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NEWS RELEASE: Pipeline project purchase exposes fundamental flaws in Canada’s regulatory systems – Confidence In Canada

The following news release was issued this morning by the Confidence In Canada coalition, of which ICBA is a key part.

While today’s announcement that the Trans Mountain Pipeline project will move forward in the national interest is encouraging, the recent events and the need for federal taxpayers to purchase this project have exposed fundamental flaws in the regulatory systems at all levels of government. We cannot build confidence in Canada if we continue to allow our country’s economic assets and natural resources to be held hostage by obstructionist governments, misinformation or an inability to uphold the rule of law and project approvals.

While Canada has an opportunity to be an energy supplier to the world, we are developing a reputation as a country which is too complex, too costly and taking too much time to do business. This is particularly damaging when our closest competitors are looking at ways to reduce taxes and ease the regulatory burden facing investors.

As we have said all along, this is about more than a pipeline.

Our regulatory processes are fundamentally broken and continue to create uncertainty for communities, companies, employees, and Indigenous peoples. At risk is the ability to create jobs, attract investment and sustain overall confidence in the Canadian economy among large and small businesses and local and international investors.

The time has come for a national conversation on how we can restore confidence in Canada. Natural resources and permitted sectors have and should continue to drive our economic prosperity, our quality of life and the innovations necessary to create a more sustainable, lower-carbon future. In the coming days, the Confidence in Canada partners from across the country will identify next steps and opportunities to advance the national interest and create certainty for Canada’s economic future.

Quotes:

“The BC government has a lot to answer for in putting Canada in this situation.” Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President and Chief Strategic Officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

“It’s long-overdue good news that Canada will get its resources to tidewater and stop selling to a single customer – but the fact that our federal government had to step in proves there’s still deep uncertainty around investing in Canada. Our nation must take a hard look at itself: The regulatory regime in Canada is broken.”Val Litwin, President and CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce

“This whole exercise has shone a light on what companies have known for years: Canada is too costly, too complex and takes too long to come to a decision and get things done. The system has broken down to the point where taxpayer dollars are required to complete major infrastructure projects that support our collective prosperity when there have been willing private sector, tax-paying investors. This is no way to operate in a globally competitive world and expect to maintain our quality of life.” Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia

“In less than a year on the job, John Horgan has ripped-up approval of the Trans Mountain project; created a constitutional crisis; started a trade war with B.C.’s closest neighbor; sent a chilling message to investors that Canada does not respect the process or the law; and, forced Ottawa to spend $4.5 billion taxpayer dollars to build a project that the private sector was more than willing to deliver.” Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

“Although we are pleased this project of national significance is forging ahead, government intervention should not have been necessary for a project that was already federally approved. This is not a great day for Canada’s reputation on the international investment front. While we are going to save the vital pipeline and the thousands of jobs that come with it, today’s decision highlights how much damage has been done to our international reputation. The job ahead of us now is to rebuild Confidence in Canada.”- Iain Black, President and CEO, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

The letter signed by 114 business, labour and municipal organizations from across the country expressing support for restoring #ConfidenceinCanada is available here.

NEWS RELEASE: Horgan’s Reckless Approach to Pipeline to Cost Taxpayers Billions

BURNABY – Today’s announcement that the federal government will purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will save the vital pipeline and thousands of jobs that come with it, but it highlights how damaging the actions of Premier John Horgan and the B.C. NDP Government have been to Canada, said the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) today.

“This really is a sad day for Canada, and Premier Horgan is squarely to blame,” said Chris Gardner, president of ICBA. “In less than a year on the job, John Horgan has ripped-up the approval of the Trans Mountain project; created a constitutional crisis; started a trade war with B.C.’s closest neighbour; sent a chilling message to investors that Canada does not respect the rule of law; and forced Ottawa to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build a project that the private sector was more than willing to deliver.”

