Federal Budget Delivers on Liberal Campaign Commitments...But Little New for Business
In his inaugural budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau ushered in a new era of higher federal spending and sizable deficits. It is important to take note of the current context: a Canadian economy that’s still struggling to adjust to dramatically lower oil prices and a generalized downturn in global commodity markets. We should also take account of the federal government’s solid baseline financial position. Even with a string of deficits, the federal debt/GDP ratio is projected to remain essentially flat over the next half decade.
An Update on Union Density in BC
After tracking Canadian density rates for a number of years, overall union density in BC has now moved visibly below the national benchmark.
A New Marine Regulatory Regime on BC’s North and Central Coast?
This issue of the Environment and Energy Bulletin reviews recent and prospective developments on the north and central coast, and considers some implications for the flow of goods and resources that underpin the regional and provincial economy. It also sets out a few key principles that we believe should underpin a stable coastal regulatory regime that supports sustainable economic growth.
The 2016 BC Budget: High Marks for Fiscal Management...
But BC Must Do More to Improve Competitiveness
Unveiled by Finance Minister Mike de Jong on the afternoon of February 16, Budget 2016 tells a generally upbeat story of British Columbia’s economic performance and fiscal health. Economic and job growth are running above the national average, and BC is one of only two provinces expected to post a balanced operating budget (or surplus) both this year and in 2016-17.
BC's Growth Story Remains Intact...Despite An Uninspiring Global Backdrop
Against the backdrop of diverging growth prospects across the developed and emerging economies and substantial declines in the prices of many commodities, British Columbia is poised for another year of respectable economic performance in 2016.
Canadian Head Office Survey: How Do Metro Vancouver and British Columbia Stack Up?
This issue of Policy Perspectives reviews the recently released Statistics Canada Annual Head Office Survey, comments on its implications for BC/Metro Vancouver, and offers a few thoughts on factors that contribute to a robust head office “ecosystem.”
Projections Point to Balanced Labour Market Conditions in BC
The BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently released its updated labour market projections.
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.
British Columbia Since 1995: A Brief Retrospective
As we ponder what British Columbia will look like in 2035 as part of our 50th anniversary programme, it is useful to review how the province’s economy and society have been reshaped over the past two decades, a period of time that has seen the rise of Asia, an expansion of BC’s gateway economy, the development of new and emerging industries, various commodity cycles, changes in the currency, steady inflows of migrants, population aging, and continued urbanization.
What follows is a brief snapshot of a number of significant, high-level economic and demographic trends that have influenced the province since the mid-1990s. But first, to provide a bit of context, we highlight a few features of the political setting and the wider external environment from two decades ago.
Labour Mobility an Essential Feature of Canada's Regional Labour Markets
Canada’s labour market is dynamic. People move freely across provincial borders for a mix of reasons, including varying economic and labour market conditions. Given Canada’s vast geography and differing industrial structures across the provinces, the ability of people to migrate to other regions is an essential element of the Canadian “common market.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership – Positioning Canada and British Columbia for the Pacific Century
The October 5, 2015 announcement that 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is good news for British Columbia. Once/if ratified by all of the signatory countries, it will take time for BC businesses to feel the full effects of the deal: elimination of some tariffs will take 10 years or more. Eventually, the global economic potential of the “TPP region” and the new areas covered by the agreement, particularly services and investor and intellectual property protections, could reshape trade flows and boost economic development in what is already the most dynamic region in the world.
Federal Election Economic Policy Primer
British Columbians and the rest of the country go to the polls on October 19. In voting, they will help to set the course for the nation’s economy in 2016 and over the rest of the decade. In this pre-election briefing document, we outline some of the BC business community’s priority issues, both for the election itself and for the agenda of the federal government that Canadians will choose on October 19.
Carbon Pricing, Fusion Style – Policy Issues to Consider When Carbon Taxes Meet Cap-and-Trade
While there appears to be a growing consensus on the need to price carbon, there is no consensus on the most effective means of doing so – either via taxes or trading schemes.
Winners and Losers from the Slumping Loonie...Through a British Columbia Lens
In the final months of 2012 the Canadian dollar was trading slightly above parity with the US greenback. Nearly three years later, one Canadian dollar is worth ~76 US cents. This marks an unprecedented depreciation of the Canadian currency – more than 25% in a bit less than three years. A decline of this speed and magnitude has significant economic implications.
Labour Demand and Supply in Canada: The Big Picture
Concerns over labour shortages continue to be voiced by some leading employer organizations. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Conference Board are among the groups that have identified shortfalls in the supply of workers as a priority public policy issue. Some individual industry sectors – from trucking to construction, the IT industry, mining, and the electricity sector, among many others – have produced reports that highlight current or projected national-level worker shortages in certain occupations. Such sentiments are also common among employers here in British Columbia.
Some Reflections on the Global Energy Transition
Is the world in the midst of a rapidly accelerating migration away from fossil fuels, toward a much greater reliance on carbon-free sources of energy? If one takes seriously the speeches of Environment Ministers or the content found on the web sites of many well-known environmental advocacy organizations, the temptation is to answer “yes.” The reality, however, is more complex.
In this edition of Environment and Energy Bulletin, Jock Finlayson analyzes the recent projections of three well-respected sources - the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) and British Petroleum (BP). He concludes that for the world as a whole, there is certainly evidence of an incremental move away from fossil fuels as a primary energy source, in favour of low/no-carbon forms of energy. However, looking out over the next two decades, the trend-lines point to a real, but far from revolutionary, energy transition, one that is unlikely to entail an absolute reduction in the quantity of fossil fuels produced and consumed globally by 2035 or 2040.
Business Alert: No Change in WorkSafeBC Average Premiums for 2016
WorkSafeBC recently announced that the average “base premium rate” in 2016 will be unchanged from 2015, continuing the pattern from last year. The average rate charged to employers is being set at $1.70 per $100 of assessed payroll, exactly the same as in 2015.
This should come as welcome news for the employer community, particularly in light of a seeming onslaught of government-mandated and/or policy-driven cost increases in so many other areas (Medical Services Plan premiums, fuel taxes, electricity rates, water rental charges, environmental assessment fees, etc.).
BC Economic Review & Outlook - Mid-Year Report
Amid External Headwinds, BC's Economy Is Holding Up Well
Against the backdrop of a choppy and risk-prone global economy and decelerating growth here in Canada, British Columbia is holding its own. As a small trade-oriented jurisdiction, the province is certainly not impervious to the economic headwinds, whether they blow globally or from within Canada. Sluggish commodity prices and the oil-driven recession unfolding in Alberta and Newfoundland are affecting all regions of Canada and have prompted us to trim our growth BC outlook relative to expectations back in January. However, by Canadian standards British Columbia looks well-positioned for a decent economic performance over the next 18-24 months.
It’s Bigger Than You Think: Non-Resource Manufacturing in BC
In British Columbia the processing of resources is a highly visible part of the manufacturing sector, particularly the processing of logs harvested from the province’s forests. But non-resource manufacturing is also a significant part of the provincial economic landscape.
This issue of Policy Perspectives takes a closer look at non-resource manufacturing in British Columbia. The sector comprises a bigger piece of the industrial base than most people realize. Looking ahead, we see non-resource manufacturing as a promising source of economic and export gains for British Columbia.
Trends in Unionization...in Canada and the Wider World
In many industrial countries the union movement is struggling to adapt to the accelerating pace of economic and technological change and related shifts in business practices, the structure of employment, and demographics. As jobs have migrated from manufacturing, resources and other goods-producing industries toward services, “union density” – the share of the workforce that belongs to a union – has been under downward pressure