Canada’s federal government is responsible for many policies that matter for BC’s business community, including taxation, immigration, innovation programs and employment insurance. The Council provides regular recommendations to the federal government to ensure that the nation’s top decision makers consider BC’s unique economic priorities.
An Overview of Canada’s Environmental Assessment Regime
As the Liberal government takes up the reins in Ottawa, it has signalled a shift in its approach to energy, environment and natural resource development, particularly in the context of resetting relations with Aboriginal peoples. As it sets out to review Canada’s EA processes, several key principles should be top of mind:
- The integrity of the regulatory process and institutions are best maintained when they are at arms-length from the political realm.
- A core purpose of a regulatory body is to evaluate technical matters in an impartial way, free from undue political or stakeholder influence.
- Regulatory reviews that set (and adhere to) timelines promote certainty for proponents and contribute to a favourable setting for investors.
Release: Business Council welcomes the conclusion of the Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiations
New opportunities for Canada's Gateway to the Asia Pacific
Vancouver, BC - British Columbia business leaders welcome the successful conclusion of the negotiations to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Canada and 11 other Asia-Pacific nations have been working toward a TPP agreement for more than two years.
“Given British Columbia’s position as the country’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific, we recognize the importance of ensuring that Canada is part of this landmark trade and investment agreement with countries that collectively are home to more than 800 million people and generate $28 trillion in annual economic activity,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia. “The Business Council believes the TPP will help the Canadian and the BC economies grow by removing tariffs and other barriers, enabling more of our export industries to build new business, and strengthening the position of Canadian companies in global supply chains encompassing commodities, manufactured goods, and tradable services.”
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.
Amid an Oil Price Collapse…The Harper Government Delivers on its Balanced Budget Promise
The steep drop in the price of oil and related impact on federal finances prompted the Conservative government to delay bringing down the Budget. But despite a $6 billion hit to Ottawa’s revenues, Finance Minister Joe Oliver was determined to meet the government’s commitment to balance the operating budget by fiscal 2015-16, after seven years of red ink. Doing so required adding some modest amounts from asset sales and shrinking the contingency reserve, but in the end the government managed to erase last year’s small deficit ($2 billion) and is forecasting a razor-thin $1.4 billion surplus for 2015-16.
Businesses and Public Policy in Canada…Apparently Smaller is Better
The latest federal budget confirms and reinforces a prevailing belief among Canadian policy-makers that it is better for enterprises to stay small instead of expanding their top lines, bottom lines and employee head count. Budget 2015 signals that the Conservative government plans to lower the federal small business income tax rate from 11% to 9% 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 that applies to income above the small business threshold ($500,000) – that rate remains at 15%.
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.
Canada’s Environment for Entrepreneurship Compares Favourably
Entrepreneurship is an important source of innovation, economic growth and job creation. As such, greater attention is being paid to the role of public policy in fostering entrepreneurial activity. Governments and international organizations are working to better understand and measure the factors that influence and support entrepreneurial activity. The Organization for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD), for example, has developed a framework – Indicators of Entrepreneurial Determinants – that outlines some of the different factors it has identified as influencing entrepreneurship. The framework provides international benchmarks for factors linked to business entrepreneurship. Recognizing the need to better understand and quantify entrepreneurship, Industry Canada has prepared a research series that applies the OECD framework to the Canadian context. The first in the Industry Canada series examines how Canada performs on two of the OECD’s six categories: Regulatory Framework and Market Conditions.
Statement from the Business Council of British Columbia on the passing of Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
The Business Council of British Columbia is saddened to learn of the death of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
“Mr. Flaherty was a dedicated public servant and man of character who gave of himself and his family to Canadians through public office, including over 8 years as the country’s Minister of Finance,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia. “He was a leader not only in Canada, but internationally among his counterparts, and his contributions to our country have ensured a more prosperous future for our country today and years to come.”
News Release: Business Council of British Columbia points to benefits of Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement
March 10, 2014 (Vancouver, BC) - The Business Council of British Columbia today welcomed the Government of Canada’s announcement that negotiations to establish a bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea have been successfully concluded.
“The federal government has worked long and hard to secure a free trade agreement with South Korea,” said Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia. “We applaud the Prime Minister, International Trade Minister Fast and his senior officials for their efforts to get this significant agreement over the finish line.”
A Snapshot of Government Debt Across the Land
The start of the 2014 government budget season is an opportune moment to update the figures on accumulated public sector debt for Canada’s ten provinces as well as the national government.
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.
Submission: Letter to Honourable James Moore re Telecommunications Policy
Correspondence sent on behalf of the Business Council's membership on a matter of national significance, and of considerable importance to British Columbia, pertaining to telecommunications policy, and specifically the regulatory framework for the sector which recently has been under review by Industry Canada.
Let's Tax the Rich - Oh, We Already Do
Last week’s budget offers a timely reminder of something that many Canadians may not realize: a surprisingly large proportion of federal government revenue comes from the personal income tax (PIT). The second biggest revenue source is the corporate income tax, followed by the GST. According to the budget, in the upcoming fiscal year Ottawa’s PIT revenue will reach $131.5 billion, which amounts to half of all of the money collected by the national government.
Who pays the personal income tax? Most Canadian households except those with quite low incomes generally pay something. But an examination of data recently released by the Canadian Revenue Agency indicates that the PIT burden falls mainly on the most affluent families. Consider the following summary statistics:
2013 Federal Budget: A Combination of Following Through, Fiscal Restraint and Some New Funding for Priority Areas
Against a backdrop of softer economic conditions, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled a budget still centered around achieving the Conservative government’s 2015-16 balanced budget target. To meet that objective, the Budget imposes meaningful but not draconian spending restraint. In turn, this left little capacity for much in the way of new spending or tax relief. The Budget does, however, direct additional funding to a few priority areas such as skills training and infrastructure investment.
Presentation: Federal Budget 2013 KPMG Breakfast
Economic outlook presentation by Jock Finlayson to the KMPG Federal Budget Breakfast, March 22, 2013
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Canada's Economic Immigration Program to be Transformed
The Conservative government is embarking on a major overhaul of Canada’s economic immigration program. The new approach will give employers a greatly elevated role in the immigration process and hopefully reduce lengthy delays that have long plagued the immigration system. If it runs as anticipated, the revamped program should help deliver skilled immigrants to sectors and regions of the country where they are needed – and do so faster.