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Social Policy

Businesses thrive in a community that is healthy, safe, clean, and has attractive amenities. Such an environment attracts customers and clients, it encourages employees to come and raise a family, it is welcoming and diverse. These “hard to measure” intangibles that provide value to a way of living and doing business in a thriving, growing city such as Surrey, are the focus of the Social Policy Team. Members have tackled very non-traditional issues such as children and families, homelessness, poverty, public safety, health care, and the integration of marginalized people — all through a business lens — to ensure that all benefit from a strong economy.

Terms of Reference

For further information or to join, contact Policy & Research Manager, Anne Peterson, or Policy Coordinator, Jasroop Gosal.


Resources & Presentations

These are for information and may not reflect the official positions or policies of Surrey Board of Trade.

SBOT Cyber Crime Position

PwC Economic Fraud Report
PwC Economic Fraud Powerpoint

Board Voice Report: There is a Better Way

BC Labour Market Report 2017

Cyber Crime Information #1 – BDO

Cyber Crime Information #2 – New York Institute of Technology

City of Surrey Presentation – Public Safety

SBOT Report: Education Today – Productivity Tomorrow


Community Partnerships

Surrey Local Immigration Partnership

Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade is the Co-Chair of Surrey’s Local Immigration Partnership Table with City of Surrey Councillor Judy Villeneuve. Given that over half of Surrey’s population has a mother tongue other than English and that we are the #1 destination for refugees in BC, having the Surrey Board of Trade as an active part of our immigrant human capital strategy is essential. Please find an overview of our work from 2014-2016, and our strategy from 2016-2019. I thought this may be useful to you.

1. Surrey Immigrant Integration Strategy 2016-2019
The Strategy has been presented to and adopted by City Council on May 30 2016. The three year Strategy has five Strategic Directions: Accessible Services, Engaged Community, Meaningful Employment, Thriving Youth, and Sustainable Leadership.

2. Surrey Local Immigration Partnership Progress Report 2014-2016
The Surrey LIP Progress Report was released in June 2016 and provides an overview of the Surrey LIP activities from its 2014 inception to April 2016 and the release    of the Strategy and Action Plan. The Report includes a section, which describes how LIP goals and objectives are achieved through its activities.

3. South Asian Health Report
Read the FULL Report, or the Executive Summary

4. Surrey Refugee Plan Report – July 2017


Issues

The Issue: Continuum of Affordable Housing for Workers

The BC and Federal governments announced numerous programs and included in their budgets the means to address affordable housing. A mix of incentives, investments, and tools have been suggested which aligned with the intent of previous BC Chamber policies. What is required, however, is to ensure that the programs not only align with each other, but also addresses a continuum of housing needs, particularly for the modest to middle income earners in challenging housing markets.

This policy was recently adopted by the BC Chamber of Commerce members at the 2018 AGM.

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Background
In a study done by Vancity[i], the cost of housing was determined to inhibit young workers from coming or staying in the greater Vancouver region. Similar studies have pointed out that the rise of real estate values is greatly outpacing incomes and the gap is growing. Very few workers receive salary increases of 10-20% per year. In fact, Vancity’s findings are that salary growth is slowing with the past five years averaging 1.3%. This, claims Vancity, is why Millenials are exiting the Lower Mainland labour market for greener pastures where employment and housing opportunities co-exist. It may also deter in-migration and immigration of skilled workers to locations where skills are required.

There is a gap in the upper-low income and mid-range incomes for rental accommodation. For example, the Lower Mainland’s current median income is $63,000 (most renters fall under the median[ii]), with the median income of a census family in Vancouver at $79,930[iii] for 2015. An average 2-bedroom suite is $1,552[iv] requiring an after tax income of $55,872 in Vancouver. The problem is not affordability for Vancity’s list of skilled workers, it is a deficit of mid-range lightly subsidized to full market rental units. There is opportunity for developers to reach this market.

The Federal government recently announced the National Housing Strategy[v], which outlines a number of strategies to provide affordable housing.[vi] However, the funds for the $4 billion Canada Housing Benefit, in partnership with provincial and territories’ governments, won’t be available until 2020, and it will focus on lower income earners and social support housing. Further, the Federal Budget proposed to increase the amount of loans provided by the Rental Construction Financing Initiative from $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion over the next three years. This, they anticipate, will support the construction of more than 14,000 new modest to middle income units across Canada. The Federal government also proposes to provide $113.6 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to expand the Rental Construction Financing Initiative.[vii]

While the federal loans are laudable (and long overdue), the focus of investments are at the social to low-income rentals. The recent BC Budget proposed a 30 point plan for housing affordability, likewise focusing on the lower income renters, with some acknowledgement of development through their HousingHub – a collaborative effort across governments and other stakeholders. Part of the plan is to define the problem of housing with a $5Million, 3 year assessment by local governments housing needs. Again, these are laudable proposals. However, as pointed out, there is a ready market of middle- to upper income earners who are seeking rental units. If there is not a continuum of rental units from supportive, through to market, the demand will continue to cause rapid increases in rent on the few units that are available. Therefore, to provide developers with the tools they need to address this market, a range of tax incentive programs, such as DCCs, property tax, income tax, and capital gains tax incentives, in conjunction with other levers, should be implemented to foster innovative development.

