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.
BC Budget 2014 - Balanced and Uneventful
Operating within a very tight fiscal framework, Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled a budget on Tuesday that projects a small surplus for fiscal 2014-15, followed by larger surpluses in the two subsequent planning years. Given the limited fiscal maneuvering room, the Budget contained only a handful of modest spending measures and a few small tax initiatives. Notably, there was nothing major in the area of skills training.
While some commentators will be critical of the limited spending increases, we recognize the accomplishment of keeping the budget in the black without imposing significant tax increases – something few other provinces are managing to do. Running surpluses puts BC in a strong fiscal position, especially at this juncture of the business cycle. The Business Council believes BC’s competitive position has eroded in recent years. Although fiscal circumstances prevented the government from cutting or restructuring taxes, this is an area the province will have to address in the future as some BC industries face challenges linked to the province’s move back to the antiquated Provincial Sales Tax (PST), while others are grappling with the steepest carbon tax in North America, skilled labour shortages, onerous municipal property taxes on industry, and steadily escalating electricity costs.
News Release: Business Council applauds budget for providing sound fiscal framework - Global competitiveness requires greater focus on skills training, efficient regulatory processes and effective tax structures
February 18, 2014 (Victoria, BC) – The Business Council of British Columbia applauds today’s provincial budget in which the government delivered on the commitment to keep the operating budget balanced and to manage the overall provincial debt, preserving BC’s Triple A credit rating.
“As the province moves into surplus and focuses on realizing new economic opportunities, there will need to be definitive action taken to ensure both new development opportunities and ongoing business operations are more competitive,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “This focus on competitiveness will need to encompass infrastructure, human resources, regulatory systems and taxation policies that enable success in a highly competitive world.”
Presentation: Greg D'Avignon Keynote Presentation to the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
The world has become more competitive since 2008-09 and BC is competing with countries all around the world to attract investment capital. Mr. D’Avignon gave an overview of BC’s economic reality and discussed why we need to start working more collaboratively, more effectively, and more competitively if we’re going to maintain the kind of lifestyle we want. - See more at: http://www.nvchamber.ca/events/Past_Event_Recap/keynote-breakfast-with-greg-davignon-bc-business-council-president-ceo#sthash.KmdOtLo7.dpuf
Presentation: KPMG 2014 Federal Budget Presentation by Jock Finlayson
Jock Finlayson's annual post-Federal Budget presentation to KPMG and their clients.
Federal Budget 2014 -
Following Through: No Surprises Federal Budget Moves to Surplus
Getting back to surplus remains the cornerstone of federal budgeting. With the deficit having swelled to more than $55 billion in the aftermath of the 2008-09 Great Recession and Financial Crisis, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered a budget that has the government on the cusp of returning to the black. This is an admirable accomplishment, one achieved without any significant tax increases and involving a hefty dollop of restraint after spending had been ramped up during and after the recession.
Finlayson: Three external developments that could affect Canada's economy
For Canada, what happens beyond our borders is often more important to our economic prospects than what transpires at home. With that in mind, here are three things that Canadian forecasters and market analysts will be carefully tracking in 2014.
- U.S. monetary policy: the end of quantitative easing
- Europe returns to growth
- Japan struggles to revive its economic engine
BC Economy and Job Market to Gain Momentum Over 2014-2015
Against a more balanced and somewhat stronger global growth setting, BC’s economy should make progress in 2014, on the heels of a rather disappointing 2013. We expect the province’s real GDP to advance by 2.3% this year – solid, but not spectacular. By 2015, further improvements in the global economy and a substantial jump in capital spending in BC should push GDP growth above the 3% mark.
News Release: BC's Economy and Job Market to Gain Momentum over 2014-2015
Broadly-based gains across many segments support growth in 2014,
LNG and related activity to fuel stronger growth in 2015
The Business Council of British Columbia today released its semi-annual BC Economic Review and Outlook publication for 2014, noting that it expects economic conditions to improve over the next two years. This year, the Council forecasts that real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) in BC will increase by 2.3%, a notable improvement from the 2013’s estimated 1.4% expansion. In 2015, BC’s economy should accelerate further, with real GDP growing by more than 3%.
The Upside of a Lower Dollar for BC
In early May last year the Canadian dollar was trading near parity with the US dollar. Between May and mid-October it fluctuated between 99 and 96 US cents per Canadian dollar. In November the Loonie started on a more definitive downward trend and by early 2014 it had fallen sharply to about 91.5 US cents. This relatively rapid decline hurts Canadian residents inclined to shop in the US, snowbirds and residents vacationing south of the border. But on balance, the fall in the Loonie is good news for BC in an overall economic sense.
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.
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.
D'Avignon: YVR project Earns Environmental Assessment Certificate
It is crucial that capacity grows to meet trade and travel opportunities
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.