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Wins for Business

As the largest and most influential business group in Greater Victoria, The Chamber is the voice of business, advocating for environment conducive for businesses growth and success. Chamber advocacy is a unique service that differentiates The Chamber from other membership-based associations throughout Greater Victoria.

Here are some recent favourable government decisions:

Access to Foreign Talent
Canada's long-awaited fast-track visa officially launched June 12. The fast-track visa - officially called the Global Talent Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program - promises a process time of 10 days to two weeks for high-skills talent. 

The Global Talent Stream is open to foreign workers with executive and managerial experience, and the two-week processing standard also applies to immediate family members accompanying the workers to Canada.

“The Chamber has been advocating strongly for efficient immigration processes and relevant immigration targets as well as domestic mobility programs to allow employers to effectively compete for talent,” said Greater Victoria Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. “Although there is more work to be done, we do consider this a ‘win for business’.”

“We are happy to see any improvement in regards to the immigration process,” said Chemistry Consulting Partner Christine Willow. “Although employers may see some lag at the Embassy-level, depending on the source country of the applicants, this commitment to a reduced processing time for in-demand applicants is good news.”

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains announced June 7, 2017 that the Government of Canada will indefinitely suspend implementation of the private right of action provision in Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). The Private Right of Action Provision would have allowed individuals to take legal action against any company which sent them an email they did not want to receive, without proof of damages.

The Canadian Chamber and BC Chamber had been advocating that CASL be immediately amended to remove the most damaging aspects of the law and be replaced with a more effective law that protects Canadian businesses' ability to communicate and compete in the global digital economy.

CASL also created a provisional period of three years where consent to receive commercial electronic messages was deemed to be implied where there was an existing business or non-business relationship. This ended July 1, 2017 at which point this consent expires.  

BC Ferries Infrastructure Funding
Since March 2016, The Chamber has been advocating for BC Ferries capital requirements to be eligible for federal infrastructure funding - an area for which eligibility was unclear - to lighten the funding load on both the Province and ferry users.

"BC Ferries had difficulty accessing Government of Canada public capital infrastructure programs, which we saw as exerting upward pressure on fares," said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "Federal government investment in BC Ferries' capital program would reduce cost pressures as BC Ferries renews its fleet, develops terminals and faces other capital costs. Given the Government of Canada's obligation to provide ferry services to coastal British Columbia, we felt it only made sense that BC Ferries' capital infrastructure requirements should be eligible for federal investment."

As outlined in this March 31, 2017 news release, the Government of Canada and BC Ferries announced joint funding of over $201 million towards three projects that will upgrade and expand ferry services in B.C., including infrastructure upgrades.

"We were pleased to hear that the federal government decided that BC Ferries is eligible, providing $60 million for various upgrades, including new ferries and improved terminals," Catherine added.

BC Transit Funding
Efficient, affordable, and reliable public and private transit supports our labour force, helps reduce congestion on our roads and serves key sectors such as tourism.

As announced in a joint Province of B.C./Victoria Regional Transit Commission news release March 28, 2017, the Government of B.C. is investing $1.63-million this year for 8 new buses, 20,000 extra service hours, additional trips on many routes and expanded service to growing areas of the Greater Victoria region, primarily the Westshore.

"The Chamber and many others have been actively advocating for additional provincial funding sources for public transit in Greater Victoria and that funding was expected in the recent budget," said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "We are glad to see the Province meet its commitment to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission."
 
The additional funding is an interim solution to support the expansion of transit services for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  


Tax on Employer-Paid Health and Dental Benefits
In January, media reported that the federal government was considering taxing employer-paid health and dental benefits.

When a similar tax was introduced in Quebec, 20% of employers dropped health and dental benefits for employees. Studies suggest the removal of this tax benefit across the board could result in a decrease of 50% of small firms who will be able to offer health benefits.

With the Canadian Chamber of Commerce taking the lead, we asked our members to send a letter to the Minister of Finance and their local MPs to outlining how this tax would affect their business (Greater Victoria Chamber letters here with a response here.)

On Feb 1, media reported that the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons that the government will not be moving forward with the tax.

"We will continue to monitor developments, but this is very positive news," said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "Thanks to all who heeded our call to action - the Chamber network has a powerful voice when we all work together."

Natural Gas Rates for Vancouver Island
In February 2014, the BC Utility Commission (BCUC) decided to approve the proposal for common natural gas rates for the province. The Chamber was one of six interveners in the application to BCUC for reconsideration on common rates. The reversal on common rates for natural gas saw rates on Vancouver Island reduced to match the rest of the province — projected to be over a 25 percent reduction. This is a significant policy win for both residents and businesses on Vancouver Island.

Tax Credit for Filming in Greater Victoria
In February 2014, the Film and Television Production Regulation was amended to include film production in Greater Victoria as eligible for the six percent Distant Location Regional Tax Credit. The Chamber and the Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission were just some of those who advocated for Greater Victoria’s inclusion in the Regulation. Since the change, film production in the region has dramatically increased, with Vancouver Island South Film & Media Commission calculating 20 million in direct spending between Feb. 2014 and Apr. 2015.

Destination Marketing Organizations
In November 2012, the province launched Destination BC, a new industry-led, legislature-funded crown corporation. Destination BC was created to work directly with the tourism sector to market B.C. as a tourism destination, taking on a similar role to the former Tourism BC. 

Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program
The federal government announced administrative improvements to the Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program (FCTIP) in May 2012. Improvements included: GST/HST rulings service to inform tour operators in advance about whether their tour packages will be eligible for a rebate; streamlining processing of FCTIP rebate claims; creating and distributing a multilingual information pamphlet on the program; and making information on the FCTIP easier to find on the CRA website.

Local Government Auditor General
In response to member concerns about the absolute level — and continuing rise — in municipal government spending, a proposal was drafted to create an auditor for municipalities. This auditor would conduct performance audits with the objective of achieving efficiencies in local government. This office was created in 2012 and the Act can be found here

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