The Strata Suggestion
In Vancouver, according to a report released in 2017[viii], there are over 25,000 unoccupied homes (or had temporary occupants), and of those, 8,500 registered for the city’s Empty Homes Tax[ix]. There is speculation on how many more will receive a tax bill due mid-April. Other cities, particularly urban centres that have numerous condo developments are likely to find many are vacant for much of the year.

With rental rates in urban areas experiencing an all time low,[x] there is pressure on the provincial and local governments to find ways of opening up these spaces for long-term rent. Vancouver has developed the Empty Homes Tax as a disincentive to owners; however, nowhere does it mention one of the biggest barriers to converting these properties to rentals – strata by-laws that prohibit renting properties to non-immediate family members.

Chapter 43, Part 8 of the Strata Property Act outlines rental restrictions that apply to condominium developments. Of particular note is section 141, which reads in part:
(2) The strata corporation may only restrict the rental of a strata lot by a bylaw that
(a) prohibits the rental of residential strata lots, or
(b) limits one or more of the following:
(i) the number or percentage of residential strata lots that may be rented;
(ii) the period of time for which residential strata lots may be rented.

The limitation is that the strata corporation cannot restrict an immediate family member from renting a unit, or it cannot restrict rental arrangements for units rented prior to the incorporation of a strata within one year of the unit’s construction.

Most condominium complexes restrict rental units, from an outright ban (with the above exceptions) to allowing only so many units to be rented at any one time. With the current emphasis on having owners rent their vacant properties, some consideration is required to assist in that effort prior to applying punishing speculative taxes on BC owners.

The BC and Federal governments have made great strides forward in putting programs and investments in place to begin to address housing needs for those who are not able to purchase a home. Homes are required for those without a place through to those who can afford, but are challenged by a very low rental rate. Without that continuum of housing options, the pressures on any rental unit will continue to cause high rents and low vacancy rates.

The Surrey Board of Trade recommends that the Provincial Government:
1.    Not wait for the completion of a 3 year study of housing needs assessment by local governments to provide tax incentives for developers to build purpose built market rental housing for workers, and
2.    Review Part 8 of the Strata legislation with a view to loosening rental restrictions to free up vacant properties for long-term rent.

References
[I] Vancity, May 2015.Help wanted: salaries, affordability and the exodus of labour from Metro Vancouver. https://www.vancity.com/AboutVancity/News/MediaReleases/Archives/MediaReleases2015/JobsStudy_May20_2015/
[ii] Metro Vancouver, 2015. Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study.
[iii] Census Family median income 2015 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil107a-eng.htm
[iv] CMHC Vancouver Rental Market Report 2017 https://www03.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/catalog/productDetail.cfm?cat=117&itm=3&lang=en&fr=1520623797115
[v] National Housing Strategy https://www.placetocallhome.ca/
[vi] CMHC: Canadians get affordable housing help, November 2017 https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2017/2017-11-22-1505.cfm
[vii] https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/hoficlincl/moloin/mupr/rental-construction-initiative.cfm
[viii] Ferreras, Jesse, Global: From 2001 to 2016, over 12,000 more Vancouver homes were left ‘empty’, June 2017 https://globalnews.ca/news/3552940/vancouver-empty-homes/
[ix] Little, Simon, CKNW: Census found 25K empty homes in Vancouver. Empty homes tax filings show 1/3 that, March 2017 https://globalnews.ca/news/4068194/vancouver-empty-homes-tax/
[x] Ghoussoub, Michelle, CBC: BC Cities have some of the highest rents and lowest vacancy rates in Canada, November 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-cities-have-some-of-the-highest-rents-and-lowest-vacancy-rates-in-canada-1.4422343


The Issue: Minimum Wage Increases

What it’s about:  Big increases to minimum wage are becoming fashionable in Canada: first Alberta (from $12.20 currently to $15 in October 2018), then B.C. (from $10.35 to $11.35 in September 2017) and now Ontario (from $11.40 to $15.00 in January 2019, a 30% hike in 18 months). Are workers better off or does it mean fewer jobs?

