What B.C. business organizations and communities are saying about the 2023 federal budget

There were a wide range of opinions on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's latest budget announcement.

Credit: Chrystia Freeland on Twitter

There were a wide range of opinions on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s latest budget announcement

It can be difficult to accurately contextualize the impact federal budgets can have across a variety of sectors. That’s why we at BCBusiness thought that we’d let those various associations and organizations have their own say by riffling through our inbox and digging up the feedback we got.  

Let’s start with the positive and work our way down.  

High marks  

Life Sciences BC 

The non-profit industry association was happy to see $197.7 million earmarked for the Student Work Placement Program, which is thinks will “help address the shortage of 65,000 workers needed to sustain Canada’s biotech and healthcare sectors.”  

Mixed reaction 

Burnaby Board of Trade 

Like many business associations, the BBOT simply didn’t think there was enough in the budget to help businesses. It did, however, applaud some of the other initiatives on offer.  

“A clear economic path forward that can counter the stubbornly high cost of doing business today is a clear miss in this year’s budget,” said BBOT president and CEO Paul Holden.

“Our members are very supportive of investing in supply chain resiliency, skills and training and combatting the costly effects of climate change through innovation in clean growth technology, but we can’t lose sight that private sector-led growth fuelled by a competitive, sustainable tax structure and further investments in foreign credential recognition to attract workers from around the world will unlock the full potential of businesses and workers alike.” 

BC Chamber of Commerce 

The Chamber took a similar tact to the BBOT.  

The BC Chamber of Commerce welcomes the federal government’s sizable investment in green energy and continued support for the development of critical minerals through the introduction of the tax credit,” said Chamber president and CEO Fiona Famulak, before changing tune.

“We would like to have seen the federal budget attach a higher priority to enacting changes that encourage economic growth…measures to reduce the ever-increasing costs shouldered by small- and medium-sized companies that are the backbone of our economy. We are concerned, as are our members, about the larger than forecasted deficits and the prospect of tax increases at a time when economic turbulence and a mild recession are expected.” 

Surrey Board of Trade

“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased to hear about investments in hydrogen, supply chain, skills and labour, infrastructure, and transportation,” said Anita Huberman, president and CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, in a release. “We needed to hear more support for business, including a commitment to a comprehensive tax review.”

The organization was disappointed that no Surrey-specific projects were addressed in the budget. “Surrey is going to be the largest city in British Columbia and is starved of infrastructure and transportation investments. We also have the greatest number of manufacturers in B.C. and would be a prime location for battery manufacturers and recyclers,” added Huberman. 

Not feeling it 

Business Council of BC 

Excluding the Canadian Taxpayers Association, the BCBC was about as down on the budget as any organization nationally or federally.  

“Apart from several measures to bolster clean tech and clean energy development, there is nothing that will arrest the decline in Canadian per capita economic growth, fix our poor productivity growth record, or help attract capital investment generally,” read the BCBC’s release.  

Added BCBC chief economist Ken Peacock: “We are concerned about Canada’s weak growth profile and the fact that this budget does little to support business investment, address Canada’s productivity malaise or boost potential per capita economic growth…Middle-class Canadians are staring down the barrel of eight years of no growth in real per capita incomes.”