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News Releases and Op-Eds

Finlayson Op-Ed: Planning Ahead for Ongoing Change? (PeopleTalk Magazine)

Most people are aware that the population in Canada and other western countries is aging, that longevity is increasing, and that the front-end of the large baby boom generation has started to retire.  Fertility rates have also fallen, which means the future supply of workers will be under additional downward pressure even as the ranks of seniors swell.  But how quickly will our population grow, and age, in the next 20 years? Will employers soon face a dramatic shortfall of working-age British Columbians?

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Finlayson Op-Ed: BC economy will soon hit $250 billion (Troy Media and Business in Vancouver)

A steadily expanding population and ongoing modest economic growth are combining to propel the value of both spending and production in British Columbia to ever higher levels. As a result, we are on the cusp of a significant milestone: by the end of this year or early in 2016, the value of all measured spending and production in B.C. will reach one-quarter of a trillion dollars ($250 billion).

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D'Avignon Op-Ed: Great News for British Columbia

Remember June 11and 12, 2015. We will look back on this 24 hour period years from now as a point in which B.C. started to see a material change to its economy. Specifically, it was when some $44 billion worth of investment decisions were made in two separate projects that will strengthen B.C. as a significant player in two global sectors: energy and shipbuilding.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Canada flirting with recession (Troy Media, Business in Vancouver)

The latest economic growth report from Statistics Canada casts a cloud over the country’s economic outlook for 2015.  Real gross domestic product (GDP) fell at a 0.6 per cent annualized rate in the first three months of the year, considerably worse than even forecasters of a pessimistic bent were expecting.  Digging into the details, it is clear that the slump in global oil prices is taking a measurable toll on Canada’s energy-centric economy. 

Non-residential investment plunged by 15 per cent in Q1, led by sharp cuts in capital-spending by the oil and gas industry.  In recent years, the energy sector has accounted for more than one-third of all non-residential investment, as well as for roughly one quarter of Canada’s merchandise exports.  So the epic downturn in oil and natural gas markets is dampening overall private sector capital outlays and weighing heavily on Canada’s export receipts.  

Harsh winter weather also played a role in the gloomy Q1 report -- consumer spending came in below consensus, as many Canadians apparently decided to stay indoors.

Economists define a “recession” as two consecutive quarters of declining real GDP.  We are half way there, and some recent economic data signal further softness into the second quarter. 

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Tax policies discourage small business from getting bigger (Troy Media)

The latest federal budget confirms and reinforces what seems to be an enduring belief among many Canadian policy-makers that it is better for enterprises to stay small than to build up their top lines, bottom lines and employee head counts.  According to Budget 2015, the Conservative government plans to lower the federal small business income tax rate from 11 per cent to 9 per cent by 2019.  The rate reductions will come in four half-point steps, starting in January 2016.  There is to be no change in the general federal corporate tax rate on income above the small business threshold level ($500,000) – that rate remains at 15 per cent.

All of the provinces follow the same general approach as Ottawa, by setting their small business tax rates below the rates charged to medium-sized and larger firms.  British Columbia, to take one example, presently levies a 2.5 per cent small business tax, while imposing an 11.0 per cent tax on earned income above the threshold amount.  The net result is summarized in the accompanying table: the combined federal/B.C. tax rate on small business income is currently about half of the rate on other income, with the gap set to widen over the next few years. 

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Workers’ bargaining power to rise as labour shortages proliferate (Business in Vancouver)

The critical role of skills in a modern economy and the fact that many employers continue to report difficulties in finding qualified personnel raise questions about the future supply of workers.  A number of business leaders have voiced alarm about current and/or potential labour shortfalls. Some worry that the overall economy could be de-railed by widespread shortages of workers.

In thinking about this topic, it is useful to begin by considering the larger economic picture and the lessons from past experience.  Concerns about labour shortages are not new, tending to wax and wane with the state of the economy.  Temporary labour supply-demand imbalances in particular occupations, regions, or industries are not uncommon.  But as an empirical matter, serious and persistent shortages of workers have been rare in Canada.  The reason is that the emergence of imbalances in parts of the labour market typically leads to institutional, behavioral and policy responses that, over time, serve to eliminate or mitigate the effects of shortfalls in the supply of workers.

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

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.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: The Sobering Reality Behind Business Incentives (Troy Media)

Recent news stories from both sides of the Canada-U.S. border highlight the growing role of business incentives and “subsidies” in shaping the climate for corporate location and expansion decisions. 

The big three U.S. automobile producers are in the midst of downgrading their presence in Ontario as they build new plants in various American states as well as Mexico. Asian and European automobile producers are also stepping up capital spending in the U.S. and Mexico.    

One of the factors behind this trend is the rich incentive packages provided by U.S. state and local governments keen to secure auto-related manufacturing plants and jobs.  While Ontario and the Canadian government have also been prepared to spend taxpayers’ money to lure automobile investment, so far they have been unwilling to match the stupendous sums on offer in states such as Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Michigan.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Post-secondary education still the ticket to better jobs (Troy Media)

It is almost one year since the B.C. government unveiled details of its plan to re-engineer the post-secondary education (PSE) and training system. The Liberal government’s “Skills for Jobs Blueprint” will see additional funding directed to expand capacity to educate/train people in high-demand occupations – and fewer dollars available for programs in other parts of the system. An important factor behind the revamp is a belief among policy-makers that the “supply” of and “demand” for skills are out of alignment in the contemporary labour market.