READ: SBOT Submission to the Fair Wage Commission, 2017

Status: SBOT has developed a policy calling for future increases to be indexed to CPI. The 2018 SBOT Minimum Wage Policy was adopted by the members of the BC Chamber of Commerce at the recent AGM.


The Issue: Improving access to early childhood education and care in Canada

What it’s about: Reports exploring options for childhood education and care in order to identify opportunities for improvement and reform in the system including suggestions regarding ways to allocate existing public funds to deliver a suitable ECEC system.

READ:
Tax Options for Childcare that Encourage Work, Flexibility, Choice, Fairness and Quality
A more equitable childhood education and care system for Canadians under five


The Issue: Countering Costly Cyber Crimes

What it’s about:   The cost of cyber crime perpetrated on businesses is rising. However, there is insufficient data to determine accurately what those costs are. When asked at a recent cyber crime dialogue if the attendants knew where to report a cybercrime, most did not. Canada does have websites where business can report a breach of their data, however, it is not well known. Businesses need to report cyber crime and provide the data that the federal agencies require to accurately measure the costs and develop strong counter-measures. Conversely, the federal agencies could and should do more to engage businesses as part of their planning and outreach strategies, and promote their webpage for reporting cyber crime through education and awareness campaigns.

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Background:

That cyber crime is on the increase is indisputable. What becomes challenging is measuring the impact on Canada’s economy. Published only a year ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers economic crime survey found 59% respondents believe cybercrime is on the rise, with 28%confirming they’ve been impacted in the previous 24 months. Losses ranged between $50,000 to $5M for 16% of respondents, with another 31% losing from $1,000 to $50,000. Those tipping over $1M have increased to 12% from 5% in 2014.[i]

Norton Cyber Security Insights Report 2016 states that $1.9B (USD) was lost to cybercrime in Canada in the previous year with 26% (8.5 million Canadians) affected.[ii] Another private security firm predicts cybercrime will cost more than $2.1T (yes, T for trillion) by 2019 with 60% of the breaches occurring in North America.[iii] The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners puts it at $3.5T globally, now.[iv]

Symantec reports that security breaches are up 2% in 2016 from 2015 with more than 10 million identities exposed, a huge 125% increase from the previous year. 62% of the business victims were small to medium enterprises. Customer details are the targets putting many individuals at risk for fraud or worse.[v] Start-ups are most vulnerable as a data breach recovery averages $38,000; with intellectual property and trade secrets compromised. Bankruptcy looms for those who lose much.

Even governments are not safe. Since 2010, Public Safety Canada has spent $245 million on defending government computer networks, safeguarding critical infrastructure and educating the public. Currently, there are no federal laws to require companies to disclose hacks, security breaches, thefts of data or money, so the general public has incomplete knowledge of which companies have been compromised. There are several models used elsewhere which can be adapted for Canada. For example, Australia’s ACORN program (Australian Cyber Crime Online Reporting Network) collects citizen complaints so that police and industry can monitor trends, thwart organized criminal groups and arrange incidents for further investigation.

Canada does have a Spam Reporting Centre and a government operated Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), but neither is equipped to handle the exploding array of cyber-scams and malware that are targeting home and business computers.[vi] Recently, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAllliance) joined forces to create the eCrime Cyber Council (ECC) to develop a national cybercrime strategy for Canada,[vii] which will begin to address the need for data and a more coordinated approach with law enforcement agencies. As an advisory body, it does not have legislative powers to effect necessary changes to protect Canadian businesses, though its work will no doubt be of value in the future.

The RCMP has a cybercrime strategy (2015)[viii] defining cybercrime in two categories: technology-as-target (the unauthorized use of computers and/or data, including identity theft, scams, phishing, etc.), and technology-as-instrument (criminal usage including fraud, drug trafficking, cyber-bullying, exploitation, etc.). Their data is collated accordingly as the number of incidences reported in each category. The RCMP has a broad mandate for investigating cybercrime including coordinating with local policy forces and international agencies. As part of their action plan, #8 identifies the need to enhance the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) “as a trusted data and intelligence source on financially-motivated cybercrimes,” and “improve victim-based reporting” to improve police information sharing on cybercrime activities and trends, “including potential links to National Police Services.” Action items #9 and #10 are similarly seeking coordination of data collection across agencies. As not all incidents are reported or recorded, the true impact of cybercrimes has yet to be measured by anyone, including those charged with investigating criminal activity in cyber-space.

