Development, investment projects key once B.C. starts lifting COVID-19 restrictions: report

Artist Lukas Lundberg touches up a painting of Spiderman depicted as a paramedic while working on a painting of Wonder Woman as a doctor, on the boarded up windows of a closed Gastown business, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Business Council of B.C. says once it’s decided it is safe to start opening up again, first on the agenda will be to accelerate development and investment projects to kick-start economic and job growth.

In a report to the Surrey Board of Trade, Jock Finlayson with the B.C. Business Council says residential development projects, maintenance and repair of public sector capital assets and infrastructure and investments across all industries will be key to getting the economy moving again.

Finlayson also says B.C. looks to be in a better position than some other provinces and U.S. states based on infection rates and the extent of business closures.

However, he says years of job growth in B.C. will be “erased” this year.

B.C. employment estimates from Surrey Board of Trade presentation. Stats Canada

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Last month, the B.C. economy lost 132,000 jobs, sending the unemployment rate up to 7.2 per cent. The business council forecasts perhaps twice that much in April.

Globally, Finlayson says, the economy is headed for a sharp, but hopefully temporary, recession.

Looking at business-support measures once restrictions start lifting, Finlayson’s report found that businesses want reduced tax rates in order to help them stay open and profitable.

Close second, businesses want to see a deferment, delay or cancellation of planned legislative and regulatory changes, followed by direct support to B.C.’s hardest-hit industries.

Those include air transportation, accommodation facilities, retail, film and television production and entertainment, leisure and recreation services.

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– with a file from Aaron McArthur

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