B.C. mine inspectors at work. (B.C. government)

B.C. industry warns of labour shortage, increased regulation

Finance committee gets advice for 2020 provincial budget

Business representatives have warned B.C. MLAs about skilled labour shortages, long waits for permits and overlapping regulations that slow resource development in the province.

The B.C. legislature’s finance committee has released its recommendations for the province’s 2020 budget, illustrating the many competing demands for government services and spending facing the province.

While industry and business groups outlined the struggle to maintain and expand forestry, mining and natural gas development in B.C., an online survey conducted with the annual province-wide pre-budget tour shows public expectations take a different direction.

Increasing corporate taxes and natural resource royalties were the top two suggestions for funding government programs in the online survey, which attracted just over 400 responses on the topic. Less popular choices were increasing personal and property taxes, and reducing or eliminating some existing programs to save money.

In contrast, the Association of Mineral Exploration B.C. argued that increasing tax credits for prospecting activities would cost the province up to $6.5 million in tax revenues, but that would be offset by income tax revenue from increased employment.

RELATED: Skeena Sawmills spending millions to modernize

RELATED: B.C. extends mining tax credits to attract investment

B.C.’s investment climate was also a concern for business organizations.

“The Business Council of B.C. and Teck Resources expressed concerns about the regulatory environment, and how it contributes to a more costly, complex and uncertain business environment,” MLAs wrote in the report to Finance Minister Carole James.

“On a similar note, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association suggested using tax advantages and trade-enabling infrastructure to create an environment that encourages that encourages business and industry growth.”

The Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce briefed the committee on the struggles of the B.C. forest industry, which has seen widespread mill closures, some permanent, as it adjusts to reduced log supply, increasing costs and continued border duties imposed by the U.S. government.

Liquefied natural gas development in northern B.C. offered a bright spot for the industrial economy. The North Matters, a Kitimat-based organization, told the committee that Kitimat is poised to double its population within the next year and a half as a workforce of up to 10,000 people migrates to build LNG Canada infrastructure.

The committee noted that labour shortages were mentioned in many submissions, with calls from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and others to increase investments in skills training and encourage immigration to boost an aging workforce.

The committee’s recommendations included adding more staff to natural resource ministries to improve permitting, compliance and oversight of industry.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Well-known Port Alberni politician, philanthropist Gillian Trumper has died

Community remembers Trumper as generous to her community, and a groundbreaking politician

Port Alberni cancer patients get new ride to appointments

Qualicum Beach woman donates van to Freemasons’ transportation program

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Courtenay-Alberni candidates address other issues of importance

Other than the topics already discussed, what do you feel is the most important issue in your constituency?

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs improve to 6-0 at home

Bulldogs take down top-ranked Penticton Vees

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read