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Statement: Business Council supports new minimum wage policy

“The Business Council supports the government’s decision today to implement a modest increase of the statutory minimum wage of $0.20 to $10.45 and to index future increases to the consumer price index as the Council has previously advocated,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia.

“This brings British Columbia’s minimum wage policy in line with most other jurisdictions in Canada and provides a fair and predictable approach to future increases that businesses can plan around.

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Whitworth Op-Ed: Liquefied Natural Gas is a Generational Opportunity (Vancouver Sun)

The debate about the future of liquefied natural gas in British Columbia is generating plenty of heat, but often too little light. A casual observer can be forgiven if he or she is just a bit confused about whether LNG will come to B.C.

Strip away the rhetoric, however, and a truth remains: In a growing world economy hungry for cleaner forms of energy, the market for B.C.’s natural gas remains strong.

As CEO of Seaspan ULC and chair of the British Columbia Business Council, I think it is important we remember this when considering LNG’s potential to shape our province for the better.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Too little investment puts BC economy at risk (Troy Media)

Economists have long worried about Canada’s sluggish productivity growth and the seemingly ever-widening gap with the United States on this key indicator of economic well-being.  It is widely recognized that the problem stems in large part from relatively low levels of investment in Canada, particularly in certain types of assets that are strongly associated with productivity improvements in modern economies – machinery, plant, equipment, software, and digital and other advanced and process technologies.  

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Release: Budget 2015 Reflects Sound Fiscal Management and the Benefits of a Diverse Economy

The Business Council of British Columbia applauds today’s provincial budget, which features another three years of operating surpluses and a plan to reduce the province’s net debt measured relative to the size of the economy (GDP). Budget 2015 is built around prudent economic and revenue growth projections and includes a handful of modest, but well-targeted, spending increases. 

“We support the government’s budget plan and acknowledge its steady stewardship of the province’s finances,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council. “The government is focusing most of the proposed spending increases on health care and education while containing expenditure growth in most other areas.”

“We believe, however, that overtime it will be necessary to refocus efforts on strengthening BC’s competitive position through increased investments in infrastructure, further streamlining of regulatory processes, and the refinement of current tax policies to spur business investment and innovation,” added D’Avignon.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Economic prospects bright for BC (Vancouver Sun)

As Finance Minister Mike de Jong gets ready to table his 2015 budget, the incoming economic data paint a mixed picture.  Projections for global growth have been marked down by the International Monetary Fund and other leading forecasting agencies.  The Eurozone hovers on the brink of recession, China’s once frenetic economy is slowing, and the prices of many internationally traded commodities remain in the doldrums.   

Canada has also lost a step, with real gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking in November and the job market seeming to run out steam as 2014 progressed.  Last month’s decision by the Bank of Canada to trim its trend-setting overnight lending rate by 25 basis points signalled policymakers’ worries about the state of the national economy.  

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Release: Strengthening Asian Investment in British Columbia

Today, the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry and Minister Responsible for British Columbia, joined by the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, the Honourable Teresa Wat, B.C. Minister of International Trade, as well as the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) announced a new project to attract Asian head offices to Vancouver. This project, entitled HQ Vancouver, will build on Canada’s competitive advantages in key sectors and attract major Asian firms to set up their North American head offices in British Columbia.

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Finlayson: Canada looks set for another year of modest economic growth (Troy Media)

The early weeks of 2015 have been a reminder that we live in a turbulent and risk-prone world. From plummeting oil prices to terrorist attacks in France, jittery stock markets, slowing growth in China, and renewed political uncertainty in Greece, there has been much to capture the attention of those inclined to fret about the future. But the underlying economic picture is more favourable than a glance at the newspaper headlines may suggest.

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Finlayson Op-ed: Income inequality not a problem in Canada (Vancouver Sun, Troy Media)

Canada has long been known as a country that promotes the values of equity and fairness within our society. That helps to explain why the issue of economic inequality resonates with the media and among many of our political leaders. With a federal election expected sometime in 2015, inequality is sure to get more attention in the months ahead.

Globally, concerns over inequality are also on the rise. A recent article in The Economist magazine noted that 56 per cent of citizens in the advanced countries believe inequality is a problem. On most indicators, income inequality has indeed increased within most industrial countries, although it has diminished at the global level owing to a long stretch of relatively strong economic growth in China and many other emerging markets.

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Finlayson: Low Interest Rates make this a great time to invest in infrastructure
(Troy Media)

Ottawa has the fiscal room to invest in infrastructure projects

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Second annual survey shows strong partnerships and $373 million in charitable contributions by British Columbia’s business community

Today, the Business Council of British Columbia released the second annual study quantifying the charitable contributions made by the province’s business community, conducted by MNP LLP. The report, Prosperous Companies, Prosperous Communities found that in 2013 British Columbia businesses donated $373 million in cash donations, sponsorships and partnerships to the province’s charities with the top types of charities supported being social services, health, education and environment.

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Finlayson: The Bank of Canada: An Overview (CPA Industry Update)

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