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

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Most Read