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News Releases and Op-Eds

D’Avignon: B.C. could be world leader in safe transportation of energy products (Vancouver Sun)

The West Coast Spill Response Study outlines issues that need to be addressed to prevent oil spills and ensure an effective, coordinated response should one occur in the future. Such spills could stem from B.C.-originated marine traffic or transitory traffic near our coast involving the shipment of oil or oil products from Alaska to the nearby centre of oil-refining complexes across Georgia Straight at Cherry Point in Washington state.

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British Columbia's leading business organizations issue final report of The BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity
Year long process delivers 60 recommendations on creating a more prosperous province for all British Columbians

September 25, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) – The Business Council of British Columbia and the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce today released the final report of the BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity initiative. For a year, the two organizations have sought expert and community-based answers to the question: “How can BC become a more prosperous province for all British Columbians?”

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Finlayson: Half of Greater Vancouverites will be foreign born by 2021 (Vancouver Sun)

The results of the 2011 census and the National Household Survey confirm what most people already know: The population is aging, with the front end of the baby boom generation having reached 65 in 2011.

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Finlayson: By 2021, half of all Greater Vancouverites likely foreign-born (Troy Media)

Statistics Canada has just started to release data drawn from its 2011 census and a major National Household Survey which the agency undertook at the same time. The results confirm what most people already know:

  • The population is aging, with the front-end of the baby boom generation having reached 65 in 2011;
  • Canadian society is urbanizing, as more of us are living in large and mid-sized cities;
  • There are more one-person households, reflecting high divorce rates as well as longer life spans, and;
  • The workforce and population are becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, as immigration continues to shape the nation’s demographic profile.

All of these national-level trends are evident in British Columbia.

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Release:
BUSINESS COUNCIL OF BC ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL BC BUSINESS SUMMIT
NOV 12-13
Annual forum an economic dialogue on BC’s prosperity

VANCOUVER, BC (Sept. 10, 2013) - With British Columbia and western Canada facing a wide range of economic opportunities and challenges that will determine future prosperity, the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) today announced the inaugural BC Business Summit. The Summit will bring together industry, governments, First Nations and other community leaders to explore pressing economic issues of competitiveness, trade, human capital, natural resource development, infrastructure and transportation.

The BC Business Summit: Building Prosperity through a Competitive Economy will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, November 12-13, and will feature a keynote address by Premier Christy Clark, who will be joined over the two days of the event by her cabinet colleagues, and an array of global CEOs and local business leaders who invest and create jobs in our province. The Summit will provide an annual venue to inform the fact base and focus discussion on our key issues and opportunities to improve BC’s prosperity. The conference format includes a series of key note presentations, breakout sessions, networking and panel discussions and a provincial Job Fair. In the coming days BCBC will be announcing exceptional speakers and panellists, senior business executives, government and First Nations leaders and community economic thought leaders participating in this first annual event.

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Finlayson: It's a mistake to ignore Japan (Troy Media)

Japan may be in a stronger financial position than some other nations with proportionately smaller government debt burdens

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Finlayson: BC needs to encourage small businesses to grow (Vancouver Sun)

Canada ranks as one of the best places in the world to start a new business, according to an annual survey done by the World Bank. But the country does less well in encouraging its enterprises to grow – and in generating private sector innovation.

The two phenomena are linked: an economic environment that nurtures and rewards business growth should also foster a high level of innovation, since growth-oriented companies are more likely to develop and to adopt innovative technologies and business practices.

In thinking about these issues, policy-makers would be wise to pay close attention to the outsized economic contributions made by the sub-group of rapidly-growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A 2010 study by the Kauffman Foundation estimated that the top-performing five per cent of all U.S. businesses – measured by their rates of employment growth – create two-thirds of all new jobs. And the top-performing one per cent account for a remarkable 40 per cent of net employment growth.

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D'Avignon Letter to the Editor: Mayor should embrace BC's resource industries
(Vancouver Sun)

Re: It’s not just bike lanes; city also improving economy, Letters, Aug. 2

Mayor Gregor Robertson seeks to grow our green economy and technology sectors, which we support. Technology represents an exciting growth opportunity for the region and future generations

However, the mayor ignores the role of natural resource industries as the underpinning of the economic well-being for the Lower Mainland and our province. By repeatedly attacking the coal industry, commodities sectors and the port, the mayor sends a message that the city’s economy doesn’t need natural resource or transportation industries.

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D'Avignon: Why we should keep an eye on BC's core services review
(Vancouver Sun)

There is nothing easy about governing in tough economic times, but it can provide the impetus to assess priorities, focus resources and think more innovatively about the provision of public services.

While governments typically have internal checks and balances to ensure new budget expenditures are done in a systematic manner through the Treasury Board, cabinet and a variety of budget development processes, in Canada more comprehensive reviews of existing expenditures have tended to be done on a more ad hoc basis.

Frequently, these ad hoc reviews have been linked to changes in government and a desire for new approaches that meld political and policy directions to re-shape government. However, in recent times many of these reviews have been driven less by ideology and more by fiscal and technological imperatives.

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Finlayson: BC's Carbon Tax Hurting Businesses (Vancouver Sun)

Carbon taxes have been attracting renewed attention. In late July Ottawa-based think-tank Sustainable Prosperity issued a report claiming that B.C.’s carbon tax has triggered a substantial and rapid-fire decline in fossil fuel consumption, leading to a sizable drop in provincial emissions of greenhouse gases.

Then a few days ago The Sun published an opinion piece from a local consulting firm suggesting that the average household in B.C. benefits financially from the carbon tax because of offsetting personal income tax relief measures introduced by the government.

