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News Releases and Op-Eds

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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Finlayson: How we cope with Metro Vancouver's Pricey housing (Vancouver Sun)

“How can people possibly afford to live in Vancouver?” That was the question posed to me by an economist friend from Ottawa, following the latest release of the Royal Bank of Canada’s housing affordability report which — once again — revealed that Metro Vancouver easily ranks as the most expensive place in the country to own a home.

The bank’s number-crunchers measure the proportion of “median” pre-tax household income required to service a mortgage and cover property tax and utility charges on a standard two-storey home, a standard detached bungalow, and a standard condominium, all at current market prices. Here, the term “standard” implies a typical residence of modest space and quality, rather than any type of luxury accommodation. It is further assumed that the homeowner contributes a 25-per-cent down payment and takes out a 25-year mortgage at a fixed five-year rate.

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Finlayson: Rethinking Canada's anti-big business tax policy (Troy Media)

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

The two phenomena are linked: an economic environment that supports business growth should also produce a high level of innovation, since growth-oriented companies are more likely to adopt innovative business strategies.

In thinking about these issues, Canadian policymakers would be wise to focus on the outsized economic contributions made by the sub-group of rapidly-growing small- and medium-sized enterprises. A 2010 study by the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship estimates that, in a typical year, the top-performing five per cent of American businesses – measured by their rates of employment growth – create two-thirds of all new jobs. And the top one per cent of firms are responsible for a remarkable 40 per cent of net new jobs.

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News Release:

BCBC Acknowledges Government’s Commitment to Fiscal Prudence in 2013 Budget
-Province must renew focus on competitiveness to attract investment and create jobs as priority in post-HST context-

The Business Council acknowledges the province’s disciplined management of expenditures in the years leading up to the 2013 Budget and as projected in the new three year plan, and endorses the government’s efforts to maintain fiscal responsibility through challenging economic times.

“BC’s current fiscal situation is comparatively good – better than most other provinces like Alberta and Ontario, where governments have been less successful in controlling spending growth,” said Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of British Columbia. “However, our support for this Budget is tempered by the government’s decision to hike taxes and fees in a number of areas. This is an inopportune time to be adding to the tax burden facing business and industry in British Columbia. We are concerned that this negative signal could become a trend. Further erosion of the province’s overall competiveness will have negative longer-term implications for jobs and the economy.”

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Finlayson: Greater Vancouver Regional Economic Policy Needed (Vancouver Sun)

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 human population. Canada has six metro areas big enough to rank in Brookings’ top 300 list: Toronto, Montreal, Greater Vancouver, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary and Edmonton.

The idea of the “global city” or “global city-region,” first coined by U.S. sociologist Saskia Sassen two decades ago, has been taken up by academic researchers, business analysts and policy-makers. In B.C., Greater Vancouver — consisting of more than 20 municipalities with a combined population that’s fast approaching 2.5 million — clearly fits the definition of a global city-region, even though few local residents or political leaders appear to think in these terms.

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Jock Finlayson: Canada can't count on getting much of an economic lift from "abroad" (Troy Media)

As Canadian consumers and businesses gear up for 2013, they should be anxiously watching developments in the United States, Europe and Asia. Canada’s prospects over the next 12 months depend heavily on how events unfold in these regions, which account for the lion’s share of international economic activity.

Europe: Collectively, the 17 nations that comprise the eurozone, with its common currency and single monetary policy, are in recession and remain vulnerable to further flare-ups of the banking and sovereign debt crises that have plagued the region for more than two years. The biggest risks lie in Greece, Spain and Italy, which are all dealing with contracting economies and persistent worries over government debt. The United Kingdom, which is not part of the common currency but has extensive commercial linkages with the eurozone, is struggling to avoid a triple-dip recession. Since Europe as a whole drives more than one-fifth of global consumption, economic conditions there matter to other nations, including Canada.

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News Release: Business Council Supports Government Announcement and Process to Sell Ridley Terminals Inc.

The Business Council of British Columbia, representing the province’s leading companies and institutions in every key sector of the provincial economy, today announced it’s support for the federal government’s decision to sell Ridley Terminals Inc.

“The Government of Canada’s announcement to sell Ridley Terminals Inc. represents the fulfillment of a commitment to divest Crown assets that can be more fully and effectively utilized in the private sector. The decision is good news for Canadian industry and should help to grow our economy going forward,” stated Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “We applaud the federal government for taking another in a series of recent steps to make Canada more competitive and to lay the foundations for future economic prosperity through global trade and investment.”

