The Chamber applauds news that the federal government will allow international students to work more than their current limit of 20 hours.
Having access to a larger workforce will help us better achieve our economic potential. Allowing students to earn more money without interfering in their studies will also improve the economic situation of new graduates. Canada also relies on immigration to meet employment forecasts, and having people who have studied and worked here will only help with the adjustment to Canadian society.
The pilot project begins Nov. 15 and is scheduled to run until the end of 2023, though there are already calls to make the extended hours permanent.
Last week's news that the provincial government is making child care more affordable is a step in the right direction. The Chamber has long advocated for accessible and affordable child care as a vital investment in our economy.
On Friday, the province announced that parents can expect to save as much as $550 in child care costs every month. The new funding will go directly to licensed child care centres so parents don't have to apply. The savings will take effect in December, and help families with children who are kindergarten-aged or younger.
The savings build on earlier cuts to costs and are funded by the federal governments $3.2 billion agreement with BC.
Examples of how the program will help families and allow more parents to continue their careers include:
The latest numbers show inflation has cooled faster than expected. The August Consumer Price Index was up 7% over last year — less than the 7.3% that had been forecast. Core inflation was also lower than expected.
The drop in inflation comes after the Bank of Canada raised interest rates. However, it will take more than numbers to stem inflation and get Canada's economy back on track, said the bank's Deputy Governor Paul Beaudry.
"Some have suggested that policy-makers need to engineer a substantial slowdown — or even a recession — to get inflation back under control," Beaudry said in a speech on Tuesday. "But the best strategy for responding to high inflation needs to consider how people form their inflation expectations. If people understand and believe that the central bank will eventually bring inflation back to target, their expectations will remain 'anchored.'”
Businesses and employers can help by moderating increases to prices or wages, with the understanding that inflationary pressures are temporary. Not an easy task for organizations facing increasing costs and still recovering from pandemic challenges.
The Chamber applauds the provincial government's initiative to seek public input on plans to rejuvenate Belleville Terminal.
The facility in the Inner Harbour has served as a gateway for international visitors arriving by water since 1924. As a champion of our region's tourism industry, The Chamber has consistently advocated for the terminal and the need to modernize it with the times.
"We've been calling for renovations for decades, and it's taken time to get all levels of government onboard," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "Now that we've done that, there's no time to lose. The requirements to be a border crossing have changed and there's a real risk we could lose our port of entry."
More than 680,000 passengers travelled through Belleville Terminal in 2019 and spent about $174 million in Greater Victoria, says the province's project plan.
Belleville Terminal generates 220,000 overnight visitors and sells over 16,000 vacation packages annually to their passengers, all of which are provided by local businesses in Victoria.
The province is developing a business case for the project. It's expected to cost up to $290 million and be completed by fall 2027.
A temporary terminal will be built until a new facility is ready.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8 has led to a tremendous response from people around the world.
"On behalf of our Chamber members, Board of Directors and Staff we offer sincere condolences to all who are feeling grief and sadness at the passing of Queen Elizabeth," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said in a statement last week. "These historic events bring us together in conversations about the impact the Royal Family and Her Majesty have had on our world and our lives. Her years of service are an inspiration to all who offer their lives to service of others."
Yesterday, the federal government announced it would mark the Queen's death with a national day of mourning on Sept. 19. BC Premier John Horgan followed suit a few hours later noting that the province has "advised provincial public-sector employers to honour this day in recognition of the obligations around federal holidays in the vast majority of provincial collective agreements."
The unplanned closure of schools and public offices will have an impact on many businesses. Staffing could be challenging as parents scramble to arrange child care. People who had appointments booked will also face disruption as they need to reschedule for a later date.
In Greater Victoria, the province is planning to host a procession on Sept. 19, starting at 10:15 am, and travelling from the BC Legislature to Christ Church Cathedral.
The pandemic showed that government support has an important role in helping business. As the economy recovers, the lessons learned should help the public and private sectors find more efficient ways to work together.
To that end, Innovation Canada is hosting an event at 10 am on Sept. 14 for entrepreneurs interested in government investment. explain what programs are available to help businesses scale their growth
The free session includes a chance to ask questions. Register here.
Housing supply is critical in order to address the highest expense directly affecting the cost of living in our region and across Canada. With demand growing due to increases to our population, the challenge of our time is to ensure homes are accessible and affordable for everyone needed to help our community prosper.
"It's fundamental economics. A limited supply results in increased demand, which tends to increase costs," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "We need a concerted effort from all levels of government to support builders who need an adequate workforce as well as access to materials and land needed to build more homes."
Some progress is being made. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. recently reported that urban housing starts increased in July compared to June.
“Historically elevated levels of housing starts activity continue in Canada, which have been well above 200,000 units since 2020,” said Aled Ab Iorwerth, CMHC's Deputy Chief Economist.
Concerns over inflation and the resulting increase in interest rates sparked by the Bank of Canada have worked to cool down housing sales in our region. The Victoria Real Estate Board's latest statistical analysis shows 35% fewer homes were sold in June compared to the same month last year. There are more listings on the market allowing it to settle into a more typical pace than the frenzied conditions experienced during the pandemic.
However, the benchmark value for homes continued to increase to $1,464,400 in June from $1,446,400 in May.
