assets
Statement from BCBC on the authorization of the Woodfibre LNG project
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.
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.
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.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C.’s economic buffer in the energy downturn: real estate (Business in Vancouver)
BC’s economy looks to be in decent shape. The province led the country in economic growth last year and will likely do so again in 2016. In the U.S., just six of the 50 states exceeded B.C.’s 3% GDP growth rate in 2015.
So why is our province faring so well? One reason is that we don’t produce much oil and so have avoided the worst fallout from the worldwide oil price collapse. The weaker Canadian dollar has also helped. Non-resource manufacturing, high technology goods and services, agricultural products, tourism, and film and television production have all enjoyed hefty gains, in part because a feebler Canadian dollar makes them more competitive in the North American market. But other provinces also benefit from a cheaper currency.
In fact, much of B.C.’s recent success reflects the unusual strength of the domestic economy. And supported by record low mortgage rates and steady inflows of migrants and wealth from outside our borders, the residential housing complex has had a starring role in B.C.’s robust domestic economy, via new home construction, high levels of renovation spending and escalating home prices.
New Regional Effort Aims to Establish Cascadia Innovation Corridor
British Columbia and Washington leaders come together to strengthen collaboration, create cross-border opportunity
Business Council of BC and the BC Assembly of First Nations sign historic Memorandum of Understanding
British Columbia’s business and First Nations leadership have signed a landmark agreement to ensure all BC residents share in the prosperity generated by sustainable economic development. The Memorandum of Understanding between the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) will bring greater certainty for business to invest and operate and, of utmost importance, opportunity for First Nations to be full participants in the economic future of the province. It is believed to be the first agreement of its kind between a broad business organization and a provincial First Nations organization.
Finlayson Op-Ed: How Canada can put its economy back in gear (Troy Media & The Province Newspaper)
“Building an economy that works for the middle class” is the preferred mantra of the Trudeau government now ensconced in Ottawa. Rarely these days does one encounter a federal government news release that fails to tout the benefits of a thriving middle class. The term “middle class” itself, however, is never defined, making it difficult to know if progress is being made in delivering on what the government describes as its most important objective.
On at least some measures, the middle class in Canada actually looks to be doing reasonably well. Take incomes, for example. From 2010 to 2014, the total pre-tax income of the typical family – defined, statistically, as the “median” family consisting of two or more related persons – rose from $80,900 to $87,000, in constant 2014 dollars. This amounts to an increase (after inflation) of 7.5 per cent over four years – a decent gain.
RELEASE: BC can maintain climate leadership position while enhancing our economic competitiveness
The Business Council of British Columbia today released the following statement from Greg D’Avignon, president and chief executive officer and Jock Finlayson, executive vice president and chief policy officer, in response to the provincial government’s new Climate Leadership Plan:
“The Business Council of British Columbia acknowledges the government’s efforts to use science- supported data and to consult a broad spectrum of interests in developing its updated climate plan, with the goal of ensuring that BC remains a climate policy leader in North America.
Finlayson& Peacock Op-Ed: 15% property transfer tax should not apply to non-Canadians who move to Metro Vancouver for bona fide employment reasons (Business in Vancouver)
The way the government designed its property transfer tax scheme means that it will impose a stiff financial penalty on foreigners who locate here to take jobs.
The Lower Mainland’s frothy housing market continues to attract a great deal of media and political attention. In late July, the B.C. government responded to mounting public anxiety over soaring housing prices by instituting a 15% property transfer tax (PTT) on “foreign” purchases of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver. This measure predictably has raised the ire of the real estate industry, in part because it has captured, unfairly in our view, many in-process transactions that pre-date the effective date of the tax.
It is unclear whether the higher PTT will dampen housing demand. Initial evidence does point to some slowdown in the pace of real estate activity. The fact that foreigners have been responsible for at least 10% of all residential property purchases in the Vancouver region suggests that the new tax should have some effect.
Finlayson: Two reasons why average families in Vancouver can't afford housing (Troy Media)
Recent months have seen a politically charged debate over the causes and consequences of sky-high housing prices in Metro Vancouver. The pace of price increases has been unprecedented, particularly for detached homes, which in some parts of the region have more than doubled in value in five years.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Business input vital to immigration system’s economic success (Business in Vancouver)
There are currently 4.7 million people living in B.C. Over the past 20 years, our population has risen by 908,000. Back in 1995, the population was growing at an annual rate of 2.8%, based on strong net interprovincial migration, international migration, and a relatively high rate of natural increase (births minus deaths). Now, the population is increasing by 1% annually, which is higher than the Canadian average but slower than in decades past.
In the next 20 years, our population is projected to expand by 1.14 million. Natural population growth dwindles after 2015 and approaches zero by 2030. At that point, B.C.’s population will be rising solely due to net in-migration from other provinces and countries. Of the two sources of in-migrants, international immigration will have a bigger role in determining B.C.’s demographic and economic future. Thus, it is more important than ever that immigration policy is aligned with our economic needs. Unfortunately, based on some initial actions by the Justin Trudeau government, it appears that economic considerations will carry less weight in immigration decisions.