ICBA has long supported the Trans Mountain project and the 15,000 construction jobs it will create. ICBA’s #Get2Yes campaign in the past five weeks generated nearly 4,000 emails of support for the pipeline and has strongly supported the #ConfidenceInCanada coalition.

“John Horgan has forced Canada to nationalize a project that a private company was willing to build,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA communications director. “Kinder Morgan did everything right – years of consultation, deals with every First Nation along its route, securing every regulatory and government approval required in BC and Canada, winning 16 straight court victories, and building strong majority support in B.C. But none of this was good enough for a premier who, irresponsible in the pursuit of power, only cares about holding on to the Green Party’s three votes in the Legislature.”

Today’s decision reinforces the difficulty private companies are having in navigating Canada’s exceedingly complex regulatory processes and professional protestors.

“It’s hard to imagine proponents of major infrastructure and responsible resource development projects taking any comfort from today’s announcement,” said Gardner. “Investment is fleeing Canada and commentators are saying ‘Canada is a laughing stock’ – this will simply accelerate that capital flight, taking with it opportunity, talent and jobs for Canadians.”

NEWS RELEASE: Survey finds small businesses will bear the brunt of B.C.’s new Employer Health Payroll Tax

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Today, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) released an independent survey of business owners on the impacts of the B.C. government’s new Employer Health Payroll Tax, which was unveiled in BC Budget 2018-19 in February.

According to our survey results, small- and medium-sized businesses will bear the brunt of the new Employer Health Payroll Tax. The survey — conducted by Mustel Group between March 21 and April 4, 2018 — consisted of an association member sample of both organizations.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are defined as small businesses in British Columbia. Those with payrolls of $500,000 or higher will be subject to the Employer Health Payroll Tax, which takes effect on January 1, 2019.

Many of our members are established businesses who employ British Columbians in the Greater Vancouver area and around the province, creating jobs and contributing to their communities. More than 60 per cent of our respondents who are small businesses expect to pay the tax. Among the overall membership of our organizations, 75 per cent say they have payrolls exceeding $500,000 and will be affected by the tax.

In response to the new Employer Health Payroll Tax and in the face of rising taxes and operating costs, our member businesses clearly tell us they will take a variety of measures, including reducing staff and/or reduce benefits.

Key findings include:

  • 61 per cent of our member businesses with fewer than 50 employees will pay the tax.
  • 36 per cent of our member businesses with fewer than 50 employees presently pay MSP premiums on behalf of their employees. They will be “double-taxed” for one full year, since the Employer Health Payroll Tax takes effect January 1, 2019, but MSP premiums do not end until December 31, 2019.
  • 49 per cent of association members who meet the $500,000 payroll threshold will experience this “double-taxation” through 2019.
  • 64 per cent of our member businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not presently pay their employees’ MSP premiums, but will be required to budget and pay for a brand new tax when it takes effect January 1, 2019, while their employees will still be paying MSP.
  • The average annual payroll tax bill reported by respondents to our association member survey is $157,233.
  • For the 51 per cent of member businesses currently not paying MSP premiums that will now have to, the additional tax will be an average of almost $135,000. Businesses with less than 50 employees will pay an average of almost $55,000 more per year. This is a new cost to those businesses.
  • For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, the anticipated average annual tax bill is $40,040. The median for member businesses under 50 employees is $10,000.
  • 28 per cent of our member businesses said they expect to reduce employee benefits because of the tax and the increased cost to their business.
  • 24 per cent said they expect to reduce staff. When you isolate businesses with fewer than 50 employees, that number increases to 30 per cent.

Iain Black, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade said, “The survey results today confirm what we have heard from our Members since the B.C. Budget was announced: this unexpected payroll tax will hit small- and medium-sized businesses hard. The fact that this is a tax on the amount of an organization’s overall payroll — before other taxes and any profits — eliminates any option for a business to plan for a lean year.”

