January 11, 2016
The Vancouver Board of Trade is calling on the federal government to invest in transit and trade-enabling projects across the Greater Vancouver region, as part of its pre-budget consultations with the Department of Finance Canada.
Canada’s Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, officially launched the government’s pre-budget consultation process last week, and will be travelling across the country beginning this week to meet with stakeholder groups. The Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of working with the government leading up to the Federal Budget’s release, and this year, submitted a detailed seven-page letter with recommendations on behalf of its 5,000 members across the region.
“We believe that 2016 could be a pivotal year for British Columbia,” says Tim Manning, 2015-16 Chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade. “We are urging the federal government to strategically invest in our province and our region — including air, sea, land, rail and transit infrastructure — in order to help us become the engine of Canada’s economy and capitalize on the explosive growth of the Asia-Pacific region.”
Develop Pacific Gateway infrastructure
The federal government has committed to investing more than $125 billion in infrastructure across the country over the next 10 years. The Vancouver Board of Trade continues to applaud this decision, while encouraging the government to target the funds strategically towards trade-enabling infrastructure in B.C.
“It’s crucial that the government uses the new infrastructure fund to invest in B.C. projects, given our role as Canada’s Pacific Gateway,” says Iain Black, President and CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade. “It has become increasingly apparent that Asian interest in our resources may have a limited time horizon and it is imperative that we not miss the opportunity to take advantage of these markets.”
Key Pacific Gateway projects that The Vancouver Board of Trade want the federal government to support include the George Massey Tunnel Replacement and Highway 99 Corridor improvements, the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, and the Pattullo Bridge Replacement, among others.
Support transit infrastructure
In addition, The Vancouver Board of Trade joins other business and community groups from across the region in calling for federal investments in two key public transit projects: 27 kilometres of LRT in Surrey and Langley, and the Millennium Line extension along the Broadway-UBC corridor.
Both of these projects were key components of the Mayors Plan, which The Vancouver Board of Trade supported tirelessly during its leading role in the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition. In addition, the organization plans to underscore the importance of the above transit and infrastructure projects during its upcoming event with The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Eliminate barriers to trade
The Vancouver Board of Trade is also calling on the new government to implement two key international trade agreements that were negotiated in 2015, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) between Canada and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.
“The TPP is a historic agreement that would greatly reduce or eliminate tariffs and other barriers to international trade, providing Canadian businesses with a myriad of new markets where they can grow their businesses, and in turn, grow our economy,” says Black.
Health transfers, climate policy, and other key priorities
In addition to the priorities outlined above, The Vancouver Board of Trade also outlines a number of other key recommendations to the federal government in its letter.
Some of the organization’s key recommendations include adjusting the Canada Health and Social Transfer (page 4), maintaining tax competitiveness and the ability to attract human capital (page 5), the need to consult the business community on climate policy following COP 21 (page 6) and the importance of controlling government spending and maintaining a prudent debt-to-GDP ratio.
In addition to providing annual recommendations on federal budgets, The Vancouver Board of Trade evaluates the subsequent performance of each budget based on four criteria which reflect the priorities of its members within the Greater Vancouver business community. Once the 2016-17 Budget is released, it will be assessed by The Vancouver Board of Trade’s Government Budget and Finance Committee, and the organization will issue its annual Federal Budget Report Card.
About The Vancouver Board of Trade:
Since its inception in 1887, The Vancouver Board of Trade has been recognized as Pacific Canada's leading business association, engaging members to positively impact public policy at all levels of government and to succeed and prosper in the global economy. With a Membership whose employees comprise one third of B.C.'s workforce, we are the largest business association between Victoria and Toronto. We leverage this collective strength, facilitating networking opportunities, and providing professional development through four unique Signature Programs. In addition, we operate one of the largest events businesses in the country, providing a platform for national and international business and thought leaders to further enlighten B.C.'s business leaders.