March 29, 2023
Your weekly round up of BizNews from throughout Greater Victoria!
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Federal budget sends mixed message to business
The federal government unveiled its 2023 Budget yesterday, offering mixed signals to the business community. The budget comes at a difficult time for economic forecasters. The pandemic is still affecting employers and businesses and global supply chains continue to face stress due to the Russian government's war on Ukraine. With stubbornly high inflation, many people are struggling with affordability and uncertainty about how they can grow their business.

Yesterday's budget committed the government to about $43 billion in new spending over six years, said Canadian Chamber Chief Economist Stephen Tapp.

"While there are many ways to break down these moves, I 'follow the money' to identify five big-ticket categories," Tapp said, pointing to $31 billion for health care, $16 billion for tax credits aimed at spurring investment in a clean economy, and about $25 billion for benefit cheques and other new spending. Tapp also noted that new taxes to high-earners will raise about $14 billion while spending cuts will save another $13 billion.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has advocated for infrastructure projects in our region, including modernization of Belleville Terminal. It's not clear yet if there is money in this budget for that.

"On the one hand, The Chamber is a huge proponent of shifting to a green economy and the opportunities that represents for our members. This budget will offer encouragement to chamber members at the leading edge of this shift," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said, adding that another positive highlight was a promise to lower credit card transaction fees for small businesses. The government says 90% of businesses that take credit cards will see fees go down by 27%.

Still to be determined is how government spending $2.5 billion on relief cheques for lower-income Canadians will affect inflation.

"On the one hand, businesses will be happy customers have a little more money to spend but will it mean costs keep going up? Time will tell," Williams said.
"The rising cost of doing business is a major concern. Food prices are up, and life is getting more expensive for everyone. Inflation is a problem and higher interest rates have increased the cost of borrowing money, which reduces business investment."
RBC report on rental housing shows need for more
A report from RBC shows that Canada's stock of rental housing boomed in 2022, but demand is expected to grow even faster. "Without a significant boost in rental stock, Canada’s rental housing gap could exceed 120,000 by 2026—quadrupling the current deficit," the report says. "This will tip the housing market into a greater state of imbalance and drive the optimal vacancy rate of 3% even further out of reach."

New rental housing is being absorbed by our growing population faster than homes can be built. The report points to increased in-migration and a shift to rental accommodation because of the higher costs of home-ownership.

"The best way to meet current and future demand, as well as provide stability (and hopefully greater affordability) in the rental market is to considerably grow the supply of purpose-built rentals."
RBC Financial Group: Member since 1962
RBC: Chamber Champion since 2022
Residential construction shows signs of slow down
A report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC says that high interest rates are slowing investment in much needed new housing in the province.

"High interest rates are expected to stay and the significant decline in building permits issued across Greater Victoria indicates building investment may weaken significantly in 2023,” LL Brougham Inc. president Lindalee Brougham said in a new release. “Given how important these investments are in terms of providing additional housing and services, and spurring economic growth, it is more important than ever that we foster an environment that attracts more capital to our region.”

A total of 4,787 housing units began construction in Greater Victoria in 2022, down from 4,809 in 2021. Last year was still higher than the average for 2016 to 2020, which was 3,555 units per year.

“Last year, housing activity was strongest in larger developments with many units. And with the high cost of land here, there is a need for density,” noted
Brougham, a Chamber Governor, who served as board chair in 2007. “Another positive investment trend was a strong level of major project construction.”

The estimated value of Greater Victoria's major projects — those that cost more than $15 million — was $14 billion in Q3 2022, up from $13.9 billion in Q3 2021.
Minimum wage increasing for fed regulated sectors
On April 1, the minimum wage is increasing for jobs regulated by the federal government. The new baseline for workers will be $16.65 per hour for industries such as international and interprovincial transportation, telecommunication and banking. In British Columbia, the minimum wage for all other employees is $15.65, and was last raised on June 1, 2022.
How can federal procurement be more inclusive?
Building a more inclusive and diverse network of businesses will strengthen Canada’s economic resilience. On April 4-5, the federal Office of the Procurement Ombudsman hosts a virtual summit to raise awareness of the public and private sector programs that can help small businesses and businesses led by Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, women, Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and additional sexually and gender diverse people (2SLGBTQI+) Canadians, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups access federal contracting opportunities.

Former Gov. Gen Adrienne Clarkson is the keynote speaker. Now in its fifth year, the summit teaches the practical skills needed to win federal contracts. It’s also a chance to build connections with people in government who can help your business. The two-day summit runs from 8 am to 1:30 pm, April 4-5.
Due to overwhelming demand, The Chamber is excited to share that our 2023 Business Awards Gala is now sold out! If you missed out on getting tickets, you can register for the waitlist here.
Thurs., May 4 | 6 - 10 PM
Fairmont Empress - Crystal Ballroom
721 Government St.
Only a few spots left!
Hear from BC’s Minister of Housing Hon. Ravi Kahlon

We invite you to join us for our Annual General Meeting luncheon. Our agenda includes time for networking, a highlight on recent advocacy wins, a report from the Chair and a presentation of the 2022 audited financial statements.
Hear from Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing on BC’s plans to improve housing affordability and decrease chronic homelessness.