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Jock Finlayson: We need to watch spending by local governments (Vancouver Sun)

A cross Canada, municipal elected officials and their advocacy orga-nizations have been sounding alarm bells over a perceived inadequacy of resources to finance local government services and physical assets. Last month, for example, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) called on the federal government to provide billions of dollars to help close the "infrastructure deficit" that is said to plague many cities and towns.

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BCBC Statement regarding Canada's decision on foreign investment

The Business Council of British Columbia today welcomes the decision by the federal government in the purchasing processes involving Nexen Inc. and Progress Energy. While we will need to review the conditions in greater detail, we believe this decision sends a positive investment signal and balances the important need for capital investment with a net-benefit framework that advances the interests of all Canadians.

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Jock Finlayson: The centre of economic gravity is tilting (Vancouver Sun)

The rise of China and other emerging economies is having a profound impact on the international economic and political order established by a handful of Western countries at the close of the Second World War. Collectively, the emerging economies of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa will soon account for half of world production and consumption. They have also driven most of the growth in the global economy since the mid-2000s. One area where emerging economies are making a notable difference is the pattern of foreign direct investment (FDI). Long viewed solely as destinations for FDI by Western-based multinational companies, some emerging economies have become important sources of investment into the U.S. and other advanced country jurisdictions.

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Jock Finlayson: US Economy in the hands of its politicians - God help us all

With the seemingly never-ending U.S. election finally out of the way, it’s time to assess what the outcome may portend for the giant but underperforming $15 trillion American economy. President Barack Obama managed to eke out a second term, but he will continue to face stiff opposition in Congress. Moreover, Obama cannot be said to have secured a sweeping mandate. The country, like Congress, remains almost evenly divided between proponents and critics of “big government.” On economic policy, getting anything done – raising the debt ceiling, giving the President authority to negotiate trade agreements, inking an annual budget, and finding a fix for the U.S. government’s deep-seated fiscal problems – will require compromise and good will among the political class, commodities in short supply in Washington D.C. over the past few years.

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Advisory Council Announced for the BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity -
12 civic leaders from across British Columbia's social and economic sectors to guide process

October 11, 2012 (Vancouver, BC) - The Business Council of British Columbia and the BC Chamber of Commerce announced today that a group of 12 respected and civic-minded British Columbians have agreed to sit as members of an Advisory Council to the recently announced BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity. The Council will play an important oversight and commentary role within the BC Agenda initiative which aims to establish greater connectivity between the province’s economic developments and the interests and opportunities of British Columbians.

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Finlayson: Emerging markets the defining characteristic of our age

At a time of slowing global growth and considerable uncertainty about the economic outlook, it is easy to lose sight of the longer-term trends that are re-defining the international marketplace. The most far-reaching such trend is the rise of emerging markets in the world economy. Emerging economies include all of Africa and Latin America, and Asia apart from Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Most of the states that comprised the former Soviet Union are also classified as emerging economies, along with Turkey and the Middle East (except Israel). Emerging markets currently account for 45 per cent of world consumption – a proportion that continues to edge higher – and they have driven the lion’s share of global economic growth for the past decade. By 2030, upward of 60 per cent of total world-wide spending will be occurring in countries now labeled as emerging markets.

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Business Council of BC and BC Chamber of Commerce Launch New Policy Initiative: BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity

The BC Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of British Columbia have launched an innovative new policy initiative designed to take a fresh look at the economic and social development issues affecting the prosperity of British Columbians called the BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity.

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D'Avignon & Winter: BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity

Too often when British Columbians hear the term 'prosperity', the belief is that the rich are simply getting richer and the poor poorer. In fact, in a recent survey commissioned by the Business Council of British Columbia found 84% of British Columbians believed this to be true. While the reality may not be quite this stark, there is no question that many BC families have accumulated higher levels of debt and are under increasing financial pressure in their day-to-day lives. Why should BC businesses care about this widely held sentiment in BC?

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Finlayson: Metro Vancouver's Economic well-being needs work

Metro Vancouver scores well in international surveys that measure the quality of life in different urban centres. With a beautiful setting, temperate climate and many attractive amenities, the region has much to offer. But while it boasts an enviable lifestyle, Greater Vancouver’s economic performance is less stellar. Moreover, the region faces not just economic challenges but significant demographic pressures, with the population set to climb by more than one million by 2035. As more people cram into a small geographic area, there is the risk that long-standing problems around housing affordability, congestion and the provision of adequate transit services will intensify.

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