BC Budget 2019

February 19, 2019

Today, the BC NDP Government released its 2019 budget on the theme “Making life better” – a worthy goal for any government.

The big stories this year were $20B in capital infrastructure investment and $902M in funding over three years to implement the CleanBC climate plan.  Continuing last year’s theme there were several measures to tackle affordability and opportunity for all including a new BC Child Opportunity Benefit, funding for Adult Basic and English Language education, a wide range of investments in the Health sector and a historic revenue-sharing agreement with First Nations.

Highlights for the Tech sector included:

  • Significant enhancements to the Angel Tax Credit program, doubling the tax credit limit for individuals to $120k and the maximum funding available for eligible business corporations to $10M and permitting eligible companies to engage in scale-up activities
  • This budget confirmed a previous cut in the small business corporate income tax rate from 2.5% to 2% which benefits many startup and growth tech companies
  • Accelerated tax deductions for investments in machinery and equipment which will benefit many growing and scaling tech companies
  • $50M invested in high speed internet to benefit rural and remote economies – connectivity is an essential if people across the province are to benefit from the tech and innovation economy
  • The elimination of interest on student loan debt – which will lower the cost of education and training. This comes on the heels of last year’s Budget announcement of funding for an additional 1000 tech-relevant graduates and is a clear indicator of this government’s seriousness about putting access to education and training at the heart of its agenda.

At BC Tech we welcome a balanced budget which delivers important incremental measures that will improve the lives of British Columbians today.  But as we commented last year, a budget for BC’s future needs serious investment in the innovation and technology economy.

BC’s business community knows well that technology is transforming every industry and soon every company will be a tech company. This understanding is now gaining ground in government, along with an appetite for seizing the economic opportunity it represents. Other natural-resource-rich economies such as Australia and Norway have done far better than British Columbia at leveraging their local tech industry to ramp up the efficiency, growth and GDP contribution of their traditional industries with locally sourced innovation. There is growing interest in what BC can learn from elsewhere to better harness our powerful tech and innovation engine to deliver more value across the economy, building economic resilience and diversity.  And there is growing support for ensuring that BC’s tech and innovation sector is not held back by limiting factors like a shortage of talent or an environment that could better support scale success.

It is in that context that BC Tech developed our new policy recommendations released earlier this month. Our 11 recommendations amount to a transformation agenda to unlock a $25B economic opportunity through targeted investments in talent and scale.  We were delighted to see recommended changes in the Angel Tax credit implemented in Budget 2019. Our other recommendations are the start of a longer conversation we look forward to having with government over the coming months with a view to implementation in Budget 2020. Our objective is to put technology and innovation at the heart of British Columbia’s economic policy for the next five, 10 and 20 years.

-Jill Tipping, President & CEO of BC Tech