Within North America, B.C. is certainly a pioneer in carbon pricing. Initially set at $10 per ton of emissions in 2008, the carbon tax rose to reach $30/ton in July 2012. The government has now frozen the tax for five years.

To date, no other province or state has instituted the type of broad carbon pricing regime found in B.C.

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News Release: YVR and the Business Council congratulate Larry Berg on Order of BC Appointment

Richmond, British Columbia (August 1, 2013): Larry Berg, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Airport Authority and former Chair of Business Council of British Columbia’s Board of Governors has been appointed to the Order of British Columbia. Larry was recognized for his outstanding leadership and vision that helped Vancouver International Airport (YVR) earn its reputation as one of the world’s top airports.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Temporary Foreign Workers: Facts and Fiction (Vancouver Sun)

Canada has a long tradition of attracting immigrants to become permanent residents.  Immigration in many ways built the country and did much to stimulate economic growth in the post-war era.  The context for international migration, however, is changing.  Greater international mobility, instant access to information from around the world, and growing cross-border flows of goods, services and knowledge have all made international migration a possibility for a rising share of the world’s population.  The result is an increase in the volume and types of movement of people between jurisdictions.  Today, this includes substantial numbers of “temporary” migrants who come to relatively affluent countries like Canada for work or education.

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Finlayson: Get Ready for an Underperforming Canadian Economy (Troy Media)

It’s hard to believe, but true: Canada and the United States are now entering the fifth year of economic recovery from the recession that hit both countries over 2008-09.

In the United States, the downturn first took hold in late 2007 and extended through the next 18 months. After enduring its worst slump in 50 years, the American economy officially stopped shrinking in June 2009. Since then, the U.S. has enjoyed 15 consecutive quarters of growth in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP), although the expansion has been sluggish by historical standards. Indeed, America’s economy has been growing at barely half the pace typical of previous recession-recovery cycles. Moreover, per capita GDP has yet to return to its 2007 level, and employment remains well below its pre-recession peak.

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Finlayson: Natural resource industries critical to BC's economic success (Troy Media)

British Columbia is a province with an increasingly urban-based population whose economic success has historically been tied to the efficient extraction, processing and exporting of commodities. In 2011, approximately four-fifths of B.C.’s international merchandise exports consisted of goods produced by the forestry, energy, mining and agri-food industries taken as a group.

This proportion is little changed from 10 years ago, and it is substantially higher than the share of resource-based goods in overall Canadian merchandise exports.

Today’s heavily urban population is poorly equipped to understand the realities of B.C.’s industrial and economic base. Elected officials, media commentators, and the province’s cultural and intellectual elites disproportionately hail from the comfy precincts of the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria. Yet urban British Columbia is not where the export wealth that does so much to underpin our standard of living is mainly generated.

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D'Avignon: Collaboration will address BC's competitive challenges so that we realize BC's full potential

Congratulations to Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals – British Columbians have voted for a strong, stable economy and have given Premier Clark and her team a solid mandate to govern.  The Business Council also extends our appreciation to all of the candidates who put their names forward and to all of the outgoing MLAs for their years of service to British Columbia.

Voters have delivered a clear message that their collective economic future, and that of their children, remains top concerns.  Despite the opportunity to opt for change, voters chose to continue with a party that represents policy stability and that has pledged to pursue the goals of job creation and sound fiscal management.   

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Finlayson: The Education Wage Premium (Troy Media)

The past two years have witnessed considerable public and media interest in the issue of inequality, as evidenced by the emergence of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the United States and its counterparts in several other countries.

Many studies confirm that income inequality has grown in many affluent nations. The trend is especially pronounced in the United States, where the richest 10 per cent of households have almost six times as much income as the bottom 10 per cent. The ratio is lower in Canada, but income disparities have widened here as well. And in many advanced economies a rising share of all income seems to be accruing to the top 1 per cent of earners.

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Finlayson: 5 reasons why a Canada/EU free trade agreement must be ratified (Troy Media)

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News Release: Business Council Calls for Renewed Focus on Competitiveness as BC Returns to PST

The province’s leading business organization today called for a renewed focus on competitiveness, as British Columbia re-establishes the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) following the decision to eliminate the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) regime.
“We accept the decision made to restore the PST,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “But policymakers and legislators need to understand that returning to the PST represents the single biggest tax increase on business in the province’s history – and will be a significant blow to BC’s competitiveness across a wide range of industry sectors in an increasingly competitive world.”

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News Release: Business Council Supports Plan to Balance Federal Budget and Focus on Skills Training

March 21, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) —The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s Federal Budget with its focus on skills training, infrastructure investment, and measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in BC and across the country.

“Today’s budget strikes the appropriate balance between fiscal stability and meeting the Federal government’s commitment to eliminate the deficit by mid-decade. We also endorse the new initiatives intended to expand access to skill training and apprenticeships,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “Balancing the budget in a timely manner is important to Canada’s competitive position. We believe that the government’s approach of protecting transfers to individuals and provinces, while looking for additional savings in its own operating expenses, makes sense.”

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Finlayson: Canada's job machine is robust (Vancouver Sun)

Canada’s jobs machine is chugging along nicely even as the nation’s economy appears to be losing a step. Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey reports that 51,000 jobs were created in February, far more than economic forecasters were anticipating.

On a six-month moving average basis, employment gains have been averaging 30,000 per month. The unemployment rate remained steady at seven per cent in February, as the number of labour force entrants offset the new positions created.

Drilling down into the data, private sector employment rose by 30,000 last month; since September 2012, Canadian businesses have been expanding their payrolls by 20,000 a month. By industry, job gains were concentrated in service-producing sectors, with professional, scientific and technical services and accommodation and foodservices emerging as notable hot spots. Manufacturing employment sagged and continues to trail the economy-wide job growth rate.

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