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

Eighteen unattended cannabis plants discovered near Saanich trail

Plants cannot legally be grown in public spaces

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

One man in hospital with severe injuries after small fire in Victoria apartment building

Man was found by firefighters responding to multiple 911 calls about smoke on third floor

Area residents concerned about aftermath of McKenzie interchange construction

Ministry says neighbours’ concerns being heard, will be addressed

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Most Read