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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

Nelson skateboarders charged with assaulting Trail police officer

Incident happened at the skate park in Trail

RDCK closes all indoor recreational facilities until at least August 18

The district said closures are necessary to meet financial plan and to deliver safe programming

Flooding: Why the RDCK ordered hundreds of properties evacuated

All evacuation orders have now been rescinded

Broadwater Road residents allowed to return home after evacuation order

Area near Castlegar evacuated due to flooding risk

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read