24 Feb The Voice: 2016 BC Budget
On February 16th, the BC Liberal Government released its 2016 Budget, reinforcing the province’s strong position in terms of economic performance and fiscal heath.
BC has achieved its fourth consecutive year of a balanced budget, with a surplus of $264 million this year, and is projected to achieve modest surpluses of $287 million in 2017 and $373 million in 2018. The government forecasts GDP growth of 2.4% for this year and 2.3% for next year, keeping them on track to eliminate operating debt of $1.6 billion by 2020 – the last time BC was debt-free was 1975.
It is promising for our technology community to see the government emphasize the importance of knowledge-based sectors in this strategic plan, with a special mention of the significant contributions of the tech industry and its five sub-sectors to the BC economy. The budget mentions the government’s vision for technology in this province is to be a recognized leader in growing innovative tech companies, and for BC to be a destination for tech investment.
That being said, the key announcements pertaining to the technology industry were made in the previously launched #BCTech Strategy, and the budget simply reiterates some of these key elements.
Here are some of the elements in this budget announcement that relate to the technology industry:
Recently, there have been concerns raised by our tech community as it relates to affordability in the lower mainland and its impact on attracting and retaining talent. There are some, albeit modest, measures put into place in the budget that seek to address aspects of this issue:
Other key budget announcements include new investments to support BC families and communities, including $673 million over three years for Ministry of Children and Families and Social Development and Social Innovation; and $3.2 billion over three years for the Ministry of Health.
With the pending election in 2017, there were not a lot of surprises in the budget. The plan continues to support BC’s favoured credit rating and paints an optimistic picture of economic growth, while focusing on debt-reduction. The budget further reinforces the importance of a diversified economy, one that supports industries like technology and knowledge-based industries that advance BC’s innovation agenda.
The full 2016 BC Budget is available online.
We welcome your input to shape our policy framework and grow BC’s technology industry. To provide your feedback or participate in BCTIA’s policy and advocacy efforts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.