Budget 2022 is B.C.’s chance to step into the 21st century economy
By Tessa Seager, CCI B.C. Director of Government Affairs
As we await the province’s long-promised economic plan, the B.C. government is also set to release Budget 2022 on February 22nd. Here are four things CCI will be looking for when Finance Minister Selina Robinson tables her second budget:
1. A tangible talent strategy
At CCI, we often talk about intangibles — patents, software, and data. But this budget cycle, we’re looking for something tangible: a real, concrete strategy to address the tech talent shortage, today’s number one issue facing B.C.’s innovative companies.
We know the solution to addressing B.C.’s talent shortage will be multi-pronged and that government, industry, and post-secondary partners will need to implement creative, multi-faceted solutions. Along with the standard investments in post-secondary institutions and hiring grants, CCI has proposed that the province introduce financial incentives for Canadian companies creating and launching their own micro-credential programs; promote employment at homegrown firms over multi-nationals (e.g. partial forgiveness of student loans for new graduates accepting jobs with B.C.-based companies); and encourage the federal government to pilot a High Potential Tech Visa modeled off of the United Kingdom. And, more than ever, proposals to address the talent crunch need to consider an employee’s full decision-making matrix: think childcare, affordable housing, and even climate resilience.
2. Investments in biotech and life sciences
B.C. is home to the fastest growing life sciences sector in Canada. Prime examples include two of CCI’s member companies, AbCellera and Stemcell Technologies, both of which saw incredible progress in 2021. But to build on the successes of the past year, the B.C. government needs to prioritize the sector. This requires targeted investments into GMP facilities and lab spaces; modernized and streamlined regulatory systems; a provincial intellectual property strategy; a focus on further local IP development towards the commercialization of therapies; and funding for the training and development of much-needed talent.
3. A competitive tax ecosystem
For B.C. to remain competitive, we need companies to want to stay and grow in the province. While many like to (half-jokingly) point to the mountains and our oceans as our main selling point, even more appealing would be a competitive (and predictable) tax ecosystem. Given how global tech companies are, and the ease with which they can jurisdiction-shop, we cannot wish away the very real impacts of an unfavourable tax environment. To that end, CCI has recommended that B.C. expand the use of ‘flow-through shares’ to the technology sector, maintain and expand The Small Business Venture Capital Program, and implement a Patent Box regime.
4. Movement on a provincial intellectual property (IP) strategy
To build a strong innovation economy, the government needs a strategy that both incentivizes our domestic technology companies to create IP and establishes the frameworks to keep publicly funded IP benefiting the domestic economy. That’s why, in 2020, CCI was encouraged to see this NDP government campaign on a promise to develop and implement a provincial IP strategy. In Budget 2022, we’ll be looking for meaningful action to advance this mandate.
Budget 2022 is a prime opportunity for the government to introduce a new policy vision that will position B.C. for sustained growth and prosperity in the 21st century knowledge-based economy. On behalf of innovators from across this province, we’re eagerly awaiting to see what Premier Horgan and Minister Robinson deliver!
On February 23 at 9:30 AM PT, CCI will be hosting a post-budget debrief event for the Canadian tech ecosystem. Join us by registering here!