"It may seem counterintuitive to continue to talk about the need for supply at a time when inventory is rising," VREB President Dinnie-Smyth said in a news release. "We must keep the conversation alive, and we urge all levels of government to continue to aggressively address the housing supply situation. We need more supply of all types of housing."
A lack of housing supply is a major factor in the challenge many employers face finding and keeping workers.
“We are always advocating for more affordable housing and housing supply, as well as security and sustainability in supply chains to get the needed materials in place to create housing,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told the Times Colonist.
British Columbia will be among the first provinces to engage in consultations with the federal government on planning for a new economy based on renewable energy.
The Regional Energy and Resource Tables will include representatives from municipalities, First Nations, universities, industry and business groups. The discussion will look at opportunities that come with investing in a net-zero economy.
“It's about actually doing the manufacturing of batteries and electric vehicles and a range of other products that utilize critical minerals in this country,” Minister of Natural Resources Jonathon Wilkinson told Glacier Media. “I see this as actually a generational opportunity for Canada.”
An initiative that started in the City of Victoria, was supported by business and took root across Greater Victoria is moving to the national stage. As of the end of this year, the federal government is banning the production or importation of single-use plastic bags, straws, stir sticks containers and other items that clog up landfills and contaminate natural ecosystems.
The Chamber worked closely with local governments on the initial regulations to ensure government followed innovations already being introduced by business. This helped the implementation unfold smoothly as the rules were a response to public demand as identified by businesses, ensuring success. The best way to address the seriousness of climate change is by supporting innovations led by business.
As Chair of the Council of the Federation, BC Premier John Horgan will host his counterparts from across the country in Victoria on July 11-12.
Premiers from every province and territory in Canada are expected to debate in style at the Fairmont Empress. The premiers will discuss national issues, including a call for the federal government to increase health care funding.
“Canada’s public health-care system began as a 50/50 partnership, but the federal government’s contribution has shrunk to just 22%," Horgan said in a news release. "This is not sustainable for our health-care system and we cannot afford to wait. Today, I renew my call to the federal government to provide their fair share and cover 35% of the costs."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made several appearances in Greater Victoria on Monday, including a meeting with City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to talk about housing affordability, climate change and the opioid crisis.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister was at Royal Roads University to speak about the federal government's effort to increase sales of electric vehicles and the number of charging stations.
The PMO announced it wants 60% of all new vehicles sales to be electric by 2030, and 100% by 2035.
The federal budget will be unveiled tomorrow at 1 pm and is expected to include plans for long-term economic growth. However, high inflation and uncertainty over the war in the Ukraine could see the government focus on new spending priorities, states an analysis by RBC Dominion Securities.
Housing affordability will be the cornerstone of the budget, according to media reports that suggest new rules will prohibit foreign buyers of real estate for the next two years. CTV also says the budget will include:
The budget is also expected to include a surtax on banks and insurance companies, and billions of dollars in new spending for the military.
The RBC analysis notes that Canada's economic recovery has been stronger than expected, allowing the feds to announce new spending and lower deficit projections. The analysis also points out that private capital will be required to grow the economy over the long term and to begin addressing chronic labour shortages facing all sectors.
How do you think the federal government can help Canada's economy remain robust and resilient in the years ahead?
Now is the time to engage with federal decision makers, who are looking to the business community for help understanding the private sector's challenges and opportunities. The Chamber is preparing a submission for pre-budget consultations. We're also working with the national chamber network to amplify the voice of business.
Let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com before Feb. 18, or answering a questionnaire by Feb. 25.
The federal government delivered its Speech from the Throne yesterday. The speech touched on issues of concern for business, such as inflation and disrupted supply chains, but was light on details about how government will address these issues.
The Chamber applauds promises to fight climate change and ongoing support for sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. We'll continue to advocate through our national network for investment in business innovation as well as policies that address the labour shortage affecting employers.
The campaigning is over, the results are in, and now we need the federal government to renew its focus on investing in economic growth led by business.
"It's time for the federal government to take the steps needed to enable the private sector to create jobs and wealth that we need to move away from deficits and reduce public debt," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says.
The Chamber and our national network are calling on parliament to:
If you want to see where Greater Victoria's newly re-elected MPs stand on these and other issues, check out our online sessions with candidates.
The federal election is Monday, and it's the last chance to vote for the candidate of your choice.
If you're still deciding on who to vote for, or want more information on the major candidates in your riding, make sure to check out The Chamber's candidate panels. Conducted this week for the four ridings in Greater Victoria, the panels are moderated by Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and focus on issues of importance to the region's business community.
Local interest is high in this election, with Victoria and Saanich-Gulf Island the top two ridings in Canada for applications for mail-in ballots. As well, more than 5.8 million Canadians have already voted in advanced polls held between Sept. 10-13.
On voting day, employers must ensure that employees who are eligible to vote have three consecutive hours to get to the polls, which are open from 7 am to 7 pm. Employers can decide which hours they allow staff to vote, but must pay employees if the time is within work hours.
With a federal election now set for Sept. 20, The Chamber has begun reaching out to candidates in the four ridings representing Greater Victoria.
"The Chamber is planning to host panels with the candidates before the election," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "We're looking at a format we've had success with that ensures candidates understand the challenges and advocacy priorities of our business community."
Full details about the candidate panels will be announced soon. The Chamber wants to hear from members about the issues important to you in this election.
Please send your questions for candidates to firstname.lastname@example.org.