To conclude, the research is not consistent on cost or number of incidences in Canada as this data is not fully tracked and not all breaches are reported. It is safe to guestimate that cybercrime has cost the Canadian economy up to $3.12 billion dollars annually (Huffington Post, quoting NORTON, 2013). The time taken (averaging 19 hours for individuals, according to Norton) to deal with an incursion as well as the cost to salvage data, the cost to develop a more secure system, the cost to update employee training to avoid further breaches, and ultimately, the cost to a business’s brand as client trust is lost along with their data, is incalculable. Cybercrime has become a barrier to economic growth.

THE SURREY BOARD OF TRADE RECOMMENDS

That the federal and provincial governments work collaboratively with stakeholders and business to:

1.   Strengthen and promote the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC)

·    as collectors of data including type and number of incidences;

·    to develop awareness and education strategies for businesses in a format that is easily accessed and understood, and

·    to pro-actively engage businesses and the public in awareness and education campaigns

2.   Ensure that the newly formed Electronic Crime Committee (ECC) includes business association representatives to assist with communications and outreach strategies to businesses[ix]

3.   Invest in the resources required to increase the RCMP’s ability to investigate and prosecute criminal activities with collaborating investigative agencies and local authorities

REFERENCES
[i] Global Economic Crime Survey 2016. www.pwc.com/ca/crimesurvey
[ii] https://us.norton.com/cyber-security-insights-2016
[iii] https://www.canadiansecuritymag.com/news/data-security/cybercrime-will-cost-businesses-over-$2-trillion-by-2019
[iv] http://www.mnp.ca/en/posts/7-shocking-statistics-on-small-business-data-theft
[v] http://www.mnp.ca/en/posts/7-shocking-statistics-on-small-business-data-theft
[vi] Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cbr-scrt/ccirc-ccric-en.aspx
[vii] https://www.cacp.ca/electronic-crime-committee.html#122
[viii] http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/royal-canadian-mounted-police-cybercrime-strategy
[ix] As per the RCMP Cybercrime Operational Framework: E5 “Engage industry to address shared cybercrime issues and foster mutually beneficial relationships.” http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/royal-canadian-mounted-police-cybercrime-strategy

This policy was adopted by the BC Chamber of Commerce members at the 2017 AGM


The issue: Economic Benefits of Universal Pharmacare for Businesses

What it’s about: Drug coverage in Canada is provided through an incomplete patchwork of private and public programs that varies across provinces. This fragmented system reduces access to medicines, diminishes drug purchasing power, duplicates administrative costs, and isolates pharmaceutical management from the management of medical and hospital care. It is needlessly costing Canadian businesses billions of dollars every year.

What SBOT has done: As well as advocating for a Universal Pharmaceutical program of coverage at all levels of government, SBOT testified in front of the Federal Standing Committee on Health — the only business association to do so. Further, Anita Huberman, CEO, represented the SBOT at a major press conference in Ottawa in February 2018.

The SBOT policy was adopted by the BC Chamber of Commerce members in 2016.

READPharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for all Canadians, the Final report of the the Standing Committee on Health, released early 2018. SBOT was quoted a number of times, and responded to the release.

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Inefficiencies of fragmented coverage

The fragmented nature of drug coverage in Canada costs businesses, taxpayers, and patients billions of dollars every year. First, lack of coverage means that many Canadians cannot afford to fill necessary prescriptions.

A 2015 Angus Reid Institute poll found 29% of British Columbia households reported they did not take medicines as directed because of cost.[1] This occurs because British Columbia’s PharmaCare system provides benefits after patients have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on medicines. This costs everyone because it results in worst health for patients and increased use of tax-financed medical and hospital care.

Fragmentation also means higher drug costs. Overall, Canadians spend 40% more on pharmaceuticals than the average of 14 comparable countries that offer universal, comprehensive drug coverage, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, and New Zealand. Thus, Canada is spending $10-billion per year more than it would if it had a universal drug plan like those found in many comparable countries.

Heavy burden on business

The burden of Canada’s incomplete and inefficient system of public drug coverage falls heavily on businesses, especially the small and medium sized enterprises who comprise the backbone of Canada’s economy. With rising costs of medications, many businesses are seeing their bottom lines erode and some find they simply cannot afford to provide insurance plans for their employees.

Small businesses are least likely to offer drug coverage and few entrepreneurs and independent contractors are covered by any drug benefit plan. This harms the efficiency of our economy because many Canadians are forced to choose where to work based access to insurance rather than aptitude and passion.

Money spent on private drug plans is not being spent well. Private sector analysts estimate that up to $5 billion spent by Canadian employers on private drug benefits is wasted because private drug plans are not well positioned to manage drug pricing or the prescribing and dispensing decisions of health professionals.[2]

Dangers of a mandatory insurance system

As provincial health ministers hold discussions with their Federal counterpart, businesses are concerned of any additional costs to their employees, their insurance plans, and their bottom line. The biggest concern is that governments are considering making private drug coverage mandatory, as was done in Quebec in 1997.

