The Business Council is offering a series of policy recommendations for the next government of British Columbia which are intended to put the province on a path towards a private sector led, job rich economic recovery which provides long term opportunity for families, employers and businesses.
British Columbians are facing the most uncertain and challenging economic circumstances since the 1930s, and the road to recovery will be bumpy. The Business Council remains concerned with the long term impact job loss will have on young and low-income workers amid slower job recovery. The number of people working is still 100,000 below February’s level and will continue to be restrained as key sectors including tourism are limited in their ability to operate.
The Business Council is also concerned with the steep drop in government revenues as a result of declining private sector activity at a time when the public requires ongoing investments into health care, education and social supports. It will be important for whichever party forms government to evaluate current and proposed provincial policies through the lens of what will pay off in terms of promoting investment, business growth, job creation, government revenues and citizen well-being.
“It is imperative all political parties focus on expanding the economic pie – rather than quarrelling about how to carve up a shrinking one,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia. “Returning to pre-crisis investment and employment will require supporting the scaling up of those B.C. businesses that survive the pandemic, and spurring new job creation, training and business formation. Our recommended priorities for the next government are focused on policies and supports that will encourage private sector investment and business start-ups and expansion.”
“We recognize smart public policy includes other priority areas beyond support for the economic recovery,” continued D’Avignon. “But other priority areas including health care, education and social supports cannot be advanced and enriched without the additional resources derived from private sector growth.
“All government spending is funded by taxpayers and business taxes, or by borrowing funds that must be repaid by future taxpayers. From BCBC’s perspective, a strong economy is the highest priority. Without that, little can be accomplished by any government.”
The series of recommendations include:
- Significantly reducing the burden of the PST for 1-2 years, to help households, increase business investment, and stimulate economic activity;
- Focus on streamlining approval processes and reducing regulatory and compliance costs for B.C. businesses;
- Quickly expanding childcare services;
- Supporting First Nation’s economic development capacity;
- Improving the investment climate in the province’s forestry sector;
- Support post-secondary education partnerships with employers on rapid reskilling and mobility for displaced workers and support the roll-out and gradual expansion of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL);
- When finances permit, reduce income tax rates or the income thresholds at which B.C.’s highest personal tax rates apply to help drive business and employment growth and the development of more substantial head offices in the province; and
- Create a robust carbon-offsets system that includes the provinces and the federal government and encourage investment in emissions-reducing technologies and alternative fuels, ideally in collaboration with Alberta and Saskatchewan.