We can all agree that everyone needs and deserves a safe community in order to have functional and healthy workplaces and homes. In Greater Victoria, we know there is tremendous compassion for people living in our communities' parks and on our streets. Tremendous work has been done to help and house individuals, but more needs to be done to address root causes. Specifically, the issue of involuntary care has been a controversial topic but is one that needs to be discussed.
The Chamber commends Our Place CEO Julian Daly for his thoughtful essay published on April 27 in the Times Colonist.
Daly, who also spoke about this issue on a Chamber Chat in February, acknowledged that the issue "will be provocative and controversial to some."
"After decades of work in this field, and years of advocating for those who are homeless and struggling, heartfelt and bitter experience has taught me that, in some situations, there is a need to bring people into this kind of care involuntarily," Daly writes, stressing that he does not want a return to the old ways of inhumane institutions. However, he states there are extreme circumstances when vulnerable people need to be removed from dangerous situations. "In these situations, we believe it is the right thing to compel care. We believe that in doing so their rights are recognized – the right to be safe, the right to be housed, and the right to good health."
On April 27, BC's Minister of Finance Selina Robinson provided Chamber members with an overview of the recently unveiled budget and she answered questions about the state of the province's economy.
If you missed seeing it live, you can still watch a recording of the event to hear what Minister Robinson had to say about government plans to help business and families, and implement new initiatives to ensure our economic recovery continues.
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A new provincial Crown corporation with independence to make investments without political interference has been created. The aim is to use a $500 million fund to keep growing businesses in BC, instead of moving away as they scale up and need more capital.
The province says InBC is a new initiative to "help businesses scale up, drive innovation, create family-supporting jobs" that will drive economic recovery after the pandemic ends.
“Congratulations to the BC government on the launch of the InBC Strategic Investment Fund," BDC Capital executive vice-president Jérôme Nycz said in a news release. "We are pleased that the province can rely on a new source of capital to support its innovation economy, alongside other national players such as BDC Capital.”
April 22 is Earth Day — a time to reflect on the environmental impact we have on the world, and how we can mitigate climate change together.
The Chamber is proud to be recognized as Green Certified by the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective, and we continue to work to help businesses take the lead on climate solutions that will benefit all of us.
This Earth Day, like all days, many forms of sustainable transportation exists to get around Greater Victoria – from cycling to running, enjoy great weather this earth day and #ExploreVictoriaLocal
If you’re looking for other sustainable ways to get around town, check out these eco-friendly initiatives:
Being green is good for everyone: people, planet, and profit. Let's try to make every day earth day!
An electric bus will be used to carry passengers between Victoria and Nanaimo as part of a pilot project between the Wilson's Group and BYD Canada.
A 41-passenger coach, powered by a 313-kWh battery, will be used for a three-month trial starting April 22.
“It has always been our company’s plan to reduce our emissions and footprint," Wilson's Group President and CEO John Wilson said. "However, with the setback we experienced through COVID, the high cost of replacing our fleet with electric vehicles seemed out of reach. This new partnership allows both companies to help do our part towards a sustainable future.”
The bus, a Model C8M, is expected to reduce emissions for the route by 97%.
We are all tired of the pandemic. You are not alone in feeling that way.
As a member of Greater Victoria's business community, you have an important role to help lead the way to the finish line.
BC's immunization campaign is moving quickly and is our best chance to get our lives back this summer.
We can't let vaccine hesitancy slow us down or endanger this opportunity. We need to win the battle against COVID variants.
As of Friday, registration will be open to all adults in British Columbia.
We urge you to learn more about vaccines being used in BC, and register for your turn to help win this fight.
If you are over the age of 40, you can also register to get your first dose from an eligible pharmacy.
Be a #ChamberChangeMaker. Let's help encourage everyone to get immunized by sharing a photo of you with proof of vaccination (without personal details) on social media and tagging The Chamber!
This week, Canadians and British Columbians finally had their chance to see the financial impact the pandemic has had on our country and province. First and foremost, it's clear these are not ordinary times. The Chamber and our national network understand that long-term economic health will require governments to get debt and deficits under control.
What we wanted to see from this week's budgets were investments that will allow businesses to soar as the post-pandemic economy lifts off. The outlook is good, with the Bank of Canada calling for better than expected growth this year.
We've seen many Pivot Pilots adapt and succeed. Their resilience is inspirational and will help lead the way as Greater Victoria's economy returns to the robust health we enjoyed before the pandemic. Below is a look at a few highlights from both budgets.
Federal budget's focus on short-term is OK for now
Monday's federal budget included a number of items advocated for by The Chamber.
Supports for businesses were extended, including the wage and rent subsidies. There were also funds for retraining workers to have the skills needed by employers. And we welcomed news of investment in child care that will help working mothers continue in their chosen careers. However, we'll have to wait and see how quickly this will translate to accessible and affordable child care spaces in our region.
All in all, the budget delivered on continuing support for hard-hit businesses and, hopefully, will lead to less reliance on subsidies as businesses get back to thriving — and playing their role in growing the economy.
“The budget’s focus on growth and jobs is an important step towards our economic recovery, but our growth drivers will need to shift from public spending to private investment to help get our finances under control," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
To hear more about the 2021 federal budget, register now for A Conversation with the Hon. Joyce Murray, Thursday, April 22, from 1:30-2 pm.
Provincial budget offers update on BC's fiscal health
On Tuesday, the first provincial budget in two years estimates a deficit of $9.7 billion for 2021-2022, before recovering quickly in the next two years. BC will get back to balanced budgets within nine years, Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced.
The budget included funding for tourism recovery, and the province said it is working with industry to ensure money will help the hardest-hit businesses survive.
“We’ve been calling for immediate help for large tourism operators that anchor that vital sector," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "It was good to hear $100 million is being allocated for tourism, attractions and trails, and we look forward to seeing more details.”
However, transportation companies are still waiting for funding.
"We’re hoping to see money that, in some cases, was announced very publicly, actually get into the pockets of businesses that need it," Williams said. "As we recover from the pandemic, it will take much longer for the economy to recover if we have to rebuild transportation infrastructure that could be lost if those businesses are not able to hang on."
To hear more about the 2021 provincial budget, register now for A Conversation with the BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson, Monday, April 26, from 3-4 pm.
Business in BC can now apply for Provincial Sales Tax rebates on purchases or leases of machinery and equipment, including tools, furniture, computers, software and zero-emission vehicles.
The rebate, announced in September, allows incorporated businesses to recover 100% of PST on most machinery and equipment purchased between Sept. 17 last year and Sept. 30 of this year.
Applications can be made until Sept. 20 for the first window. A second window of eligibility begins in October and continues to March 31, 2022. Rebate eligibility is based on the Canada Revenue Agency’s Capital Cost Allowance classes.
Apply for PST Rebate
Camosun College is getting $150,000 from the province to explore film industry training programs as well as the development of a film studio on campus in the District of Saanich.
“The investment from the BC government allows the college to further explore the feasibility of a film studio and sound stage at our Interurban campus and the exciting educational possibilities it could create for students," Camosun College's president Sherri Bell said in a news release.
The funds are a first step for creating the infrastructure needed to provide more opportunities for Vancouver Island's film industry, which continues riding a wave of optimism in 2021.
"By working together, we can capture the opportunity to bring more big-budget movies and TV shows produced right here in Saanich and create the essential infrastructure for a successful creative industry on the south Island at large,” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said in a news release.