The Quebec policy requires that all eligible employees be enrolled in a private drug plan. Rather than increase efficiencies, the policy further fragmented the system and generated the highest per capita costs in Canada.[3]

For 22 years prior to mandatory private drug insurance in Quebec, per capita spending on prescription drugs in was approximately equal in Quebec and the rest of Canada. In the 19 years since their policy change, costs in Quebec have far outgrown the rest of Canada. Private employers and households in Quebec now spend $200 per capita more on pharmaceuticals than employers and households in the rests of Canada.

In British Columbia, a Quebec-style system would cost employers and households an additional $920 million annually if costs rose here as they did in Quebec.

Economies of a single-payer system

There is a better option. A universal, comprehensive public drug plan that was consistent throughout BC and across Canada would be a wise investment for BC’s economic prosperity. Research has shown that such a plan would reduce employer-sponsored drug costs in Canada by up to $10.2 billion per year – a $570 million annual savings for businesses in British Columbia alone.[4] This would boost Canada’s labour market competitiveness.

A universal pharmaceutical program would be economically viable not only by taking advantage of the power of a single purchaser, but through the following:

Reduction of administration costs for businesses and unions
Elimination of the need for tax subsidies to encourage employer funded benefit packages
Decreased direct emergency and acute care medical costs due to inappropriate or underuse of drug therapies
Reduction of other health service costs
Because of these increased efficiencies, a universal pharmacare program would increase government costs by only $3.4 billion, $2.4 billion of which could be financed by the reduced cost of private drug benefits for public sector employees. The 2015 Angus Reid Institute poll found that most taxpayers would support such a program, even if it required modest increase in taxes.[5]

Moving forward

As British Columbia joins health ministers across the country to discuss how best to control the costs of pharmaceuticals through bulk purchasing agreements and other strategies, caution is advised when choosing a program of delivery. It is tempting, and usually preferable to choose private suppliers over a provincially run program; however, in terms of cost effectiveness, the best strategy is one where pharmaceuticals are added to the universal health coverage of our medicare system.

Recommendation: That the Provincial Government and the Federal Government:

  1. Work to develop a universal pharmaceutical program that will engender cost savings through bulk purchasing agreements and other cost-sharing strategies; and
  2. Avoid off-loading costs of providing pharmaceutical coverage onto businesses through private insurance schemes per Quebec model

[1] 2015 Angus Reid. Prescription drug access and affordability an issue for nearly a quarter of all Canadian households. http://angusreid.org/prescription-drugs-canada/
[2] 2014 Drug Trend Report. Express Scripts Canada. 2015. http://www.express-scripts.ca/ research/drug-trend-reports
[3] 2015, Mar-Andre Gagnon. Quebec-Style Pharmacare Program Won’t Work for the Rest of Canada.
[4] Morgan, SG, et al. Estimated cost of universal public coverage of prescription drugs in Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2015. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.141564. Draft.
[5] 2015 Angus Reid. Prescription drug access and affordability an issue for nearly a quarter of all Canadian households. http://angusreid.org/prescription-drugs-canada/


The issue: Affordable Housing and a Fluid Labour Market

What it’s about: Affordable housing choices are required in British Columbia in order to be economically competitive by attracting and keeping skilled workers. Housing choices that work best are those that meet the needs of various income levels and are located within a reasonable distance from employers. However, with the withdrawal of Federal tax incentives 20-30 years ago, and the current pressures on market housing that have been well-documented in the media, housing choices are limited and largely unaffordable for today’s employee.

Status:  This policy, adopted by the BC Chamber of Commerce members in 2016, will be updated to reflect current government directions.

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In order to ensure that the most basic of needs, a home, does not become a barrier for skilled labour in BC, there needs to be a variety of income-sensitive strategies to encourage innovation in the housing sector.

In a study done by Vancity[1], the cost of housing was determined to inhibit young workers from coming or staying in the greater Vancouver region. Similar studies have pointed out that the rise of real estate values is greatly outpacing incomes and the gap is growing. Very few workers receive salary increases of 10-20% per year. In fact, Vancity’s findings are that salary growth is slowing with the past five years averaging 1.3%. This, they claim, is why Millenials are exiting the Lower Mainland labour market for greener pastures where employment and housing opportunities co-exist.

Renting is often seen as an affordable alternative to house a workforce, particularly temporary or contract employees, near employment. However, with a BC average rental rate of 1.2%[2], a decrease from 2014 and the Lower Mainland rate approaching 0, the pressure on existing rental stock is inhibiting in-migration of Canadian skilled labour, particularly where they are needed the most by BC employers.