Chris Gardner, President and CEO of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association said, “Payroll taxes are job-killers, as they increase the cost of employing people and growing businesses. When you add it to the NDP’s carbon, income and other tax increases, record-high gas prices, cities passing along their own payroll tax costs through higher property taxes, and shaken investor confidence in B.C., it’s perfectly understandable that job creators are reeling. The BC NDP must rethink this tax.”

About the survey:

The member association survey was conducted online between March 21, and April 4, 2018.

The small proportion of respondents (9 per cent) who identified as self-employed or sole proprietors was excluded from the payroll tax and MSP premium calculations.

The survey was conducted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association in partnership with the B.C. Tourism Industry Association and B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

TRAINING THURSDAY: How To Be A Better Foreman

Becoming a foreman is an important step on the career ladder in the trades, but it can be a hard transition if you haven’t been properly trained! Our How To Be A Better Foreman course is here to help give you the tools you need to succeed in your role.

You’ll learn the fundamentals of field leadership, organization, crew morale, efficiency and productivity in our one-day course. Here’s what’s covered:

  • Understanding why and how many foremen fail
  • How the foreman’s role has changed
  • Dealing with workplace conflict without being a jerk
  • Learning how to anticipate production and jobsite issues
  • Understanding general and subcontractor dynamics
  • Understanding your role as a leader
  • Understand how you play a major role in increasing jobsite productivity

You’ll also earn 7.5 Group A CPD Points from BC Housing, and 1 Gold Seal Credit!

We’re offering the course in Victoria and Burnaby in June; we often fill the course so don’t procrastinate in signing up! For more information on these courses and others, or to register, visit www.icba.ca/training.

 

IN THE NEWS: Wallace Gives Fair and Balanced Look at America During ICBA Outlook Forum

The following story on the 2018 ICBA Outlook Forum first ran in the Journal of Commerce on May 24, 2018.

One of the biggest stars on Fox News recently gave Vancouver’s construction industry insights on where America has been and where it’s going, as seen through the lens of a broadcast career spanning decades.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace was the guest at the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s Outlook Forum, which was held recently in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver developer Bob Rennie held a wide-ranging interview with Wallace covering the current American political climate and the anchor’s own anxieties when hosting the third and final presidential debate in October 2016.

“You see Melania at one end of the room, and Bill and Chelsea at the other, and it’s pretty freaky,” Wallace said. “But after about five minutes I figured ‘I can handle this.’ ”

Current events don’t affect how Wallace frames his questions, he said.

While at the time of the presidential debate he moderated Donald Trump was at one of his roughest patches and Hillary Clinton widely touted to win, Wallace said he wanted to avoid what he regarded as the “silly questions” of previous debates.

“My feeling was I’m not going to pile on. I’m like a cop on the beat with a night stick. I’m just trying to keep everyone honest,” Wallace said.

One of the jobs of any interviewer, whether the interview subject is a Democrat or Republican, is to get them off their carefully prepared scripts, he added.

“But the flip side is that they can throw hardballs back at you, and you just have to take it,” Wallace said.

One of the main reasons Clinton lost the election, Wallace stated, was that she struggled to appear authentic, while Trump was able to convey he understood globalization had created both winners and losers.

“Trump brought some considerable appeal to millions of voters, and Clinton didn’t. Part of that was that she had eight-point programs for every problem, but no solutions. If she’d come across as more authentic, I don’t know if it would have affected the polls, but it might have helped her,” Wallace said.

Regarding the surprise shift to Trump by part of the American electorate, Wallace said the news media, when caught flat-footed having misjudged the mood of the public, has to recalibrate so they don’t get flat-footed again.

But the split in the American electorate and between its representatives in Congress and the Senate pre-dates Trump’s election, he said. Wallace arrived in Washington in 1978 and said the changes since then have not been for the better.

“In the 1970s legislators tried to compromise and that has withered over the course of the last 40 years,” Wallace said.

