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Provincial Government

BC’s provincial government has a key role to play in shaping the province’s economy. Taxation, access to natural resources, transportation, education and skills development, environmental regulation, labour rules and many other social programs all fall under the provincial government’s jurisdiction. The Council conducts research and analysis on all these topics and regularly contributes to public-policy development at the provincial level.

 

BC Election Series: Post-Secondary Education and Innovation in the Party Platforms

Providing the next generation with opportunities to acquire the right skills contributes to stronger economic and productivity growth and should be a top-of-mind goal for incoming decision-makers. All three parties contesting the May 9 election have made promises regarding post-secondary education and innovation.

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BC Election Series: Housing Affordability, Supply and Related Tax Policy Issues

Real estate, home prices, rental units and affordability figure prominently in all three party platforms. Each party has developed a substantial narrative around housing/housing affordability, with each platform proposing several housing-related policy measures or new/revised programs.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: The election and B.C.'s export economy (Vancouver Sun)

So far, the provincial election campaign has focused on issues such as housing, jobs, health care, education, social services and transportation.  These all matter to voters, of course, but several other topics that have received little attention to date are also important in shaping B.C.’s long-term economic prosperity. One is export competitiveness. 

In a small jurisdiction like B.C., the ability to raise real incomes over time depends in large part on whether we can increase exports and stimulate the growth of export-capable industries. Successful export industries produce many benefits, including furnishing the income that allows us to pay for imports. Most export industries also offer above-average wages and salaries. 

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Summary of 2017 BC Political Party Platforms

A summary and comparison of the 2017 platform proposals of the BC Liberal Party, the BC New Democratic Party and the BC Green Party in advance of the upcoming election.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. needs to do a better job of attracting high-skill immigrants (Business in Vancouver)

Immigration continues to reshape the demographic landscape in British Columbia.

Every year, between 35,000 and 40,000 new immigrants arrive in the province. Currently, more than one-quarter of the province’s population is foreign-born. Most immigrants settle in urban centres, so 41% of Metro Vancouver’s residents were born in another country. Given relatively low birth rates and the aging of the population, these proportions are expected to rise over the coming decades.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: A closer look at the 2017 BC Budget (Business in Vancouver)

Parsing the details of the Liberal government’s 2017 budget offers a number of insights into British Columbia’s $270 billion economy. The first and most significant is the advantage conferred by economic and industrial diversification.

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BC Budget 2017 Analysis

Budget 2017 is a good news budget. While it falls shy of being a “something-for-everyone” document, it does announce some useful tax/premium reductions along with increased spending in a number of high priority areas. It also extends the province’s track record of sound fiscal management. Apart from the risk stemming from the high debt load of certain Crown corporations, Tuesday’s budget reinforces BC’s top notch credit rating.

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NEWS RELEASE: Budget 2017 Moves Toward Improved Business Competitiveness While Still Balancing the Books

Victoria - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s provincial budget, which managed to find room for tax relief while maintaining the government’s commitment to balance the budget.  This is a noteworthy accomplishment at a time of global uncertainty and when most other provinces continue to face budgetary shortfalls.  Keeping the books balanced reaffirms the government’s commitment to prudent fiscal management, and provides BC with some policy flexibility going forward. 

“Delivering a balanced budget within a climate of modest economic growth and a mixed outlook for commodities sets BC apart and signals that the province is a stable place to invest and do business,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of British Columbia.  “We congratulate Minister de Jong and his cabinet colleagues for their continued focus on disciplined expenditure management.”

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BC2035

BC2035 is about creating a shared vision of BC’s future and laying down a pathway to realize that vision. It is about initiating conversations, fostering greater collaboration and getting politicians, policy makers, First Nations leaders, and business leaders to think about, prepare for and act on the future.

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D’Avignon & Graham Op-Ed: A Fresh Look at the Role of Natural Resource Sectors in BC's Economy (The Vancouver Sun)

As leaders from government, industry, and First Nations communities gather again in Prince George for the 14th Annual Natural Resources Forum, it is worth taking a fresh look at the important role natural resource sectors play in British Columbia’s economy, today and into the future.

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RELEASE: BCBC Welcomes Provincial Government Approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes today’s decision by the province to grant an environmental assessment certificate, with conditions, to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and to confirm that this project has met the government’s five conditions. This is an important step in advancing a nationally significant project that will deliver benefits to British Columbia communities and workers while meeting growing global demand for oil.

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NEWS RELEASE: Business Council of BC Welcomes Report by Commission on Tax Competitiveness

The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the report issued today by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness that was appointed several months ago to examine the structure and impact of business taxes and to provide policy options that will support growth and job creation in BC.

At a time of sluggish global economic growth, heightened competitive pressure for small regional economies, and accelerating technological change, it makes sense to review the role of tax policy in shaping the environment for business activity.  Particularly for trade-dependent jurisdictions like British Columbia, a broadly competitive tax system is essential if we are to attract the investment and stimulate the entrepreneurial wealth creation needed to sustain jobs and grow incomes. 

