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February 22, 2016
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Chambers applaud fourth consecutive balanced budget
Chambers of Commerce from across the province have welcomed B.C.’s fourth consecutive balanced budget. The 2016 budget combines on-going fiscal discipline, including a continued focus on repaying operating debt and a number of forward-looking initiatives strongly advocated for by the BC Chamber network, such as the creation of a Tax Competitiveness Commission and the BC Prosperity Fund, to support future economic growth.

“While this budget is anything but flashy, the Chamber is pleased the government heeded our advice and is implementing strong forward-looking initiatives, such as the Commission on Tax Competitiveness, which will give additional fiscal flexibility to deal with challenges facing business like tax competitiveness,” said Jon Garson, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

“This commission is timely because we need to start looking at broader tax reforms and not only further tax reductions,” he added.

Temporary Foreign Workers Program under review
Federal Minister of Employment MaryAnn Mihychuk will ask a parliamentary committee to review the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

“I have heard from businesses, from worker advocates, members of Parliament and others across Canada that the temporary foreign worker system needs to change,” Minister Mihychuk said.

Under the last set of reforms brought in by the former Conservative government, regions with unemployment rates over six per cent were barred from hiring temporary foreign workers.

B.C.’s first female First Nations MLA takes her seat
Melanie Mark was sworn in last week as the new MLA for the riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, becoming the province’s first female aboriginal Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Mark, who grew up in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and was the child of a mother who fought alcoholism and a father who died of an overdose, credits “warrior strength” for being able to overcome adversity. Mark joined John Horgan’s BC NDP Caucus, along with Jodie Wickens, winner of the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by-election.