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Federal Government

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.

Post-Budget Economic Overview

Jock Finlayson presents a look at the global, national and BC economies in the context of the March 22nd federal budget.

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RELEASE:
Modest plans for economic growth supported by significant increases in spending
Council urges government to keep an eye towards Canada’s long term fiscal health

Vancouver, BC – March 22, 2016 – The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s federal budget, which provides a modest boost to a sluggish Canadian economy and signals a renewed focus on stimulating innovation and infrastructure investments. 

With the government’s decision to run deficits over the foreseeable future leading to a significant increase in debt, fostering an environment for sustained economic growth is essential to ensure the debt is kept manageable relative to the size of the economy.  The Business Council believes the government should aim to keep the debt/GDP ratio on a downward track over the course of the updated fiscal plan outlined in Budget 2016.

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RELEASE: BCBC welcomes new Advisory Council on Economic Growth

p style="text-align: left;" align="center">Vancouver, BC – March 18, 2016 - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the Government of Canada’s new Advisory Council on Economic Growth and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to a sustainable growth strategy for Canada’s economy. 

In today’s environment of sluggish global growth and a widespread and significant downturn in commodity markets, Canada is facing long-term economic and fiscal challenges stemming from an aging population, lagging productivity and declining private sector capital investment.  The Business Council remains focused on addressing the erosion of Canadian competitiveness and applauds today’s announcement by the government as a positive step to advance those efforts.   

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Priorities for the 2016 Federal Budget

Business Council priorities for the 2016 Federal Budget.

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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.

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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.” 

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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. 

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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.

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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%.

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Presentation: Federal Budget 2013 KPMG Breakfast

Economic outlook presentation by Jock Finlayson to the KMPG Federal Budget Breakfast, March 22, 2013

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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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