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Economy

As trusted economists and policy advisors to business and government leaders, the Council relies on sound, evidence-based analysis to inform its policy recommendations. Through diligent tracking of BC’s economic performance, we help identify the opportunities and challenges the province must navigate in order to reach its full potential.

 

Finlayson: Thank exports for any improvement in Canada's economic performance in 2014 (Troy Media)

After a generally lacklustre 2013, what are the prospects for Canada's economy in the coming year? As 2014 gets under way, the signs are mixed.  

In the plus column are accelerating U.S. economic growth, continued low interest rates, and the positive impact of the weaker Loonie on Canada's trade position and competitiveness.  Among the factors likely to hold our economy back in the year ahead are sluggish global commodity markets, record high Canadian household debt, government fiscal austerity at both the federal and provincial levels, and a slowdown in residential spending. 

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News Release: Business Council of BC releases Top Economic Questions for 2014 with Council Predictions

 December 30, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) – On the eve of a New Year, the Business Council of British Columbia has released its Top 10 Economic Questions for 2014, including predictions from the Council’s senior leadership and policy team.  The questions and answers highlight the pressing issues facing the province and will help shape BC’s economic fortunes for the coming year. 

 While the Business Council predicts a respectable 2.4% GDP growth for the province in 2014, up from the estimated 1.5% GDP growth for 2013, there are many factors at play in the BC economy which will impact British Columbia’s job and investment climate. 

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D'Avignon: YVR project Earns Environmental Assessment Certificate
It is crucial that capacity grows to meet trade and travel opportunities
(Vancouver Sun)

The B.C. government recently approved the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project and granted its Environmental Assessment Certificate. This is an important milestone and something we support specifically on its merits, but just as importantly for the signal this sends to investors that seek to do business and create jobs in B.C. The message underlying this project and this decision is that B.C. is open for investment and the province can get projects approved on their environmental, social and economic merits. This includes robust review and engagement, within reasonable time frames that are crucial to economic and investor certainty.

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News Release: Business Council Condemns Apparent Attack and Violent Protest at Port Metro

December 18, 2013 (Vancouver, BC) – The Business Council of British Columbia is asking elected leaders, environmental, business and other organizations along with all British Columbians who embrace rigorous, informed and respectful debate on economic development to condemn the activists who allegedly attacked innocent staff and damaged property at Port Metro operations and offices this week.

“We are privileged to live in a democracy which functions through the rule of law, supports a prosperous quality of life that is the envy of the world and provides transparent processes which encourage informed, rigorous and open debate,” said Greg D'Avignon,  President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.   “We fully expect that in a civil society, based on Canadian values, the police will aggressively investigate and seek appropriate charges and that the alleged perpetrators of this unacceptable attack will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

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Signs of Life: Retail Spending in BC Gaining Some Strength

After more than a year of moving sideways, retail spending in BC is finally showing some signs of strengthening.

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What Does BC’s Triple A Credit Rating Have To Do With Dim Sum?

In a world that is riddled with debt-laden governments, BC’s comparatively low debt-to-GDP ratio and coveted triple A credit rating are increasingly being viewed as strategic advantages that can help to promote the province from a fiscal and investment perspective.

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The Location of Corporate Headquarters in a Shifting Global Business Landscape

Emerging economies now account for roughly half of world economic output (measured using purchasing-power-parity exchange rates), and their share is projected to continue growing over the next several years and beyond. As they loom larger in global markets, emerging economies are also becoming more important as centers for all kinds of businesses, including the major multinational enterprises (MNEs) that traditionally have been concentrated in a handful of mature Western economies.

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Policy Perspectives:
The Economic Benefits of Encouraging Small Businesses to Grow

The role of small businesses necessarily features prominently in any discussion of the British Columbia economy. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that an orientation toward small businesses is a defining characteristic of the province’s private sector.

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Finlayson: Vancouver not an island, economically speaking (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson shared his thoughts on the future of the city's economy in an address to the Vancouver Board of Trade on Oct. 16. The mayor got it partly right. He provided an update on recent economic and business developments in the city, particularly in the high-technology sector, and he emphasized the goal of making Vancouver a recognized leader in innovation.

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HST Era Food Services Receipts Rose and Fell, But Stronger Growth has Followed the Return to PST

BC reverted back the PST system on April 1st of this year.  It is still too early to determine what specific impacts this important change in tax policy will have on BC’s economy.  Economists and public finance scholars are virtually unanimous in believing that shifting back to the PST will have negative long-term consequences in key areas such as business investment, productivity and the growth of real wages.  However, the picture is a bit less clear from a shorter-term perspective.

One sector where the return to the PST may have a favourable near-term impact is the food services industry.  This is because the HST raised the tax-inclusive price of meals purchased from food services establishments, whereas restaurant meals are not subject to the PST – meaning the retail price is lower for consumers.  While it is still early, data on restaurant sales receipts are available through July of this year, providing a full quarter of sales figures under the reinstated PST.  The graph below shows the total value of all food services receipts in BC (full service and limited service food establishments, drinking places and special food services such as caterers).  The data are seasonally adjusted to better show short-term changes and trends.

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New study finds British Columbia's corporate community contributes $370 million annually to the province's charities

Today, the Business Council of British Columbia released a first-of-its-kind study conducted by MNP which found that British Columbia’s business community contributes approximately $370 million in cash donations, sponsorships and partnerships to community and charitable organizations across the province each year. This is the first comprehensive study on the current levels of overall charitable contributions and partnership made by BC businesses in the province.

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BCBC study conducted by MNP finds corporate community contributes $370 million annually to the province's charities

Ono October 18th, the Business Council of British Columbia released a first-of-its-kind study conducted by MNP which found that British Columbia’s business community contributes approximately $370 million in cash donations, sponsorships and partnerships to community and charitable organizations across the province each year. This is the first comprehensive study on the current levels of overall charitable contributions and partnership made by BC businesses in the province.

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Submission: Business Council Pre-Budget Submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance, Province of BC

The Business Council of British Columbia is pleased to provide this submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, outlining our views and advice on the 2014 provincial budget to be presented next February.

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BC Agenda For Shared Prosperity Final Report

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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British Columbia's Resource Sectors are the Foundation of a Diversified Economy

A review of BC Business Magazine’s Top 100 list of British Columbia companies by revenue for 2012 reveals the province’s economic mosaic, showcasing diverse organizations such as Telus, HSBC Bank Canada and Finning International. It also reveals the extent to which the foundation for British Columbia’s economic prosperity is our natural resource sector. More than 20 of the top 50 private sector companies are directly involved in mining, forestry or natural gas, and there are dozens more throughout the list which act as service providers to these core industrial sectors.

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Productivity: BC's Position and Why We Should Care

Over the long term, productivity levels and growth rates are the most important factors determining the evolution of the standard of living in any economy. In more productive economies workers typically receive higher wages and governments have more resources available to pay for services.

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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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Working Age People Drive Inter-provincial Migration

After many years of a net inflow of people from other parts of Canada, BC is now in a period of net interprovincial outmigration. As the graph below depicts, net migration tends to cycle up and down, largely reflecting relative economic strength and job opportunities. This is the fourth period of negative interprovincial migration BC has experienced since 1970.

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New Census and National Household Survey Highlight Key Demographic Trends in BC

Statistics Canada has 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; Canada’s society is urbanizing, as more of us are living in large and mid-sized cities; there are more one-person households, reflecting the high incidence of divorce as well as longer life spans; and the workforce and population are becoming more multi-ethnic, as immigration continues to shape the nation’s demographic profile.

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

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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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