The No. 1 expense for workers in Greater Victoria is the cost of their home. We believe all levels of government need to encourage an increase in the supply of private-market housing as well as investing in housing for all — including affordable rental units and non-market housing for working families. 
PocketPills – exclusive access with Chambers Plan
The Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan is offering prescription medication delivery for all Chambers Plan members through PocketPills.

PocketPills is a proudly Canadian online pharmacy and technology company that provides free home delivery for prescription medications — often by the next business day. They also offer direct access to their team of pharmacists by text, live chat, phone or email. And their app allows individuals to manage not only their own prescription needs, but also those of family members.

Plan members are also eligible for an extra 10% drug co-insurance coverage on prescription drugs filled through PocketPills. Get more coverage for the same cost to you and your employees.

Looking for more information on how to use this new benefit? For more than 17 years, RDF Group Ltd has helped Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members design a Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance plan reflecting the size and requirements of their businesses.

For more information, contact Ryan at RDF Group
May Member Networking Breakfast
Start your morning with a business development and community building check mark. Hosted by Revera at their Kensington Retirement Residence, known for the independent, active senior living lifestyle it provides, this breakfast is a must-attend event for Chamber members. It's a great way to learn about services offered by one another and how you can positively contribute to our local business community.
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Business Leaders Luncheon: BC Hydro CEO, Chris O'Riley

BC Hydro’s electrification plan: A clean future powered by water
Join Chris O’Riley, President and CEO of BC Hydro, B.C.’s largest Crown corporation, for an overview of their plan to support British Columbia. in meeting its climate targets. With a focus on climate change and the electrification of more devices, homes, vehicles and industries, find out how BC Hydro is helping their customers—both current and future—make the switch from fossil fuels to clean electricity powered by water to limit their own impact on climate change
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Chamber Chats with CEO Bruce Williams
Prioritizing Healthy Seniors with Berwick Retirement Communities
The model for retirement living has shifted to active living and keeping senior residents healthier than ever before.

In this Chamber Chat, CEO Bruce Williams speaks with Lesley Sikorski of Berwick Retirement Communities, one of the most innovative players in this sector.
Special thanks to our series sponsor: Island Savings
Berwick Retirement Communities: Chamber Champion since 2022
Berwick Retirement Communities: Member since 1970
Showcase your industry on The Chamber’s job board!
Find the best talent in your industry with The Chamber’s job board.

When you post your next job, be sure to add your "industry type" to ensure your job can be found by the right candidates. The list of industry types are constantly being updated, and can be modified to highlight any industry. Don’t see your industry listed? Send us an email!

Also remember to add a specific category for the job in the position title. From Admin and HR to Marketing and Comms positions, you can see all 14 categories here.

If you have any questions or need assistance uploading your job posting, email [email protected]
Member News
Grocers seed fundraising campaign for BC Cancer

A group of local grocers are partnering together for the third year to seed a fundraising campaign, in support of the BC Cancer Foundation. Grocers including Fairway Market, Red Barn Market, Thrifty Foods, and The Root Cellar will donate sales from potted gerbera and cyclamen to help buy diagnostic tools used to develop precise, tailored treatment plans for patients facing head and neck cancer.

Red Barn Market: Member since 2019
Root Cellar Village Green Grocer Ltd: Member since 2011
BC Cancer Foundation – Vancouver Island: Member since 1997
Thrifty Foods: Member since 1981
Fairway Market: Member since 1988
Phillips Backyard festival returns this summer

Phillips Brewing’s Backyard festival returns this summer, with a pair of three-day weekend festivals planned for July and August. Phillips just announced the lineup for both weekends, including four-time Grammy winner Anderson Paak.

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co: Member since 2020
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Pacific Opera launches community initiative

Pacific Opera Victoria has launched an initiative to provide more than 1,000 free tickets to Greater Victoria residents during their 2022/23 productions. With support from 40 community partners, the tickets will be offered to residents who may be experiencing barriers to seeing live performances.
Pacific Opera Victoria: Member since 2007
Victoria HarbourCats give away free funeral

The Victoria HarbourCats return for their 10th year this summer, with a variety of special events and promotions planned for home games throughout the season. On July 30, the HarbourCats are giving away an “end-of-life” package. At a $5,000 value, the package covers the cost of a funeral, will services from Stevenson Doell and an insurance assessment.
Victoria HarbourCats: Member since 2012
Stevenson Doell: Member since 2012
UVic Alumni awarded for achievements

The University of Victoria recently awarded their 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards, celebrating the remarkable achievements and contributions of UVic graduates. Kear Porttris, owner of Porttris Consulting Group, was awarded the Emerging Alumni award, while Lawrence Lewis, founder of One Feather Technologies, was awarded the Indigenous Community Alumni award.

Porttris Consulting Group Ltd: Member since 2022

One Feather Technologies: Member since 2022
University of Victoria: Member since 1976
University of Victoria: Chamber Champion since 2020
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