The provincial government's financial picture was better than expected in the first quarter, with the year-end deficit projected to be $4.8 billion — about half of what was initially forecast five months ago in the 2021 budget.
The Chamber recently presented to BC's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to advocate for policies that will help grow the economy and allow the province to return to budget surpluses.
The updated numbers show that BC's economy is rebounding, and that the province has the capacity to continue helping hard hit sectors, such as tourism and transportation, until they can fully participate in the recovery.
Don't forget to pack your reusable bags when going shopping in the District of Saanich. The municipality's bylaw regulating single-use plastic bags came into effect Aug. 20. Saanich has created posters, till toppers and other printable resources for businesses to help with the transition.
The Chamber continues to work with Greater Victoria municipalities to ensure checkout bag bylaws align and support initiatives implemented by retailers in response to public demand.
On Monday morning, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams brought concerns raised by our members and Chamber Champions to BC's Select Standing Committee on Fiance and Government Services.
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce was asked to present to the committee along with the Burnaby Board of Trade, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Surrey Board of Trade. These organizations are leading advocates for business in BC and help government set priorities ahead of next year's BC budget. Among the many issues raised were finding and keeping workers, fair taxation and fiscal prudence.
"We thank the province for including the voice of Greater Victoria businesses and we look forward to continuing to working closely on programs and policies that will be key to growing our region's private sector," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said.
You can listen to Bruce's comments to the committee, starting after the 9:28 mark.
Richard Michaels has been named chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s newly formed Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion. The committee will reach out to better include communities that have faced systemic marginalization due to race, ethnicity, gender, physical capabilities or other factors.
“I am proud to be the first chair of this new committee, which recognizes that the demographics of Greater Victoria are evolving and that adapting to this change is fundamental to the sustainability of our region’s economy,” said Michaels, president of MACCRIM Solutions and a member of The Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Chamber is working to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment that engages businesses owners and entrepreneurs who reflect the full spectrum of our region. This strengthens our organization and ensures everyone in our region’s business community is represented by The Chamber.”
The purpose of the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion is to offer advice and guidance to help The Chamber create a more inclusive and welcoming business community. The mandate is part of the work the organization has been doing to achieve its vision of being “the region’s most diverse and influential business association.”
In June, The Chamber also announced the creation of an Indigenous Business Task Force to work toward reconciliation by engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and First Nations to ensure they have access to all opportunities available to help them flourish.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we know things will not be as they were before it started,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “This is the time to take what we’ve learned from successfully adapting to challenging times and make our economy more sustainable. Good business really does build great community for all.”
Work done by The Chamber along with Greater Victoria municipalities helped pave the way for a change to provincial rules around banning single-use plastics and plastic bags. On Tuesday, the province announced it was amending BC's Community Charter to allow local governments to ban plastics without first getting approval from BC's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
The City of Victoria has been at the forefront of the move to ban single-use plastics, and worked closely with The Chamber to ensure its regulation aligned with ongoing business practices. Consumers have asked for alternatives to plastics for years, and it was vital that regulations match the innovations businesses already had in place.
The Chamber also worked with the District of Saanich, the Township of Esquimalt, and the City of Colwood to ensure regulations are the same for businesses and consumers throughout Greater Victoria.
The federal government has clarified rules around intergenerational transfers of shares in a small business. The clarification came after push back from business organizations, including the national chamber network.
The change will help businesses with succession planning, and make it easier for children and grandchildren to carry on with the company. Bill C-208 was passed earlier this week to "support family-run Canadian small business, protect the tax system and ensure everyone pays their fair share," states the federal government's news release.
Tourism businesses received welcome news on Monday as the federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Mélanie Joly, announced the $500-million Tourism Relief Fund. The program aims to help businesses and organizations make their products and services more resilient from future shocks.
Money can be used for adapting to new regulations, modernizing products and encouraging environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices. As well, the funds can aid with strategic planning that helps with destination development. The funds are not available for restaurants, retailers or hotel chains.
Eligible applicants can receive up to $100,000 in non-repayable contributions for 50% of eligible costs, or up to to $500,000 in repayable contributions for up to 75% of eligible costs.