From October 2014 to October 2015, only 1,900 purpose built rentals units were constructed throughout BC (CMHC). These are either new or renovated units returned to the market. Rents are rising in response to market pressure on average of 3.7% compared to 2.4% from the previous year. As mentioned, salaries have not.

Vancity’s analysis of salaries that provide insufficient incomes for purchasing, may be enough for rental units – if available: mid-level managers, and senior administrators, computer programmers, and technicians, registered nurses and social workers, researchers, counselors, food industry workers, and contractors. The list of skilled workers unable to purchase in Metro Vancouver is long. This improves outside urban areas and into the farther regions of the province, but employment opportunities diminish.

Simply, relying on developers to provide a variety of housing stock, including purpose-built rentals, to meet differing levels of income has failed. The current stock of purpose-built rentals are aging, and not replaced by strata-based condominiums (most are not permitted to be rentals by strata councils). Co-ops and other subsidized housing arrangements are also aging and the agreements are coming to a close.

The Center for Housing Policy[3] collated a number of studies that demonstrate clearly the connection between the development of low- to mid-level income housing units and employment. They concluded that not only are employers able to attract the best and the brightest, there are spill-over benefits for the local economy.

The solution is for the Province of British Columbia to work with Federal and Local colleagues and find ways to create incentives and opportunities to save and increase the current rental stock, protect and expand co-op and co-housing units, and encourage innovation through reviewing relevant legislation that controls row housing and strata by-laws. British Columbia is doing well economically; however, to continue to do so, we need to ensure that a lack of housing for skilled labour does not become a barrier to future economic growth.

Recommendation: That the Provincial Government:

  1. Work with the Federal Government to develop tax and other incentives for purpose built market rental housing units for low- to mid-range income levels, using innovative designs and locating near transit hubs; and
  2. Work to combine other social program supports to help support those in the lower income ranges to access market rentals, such as expanding the SAFER program to other vulnerable populations.

[1] Vancity, May 2015. Help wanted: salaries, affordability and the exodus of labour from Metro Vancouver. Accessed March 2016, https://www.vancity.com/ AboutVancity/News/ MediaReleases/Archives/ MediaReleases2015/JobsStudy_ May20_2015/
[2] CMHC, Fall 2015. Rental market report – British Columbia Highlights. www.cmhc.ca/housingmarketinformation
[3] 2011, Center for Housing Policy, The role of Affordable Housing in Creating Jobs and Stimulating Local Economic Development: A Review of the Literature.
[4] http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/ document/ID/freeside/98043_00


The Issue: Social Policy Framework for Healthier Communities

What it’s about:  The ability for businesses to grow and prosper is not isolated from the community in which they are situated. If it is a healthy community, businesses will thrive. If it is not, businesses will suffer from the ill effects of crime, addictions, homelessness, and other challenges. Further, businesses are very interested in ensuring taxes collected are used efficiently and effectively to support thriving communities – maximizing well-being while minimizing waste or duplication between ministries.

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By supporting the development of a social policy framework, the business community achieves both goals: addressing social challenges effectively and supporting economic growth in their community.

Background
Social Capital is very loosely defined as an economically based network of relationships within a described society that benefit all members of that society;[1] or, more colloquially, since we’re all in this together, let’s all work together. And that’s the key – how to develop a network of agencies, ministries, services, and business interests that works effectively together for the benefit of all.

When it comes to public policy, a coordinated network operating with economic efficiency is the ideal that businesses and communities hope governments aspire to. The Liberal government of B.C. put forward a BC Jobs Plan that sought to tie various parts of society together to promote job growth, and to that end, they have made great strides forward. It is a comprehensive strategy that touches on nearly all ministries, outlines various investments, and measures progress against a baseline.

However, silos still exist. Recent experiences in Surrey, as an example, point to schools and childcare spaces have not kept pace with job growth and development. The fast-growing city has one part of the puzzle, the school district another, and several ministries (Education, MCFD, Health) have responsibilities for education and childcare. Surrey currently has a deficit of over 12,000 child care spaces (0-12) and, despite the recent $217M towards capital builds for 5000 spaces, there will still be a sizeable population of children that will see out their school years in portables. Attracting good employees becomes difficult if a community cannot ensure quality childhood experiences for their families.

Another example is homelessness – a complicated source of frustration and despair. According to the Metro Vancouver report on homelessness[2], the cost per homeless person per year is estimated to be $55,000 tax payer dollars – spent on homeless shelters, support services and health care costs.