Gerrymandering is one of the reasons for this change, he said, and as a congressman in a reliably red or blue area you have “absolutely no impetus whatsoever” for compromise.

But media is also to blame for America’s current polarization, he said, with Americans increasingly “in a separate universe” regarding facts, with almost no opportunity for compromise over important issues.

Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both tried to reach across the aisle and before 9-11 George Bush tried to work with the Democrats, he added.

“But there hasn’t been much since then, and I include Obama in that. Had he reached out to Republicans he could have picked up the more moderate ones, but in the height of the Great Recession he turned it over to Nancy Pelosi, and I think that was a huge mistake,” Wallace said.
Turning to Canada, Wallace said he thinks North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations won’t conclude until next year.

“Canada is the most stable position right now; Mexico is currently going through elections where NAFTA is an issue, and the U.S. has midterms where the last things Republicans fighting for their lives are going to want is a wild card like NAFTA as an issue,” Wallace said.

IN THE NEWS: Canada’s energy sector is being left behind: Brad Wall

The following piece about ICBA’s 2018 Industry Outlook Forum first ran in the Journal of Commerce on May 23, 2018.

The former premier of Saskatchewan is concerned Canada’s energy sector is being held back and left behind.

Brad Wall presented at the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia’s 2018 Industry Outlook on May 16 in downtown Vancouver.

He spoke to the current state of Canada’s energy industry, which he said has until recently not been helped by government action at either the federal or provincial level.

“In a time where federal and provincial governments should have followed the policy of ‘do no harm’ due to low energy prices, the government has done the opposite,” Wall said, citing B.C. Premier John Horgan’s opposition of the Trans Mountain pipeline project as well as the federal carbon tax.

In contrast to Canada, Wall said, the U.S. has increased exports and “they are our only customer and number one competitor.”

The federal government’s hewing to environmental protocols such as the Paris Agreement while the Donald Trump administration has walked away from the same restrictions will also affect Canada’s competitiveness, he said.

“We’ve hard wired a carbon tax into our energy sector, and the U.S. has gone the opposite way,” he added.

Wall was optimistic about a recent decision by the federal government to compensate Kinder Morgan or any other entity that will complete the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite opposition from British Columbia.

“It’s an indication that the feds are prepared to act, and for those of us who want the pipeline built, we should acknowledge this is a priority for them,” Wall said.

But the former premier expressed concern that while the government has shown it will act, there are other options available that don’t involve taxpayer money.

“Before you take the fairly extreme position of using taxpayer dollars to mitigate the risks caused by the province of B.C. to this pipeline company, how about use other points of leverage like transfer payments or funding from the feds being withheld until that approval is granted,” he said.

Wall said he respected and appreciated the wishes of British Columbians who want to protect their coast, but stressed the importance of completion of the project.

“They care about the environment; we all do. But this is an expansion of an existing pipeline and it has gone through all the approval processes to address some of those concerns, so I’m surprised that it’s come to this, and this is really the only pipeline we’re left with,” he stated.

“From an emissions perspective, if the oil doesn’t come from Alberta or Saskatchewan and get to the coast and then is sold around the world, will that reduce the amount of emissions in the world or the amount of oil sold in the world? Of course not.”

In the absence of Canadian oil supply, he added, bad actors may fill the void.

“Worldwide oil demand is forecast to grow significantly over the next number of years, and if Canada isn’t supplying it to the world because we can’t get it to market, Saudi Arabia will, Nigeria will, Venezuela will, and I promise you they care less about the environment than Canada does, and have a checkered history regarding the rule of law and human rights,” Wall claimed.

But he said several factors could decide the fate of the Canadian energy sector in the near future, including upcoming elections in Ontario and Alberta, the possible resolution of the Trans Mountain issue, equalization payments this year and in 2019, and a federal election in 18 months.

Wall also said in order for the federal government to back down on carbon taxes, there are two options.

“There are two sources for relief: the courts, and the other, a sure remedy, is a federal election,” Wall said.