“The Commission on Tax Competitiveness’s report outlines a number of valuable recommendations for the provincial government to consider, including some that we hope will be taken up in the February 2017 budget, and others that can be acted on over the medium-term,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia.  “The Business Council commends the provincial government for establishing the Commission.  We look forward to the province acting on the Commissions’ recommendations to strengthen the foundations for BC’s economic prosperity.”

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Peacock Op-Ed: Looking to B.C. Budget 2017 — Strengthening B.C.’s Competitive Position (Surrey Business News)

B.C.’s economy is in reasonably good shape and the province looks to be on track to lead the country in economic and job growth this year and likely next year as well. This relatively buoyant economic backdrop is boosting B.C. government revenues and providing the province with some fiscal room. The recently released First Quarterly Report shows the B.C .government with a $2 billion surplus in 2016-17, thanks mostly to upside revenue surprises from personal income taxes and the property transfer tax.

While all this is good news, the fact is that British Columbia’s competitiveness within North America has eroded over the past several years. The extent of the problem varies across sectors and industries. But companies operating on the land base, manufacturers, and industries that rely significantly on energy to run their operations face mounting difficulties stemming from complex First Nations claims, onerous permitting and environmental rules, and high and still rising tax-inclusive energy costs. Across the province, the forestry, mining, and oil and gas industries are at the forefront of these challenges. Closer to home, in Surrey the agriculture industry and local manufacturers (lumber mills, parts of food processing, industrial equipment, high-tech) are all also challenged by B.C.’s deteriorating competitive position.

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. tax regime hurts new investment in equipment, technology (Business in Vancouver)

While B.C. has recently posted some impressive economic numbers compared with the rest of the country, in a few areas we continue to underperform. The most glaring example is non-residential business investment.

Investment in “tangible” capital, such as machinery, equipment, structures, advanced technology products and engineering infrastructure, is essential to a thriving business sector. Increasingly, investment in “intangible” forms of capital, such as research and development, patents, trademarks, business processes and employee training, is also becoming a key ingredient in business success. Both kinds of capital contribute directly to economic growth and job creation in the short term. And with time, the benefits of such investments are magnified. Expanding and improving the stock of capital means that employees have up-to-date machinery and equipment, modern facilities, more efficient infrastructure and better intellectual property products to work with, allowing them to become more productive (and, hopefully, to earn more). 

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SUBMISSION in advance of the 2017 Provincial Budget

The Business Council's submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services in advance of the 2017 Provincial Budget

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Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C.’s economic buffer in the energy downturn: real estate (Business in Vancouver)

BC’s economy looks to be in decent shape. The province led the country in economic growth last year and will likely do so again in 2016. In the U.S., just six of the 50 states exceeded B.C.’s 3% GDP growth rate in 2015.

So why is our province faring so well? One reason is that we don’t produce much oil and so have avoided the worst fallout from the worldwide oil price collapse. The weaker Canadian dollar has also helped. Non-resource manufacturing, high technology goods and services, agricultural products, tourism, and film and television production have all enjoyed hefty gains, in part because a feebler Canadian dollar makes them more competitive in the North American market. But other provinces also benefit from a cheaper currency.

In fact, much of B.C.’s recent success reflects the unusual strength of the domestic economy. And supported by record low mortgage rates and steady inflows of migrants and wealth from outside our borders, the residential housing complex has had a starring role in B.C.’s robust domestic economy, via new home construction, high levels of renovation spending and escalating home prices.

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New Regional Effort Aims to Establish Cascadia Innovation Corridor

British Columbia and Washington leaders come together to strengthen collaboration, create cross-border opportunity

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Innovation for Jobs and Productivity:
Fostering High-Growth BC Businesses, Creating More High-Paying Jobs

How can British Columbia draw on its strengths to build a vibrant, diverse economy, one that produces rewarding employment opportunities and rising incomes for the people who work and do business here? Scholars and leading international organizations agree that the best route to sustained prosperity is by developing a highly productive economy.

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Finlayson& Peacock Op-Ed: 15% property transfer tax should not apply to non-Canadians who move to Metro Vancouver for bona fide employment reasons (Business in Vancouver)

The way the government designed its property transfer tax scheme means that it will impose a stiff financial penalty on foreigners who locate here to take jobs.

The Lower Mainland’s frothy housing market continues to attract a great deal of media and political attention. In late July, the B.C. government responded to mounting public anxiety over soaring housing prices by instituting a 15% property transfer tax (PTT) on “foreign” purchases of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver. This measure predictably has raised the ire of the real estate industry, in part because it has captured, unfairly in our view, many in-process transactions that pre-date the effective date of the tax.

It is unclear whether the higher PTT will dampen housing demand. Initial evidence does point to some slowdown in the pace of real estate activity. The fact that foreigners have been responsible for at least 10% of all residential property purchases in the Vancouver region suggests that the new tax should have some effect.

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An Updated Look at British Columbia's Parks, Protected Areas and Conservation Efforts

Conservation of land and marine areas is an important part of recognizing natural, ecological, and/or cultural values of biodiversity. British Columbia is a world leader in this regard.

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