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.
|Throne Speech brings some goods news, some areas to monitor: BC Chamber
The BC Chamber welcomes some good news announced in last week’s federal Throne Speech, including a notable policy win on credit card regulation. In alignment with the BC Chamber’s credit card policy, the Throne Speech recognized that Canadians deserve to know the real cost to merchants when they pay by debit or credit card. The government will now require credit and debit card providers to disclose the cost of different payment methods to merchants.
Further good news in the Throne Speech includes:
- A commitment to balanced budgets: The federal government will introduce balanced-budget legislation, which will require balanced budgets in normal economic times and concrete timelines for returning to balance in the event of an economic crisis;
- A commitment to reduce debt: The government commits to achieving a debt-to-GDP target of 25 per cent by 2021 and reduce the ratio to pre-recession levels by 2017;
- A commitment to freeze spending: The Throne Speech commits to a freeze of the overall federal operating budget, and to reform of the way the federal system manages spending; and
- A commitment to fight red tape: The federal government will introduce legislation to enshrine the One-for-One law; for every new regulation added, one must be removed.
Other items in the speech that the BC Chamber will be watching closely, and will continue active advocacy on, include:
1.Canada Job Grant: The Throne Speech announced that the government is moving forward with introducing the Canada Job Grant. This training grant has a lot of potential, if designed so that all business sizes can access it, and the BC Chamber will continue active advocacy on this front to convey the needs of B.C. businesses in the implementation of the grant; and
2. Temporary Foreign Workers: The BC Chamber was disappointed to see the government pushing ahead with changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that are causing challenges for B.C. employers and other employers across Canada. The BC Chamber is following up immediately with the federal government to again stress the valuable role temporary foreign workers play in B.C.’s economy and the benefit of a robust temporary foreign worker program to supplement locally-available workers. The BC Chamber will continue active advocacy on this file and push for necessary access to skills and labour to fill critical B.C. jobs.
|Premier releases trade missions schedule
Last week, Premier Christy Clark announced the schedule for her upcoming Jobs and Trade Mission in Asia. The trade mission is designed to open new doors, connect B.C. businesses with Asian demand and promote B.C.’s economy.
Between November 21 and December 3, 2013, the premier will travel to China, Japan and Korea, stopping in Beijing, Chengdu, Seoul, and Tokyo. Throughout the trip, Premier Clark will lead a team focused on promoting the province’s natural gas reserves and supplying clean energy products that create jobs in the province.
This is the Premier’s third major trade mission to Asia.
|Alberta, B.C. premiers release terms of reference for Energy Working Group
Last week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford released
the terms of reference for their joint working group designed to open new energy-export markets. The two premiers have appointed a team of senior bureaucrats to develop an energy export plan.
There are five key areas for the terms of reference, including:
1. Harmonizing marine and land spill response;
2. Ensuring fair fiscal and economic benefits to both provinces;
3. Consulting with First Nations;
4. Exploring resource transportation options; and
5. Increasing public awareness of responsible resource development.
Overall, the working group aims to open new markets, expand export opportunities, create jobs and strengthen both provincial economies through the development of the oil and gas sector. The working group will release a report with recommendations and an action plan by December 31, 2013.
|Survey looks to help small businesses better access government contracts
|A just-launched survey invites small businesses to share ideas on how B.C.’s government can enhance procurement opportunities for this sector.
The survey asks small business owners and operators about experiences selling goods and services to the B.C. government. It also solicits opinions on what government should do to make it easier for small businesses to access procurement opportunities.
The survey was created by B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training through a project called Small Business – Doing Business with Government.
|Poll finds public support for Site C
|A new public opinion poll on the Site C Clean Energy Project (Site C) shows strong levels of support for the proposed hydroelectric project. The poll by Anderson Insight found that:
- A total of 84 per cent of those surveyed provincially either support (42 per cent) or can accept under circumstances (42 per cent) building Site C, while 13 per cent are opposed. The numbers are equally strong in the region, with 81 per cent who support Site C (43 per cent) or can accept it under circumstances (38 per cent), while 17 per cent are opposed.
- Almost 9 in 10 people surveyed (89 per cent provincially, 87 per cent regionally) say they would be comfortable with the Site C project provided that affected communities are properly consulted and their views taken into account as much as possible.
- 86 per cent provincially and 83 per cent regionally would be comfortable with Site C provided that the project completes an extensive, independent environmental review resulting in approval.
The poll found that 78 per cent of those surveyed in the region (north and northeast) are aware of Site C. About four in ten (41 per cent) residents of the province have heard about the proposed dam. There is no statistical difference in support for the proposed project based on awareness levels.
The province-wide telephone poll of 804 people took place between September 3-8, 2013. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The regional poll of 250 people took place between Sept. 26-29, 2013. The regional poll has a margin of error of 6.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The Site C public opinion poll is available online here.