It is clear that the current system of fractured governance that has multiple ministries and agencies working silos, each within their narrow scope of authority, has not been efficient nor effective in slowing down or reducing the growth of the homeless population…. The many agencies involved in addressing homelessness must work together in a system-wide approach to help prevent homelessness… serve the region’s 3,000-4,000 homeless population, and expedite the transition out of homelessness for the 10,500 people in the region…[3]

As any business owner who operates near where homeless people gather, it is very difficult to attract new customers to an area that has challenges.

A cost-efficient framework to facilitate coordination between ministry departments, stakeholders, and business organizations would be helpful to ensure policy alignment and consistency. A policy framework to guide decision-making and identify important connections would help anticipate needs and avoid crises before they arise.

In early 2013, Alberta’s Premier Redford launched a Social Policy Framework, a tool which the government anticipated would assist in setting priorities in addressing community challenges.[4] Further, it would “coordinate activities between government departments,… to ensure policy alignment and consistency.”[5] Their policy outlines core components, tools, and the roles and responsibilities of government, stakeholders, organizations, communities, and businesses to vision and then implement a set of harmonized social policies for environment, health, and social services.[6] This collective action by a diverse set of stakeholders provides the basis for a resilient and thriving community.

If B.C. were to consider adopting a similar policy, the over-arching purpose of a framework would be to describe the quality of life citizens want and how to achieve this within the communities of B.C., each with their unique challenges. Social capital is often overlooked as an economic driver, yet evidence exists that “healthy, educated, and trained workers determine how productively other critical factors such as land, labour, and physical capital are used… [and] the potential for each person to contribute to the economy and to economic growth.”[7]

BoardVoice, an umbrella association representing non-profit service providers across B.C., is concerned that expenditures for services are not coordinated sufficiently to effect desired results. Further, they are engaging business associations to consider how employers would benefit if the homeless were not sleeping on their doorsteps or if family challenges were not impacting a worker’s productivity, and perhaps their personal safety and the safety of other co-workers at their workplace. They state:

We wouldn’t think of building a road or planning a new real-estate development without a framework for planning the project. But the concept of planning for social outcomes has been slower to catch on.

In B.C., we spend many billions of dollars a year on social interventions and supports – policing, courts, community programs, income assistance, services for people with disabilities or mental health issues, park development, treatment centres, skate parks, new street lights, on and on.

Yet we spend it with no clear idea as to what we’re trying to achieve, or how we’ll know when we get there.[8]

BoardVoice posits that by uniting levels of government, ministries, organizations, business sectors, and other stakeholders into a network of cooperation and collaboration on a shared vision with measurable outcomes, to harmonize policies and effect cost efficiencies through coordinated implementation strategies, B.C.’s social capital would indeed provide the foundation by which employers and employees can grow within desirable, healthy communities.

The BC Jobs Plan is a strong vision. However, to support its continued success there is a need to ensure service delivery for all communities while recognizing and keeping pace with their unique needs, in order to support growth and economic success efficiently and effectively. A Social Policy Framework will provide a guide for policy-makers and stakeholders alike to ensure cost savings through efficiencies of needs anticipation, strong inter- and extra-ministerial agencies’ harmonization, and a measurable outcome of a shared vision.

THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS
That the provincial government implement a framework to deal with social issues similar to that of the BC Jobs Plan to recognize and achieve efficiencies across ministries and stakeholders.

Footnotes
[1] One such definition is “the institutions, relationships, attitudes, and values that govern interactions among people and contribute to economic and social development.” Christiaan Grootaert and Thierry van Bastelaer. “Social Capital: From Definition to Measurement.” Understanding and Measuring Social Capital. The World Bank. 2002
[2] Metro Vancouver, Addressing Homelessness in Metro Vancouver, February 24, 2017. P.1.
[3] Ibid, P.9
[4] Press release: https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=3373421703E69-E310-8B91-0D86BF049…
[5] Alberta Government. Alberta’s Social Policy Framework. February 2013. P.3.
[6] Alberta Government. Alberta’s Social Policy Framework. February 2013.
[7] McLean, Colin, et al. Making the Case: A Social Policy Framework for British Columbia. SFU School of Public Policy Report with BoardVoice. August 2014. P.73.
[8] www.boardvoice.ca


The Issue:  Aligning BC’s Family Day with the February Holidays of Neighbouring Jurisdictions

What it’s about: While British Columbia has a statutory holiday (Family Day) on the 2nd Monday of February, five other provinces observe holidays on the 3rd Monday of February, which is also a federal holiday in the United States of America. For companies which conduct business in other parts of Canada or in the United States, this misalignment of holidays creates a barrier to commerce and trade and is an inconvenience to businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Status: Advocacy Win! The Provincial Government announced in February 2018 that in 2019, the February Family Day will be aligned with the rest of Canada.

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Alignment of BC’s Family Day with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions is necessary to ensure that business productivity and economic activity is not unduly adversely affected by the holiday.

