B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announces formation of a new Crown corporation called InBC to manage $500 million in public funds to help startup companies expand, B.C. legislature, April 27, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announces formation of a new Crown corporation called InBC to manage $500 million in public funds to help startup companies expand, B.C. legislature, April 27, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

Opposition questions B.C.’s ‘people-planet-profit’ investment fund

Low investment returns, high tax rates for entrepreneurs cited

Despite a deficit of nearly $10 billion this year, the B.C. government has devoted a half billion dollars over three years to an Crown corporation investment fund with a broad range of goals: homegrown technology companies, high-paying jobs, a cleaner environment, promoting diversity and advancing Indigenous reconciliation.

B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon calls InBC a “people-planet-profit” investment fund, offering “patient capital” to help startups expand rather than be bought up by international players. The investment fund was promised in Premier John Horgan’s “StrongerBC” economic recovery plan, launched last fall days before a surprise election call.

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone, who founded a Kamloops software company before he was elected as an MLA, questioned Kahlon this week about B.C.’s competitiveness for attracting and retaining entrepreneurs and skilled workers, including tax rates on high earners.

“When the facts are that a software developer earns $27,000 less in British Columbia than they do in Ontario to start with, when we’re staring down lower income tax rates next door in Alberta — when we’re staring down no income tax in the state of Washington…. These are all our competitors,” Stone told the B.C. legislature May 18.

B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen questioned Kahlon on the need for “strategic capital” that isn’t looking for a quick return. Olsen agreed with Stone that the COVID-19 pandemic put investment on hold around the world, and asked if now is the time for “putting $500 million of public money into a space that has billions and billions of dollars of private capital looking to be spent.”

RELATED: B.C. launches $500M fund to support green business

RELATED: Horgan calls for private investment at B.C. Tech Summit

Kahlon said the fund is to assist companies to grow without being taken over and leaving B.C. to expand. “We’ve heard the most amount of excitement from the clean tech sector, which sees an opportunity for them to access capital and stay here in British Columbia,” he said.

When InBC was launched April 27, the ministry said its target was a modest annual return of five per cent on public money invested. A board of directors has since been appointed, chaired by VanCity CEO Christine Bergeron and including former finance minister Carole James, Susan Trottier, vice president of First Nations Bank Trust, and Iglika Ivanova, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Deputy jobs minister Bobbi Plecas and deputy finance minister Heather Wood are also directors, with a chief investment officer to be appointed this fall.

The NDP government created InBC by converting a dormant Crown corporation started by the previous B.C. Liberal administration in 2001, called the B.C. Immigrant Investment Fund. Its purpose was to receive federal money from its immigrant investor program to make low-interest loans for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, and Ottawa ended that program in 2014.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

Craft Brewing and Malting program student Ellie Hadley plans to use her newfound skills and knowledge to set up a distillery in Port Alberni. (PHOTO COURTESY LEE SIMMONS)
Something’s brewing with North Island College’s newest program

Port Alberni grad Ellie Hadley hopes to turn new skills into thriving business

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read