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.

Just Posted

Military called in to remove inert practice round found in Quesnel industrial park

A maintenance worker mowing the grass found the round, which turned out to no longer be explosive

Ranch Musings: No-till pasture rejuvenation and sivopasture trials

Columnist David Zirnhelt is hosting a field day Aug. 29 in Beaver Valley

Meet Tour de North cyclist Chris Fedoruk

Quesnel man is a community rider with this year’s Cops for Cancer team

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Most Read