BC’s Family Day holiday was first proposed by Premier Christy Clark during her successful run for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party in early 2011. Later, in that year’s Speech from the Throne, it was announced that BC’s first Family Day holiday would be observed on February 18, 2013—the 3rdMonday of February.  However, later atwo-week online consultation process was held to determine if British Columbians preferred the holiday to fall on the 2ndor 3rdMonday in February. Following a public campaign by some in the tourism industry to promote the 2ndMonday as a way to boost their mid-February sales, the respondents to the online poll expressed a preference for the 2nd Monday.

Unfortunately, four years of this misaligned holiday have shown that it has negative impacts on the operations of businesses across the province. Companies which conduct business in other provinces or in the United States are negatively impacted by the misaligned holiday in many ways, including wasted staff time and missed business opportunities.  When offices in BC are closed for Family Day but firms are operating in all neighbouring jurisdictions, local businesses are unable to service their interprovincial or American customers and may be unable to capitalize on potential sales or other opportunities. Then, come the 3rdMonday in February, the employees of those same local businesses may largely be sitting idle, wasting staff time as they are unable to reach those same clients who are then closed due to their own holiday.

The misalignment of Family Day causes inconvenience, increased costs, and lost opportunity for businesses of all sizes and in myriad industries. From the financial services sector which still has to operate when markets in Toronto or New York are open, to the film and television industry which must stay open on Family Day to coordinate with the industry hub in California, to any company that has customers, ships product, or does business outside of BC, the misalignment of Family Day is a unnecessary inconvenience and burden.

To put the economic impact in context, the following indicates revenues generated by interprovincial trade between BC and the rest of Canada. Interprovincial trade accounts for 44% of BC’s total complement of trading partners. The value of interprovincial export of goods and services from BC is valued at more than $37 billion.[1] Of that, fully 81.5% or $30.5 billion is conducted with provinces, which have February holidays that are misaligned with BC’s Family Day.  The value of one business day’s interprovincial export between BC and the six misaligned provinces is in excess of $120 million. This does not include the nearly $18 billion in annual BC exports to the United States[2](or over $71 million per business day) whose manufacturers/suppliers are also inconvenienced on the 3rdMonday in February because of the President’s Day holiday in the United States.

The solution to this problem is to align BC’s Family Day with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions which are all observed on the 3rdMonday in February. There is little legal impediment to changing the date and such a change would be relatively simple for the provincial government to make; the Family Day Act does not designate a specific date but instead empowers cabinet to prescribe a day in February to be observed.

The Surrey Board of Trade recommends that the Provincial Government continue its history of reducing unnecessary burdens on business and:

  • Align BC’s Family Day holiday with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions by moving the date Family Day is observed to the 3rdMonday of February.

[1]Exports of Goods and Services to Other Provinces, by Province/Territory, BC Stats, accessed at: http://bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/ExportsImports/Data.aspx
[2]Trade Profile – United States, BC Stats, accessed at: http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/statisticsbysubject/ExportsImports/Data/CountryTradeProfiles/TradeProfileUnitedStates.aspx


The issue: Childcare Advocacy

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade has established a policy to advocate for a national childcare program. However, there are opportunities for the BC government to assist employees gain access to affordable child care.

What SBOT has done: The policy was updated twice since the issue was first identified. The most recent recommended expanding the provincial capital grants for child care centres to build more spaces and raising the support threshold for vulnerable families.

SBOT participated in the Surrey Child Care Task Force, which presented their first report to the City of Surrey Council in April 2018. The next step for the Task Force is to develop strategies to address the needs identified.

READ: 2018 Surrey Child Care Report

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The following recommendations are similar to the 2014 federal recommendations.

  1. That the BC government, in alignment with its Families Agenda document, investigate the overall financial savings to the provincial economy if it increases investment in secure, comprehensive child care facilities and spaces that are consistently accessible and consistently affordable with a low flat rate, such as the $10 per day recommendation
  2. To assist families out of poverty and increase employment opportunity by coordinating child care access and affordability with those programs that help parents / guardians overcome barriers to employment
    Background:

Since BC published its Families First Agenda for BC in 2012, families and employers anticipated support for childcare access and affordability. Recent study findings suggest that rather than improving, accessibility is decreasing while fees are increasing challenging those most in need of assistance in gaining full employment.

In 2014, Surrey Board of Trade successfully raised the issue and gained national support at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to request that the federal government

  1. Work with the provinces and territories to fully examine the potential impact on productivity and the Canadian GDP of a countrywide system of Child care with possible implications for child care rates and spaces
  2. The findings and policy recommendations associated with the aforementioned study should be delimited by, and respect, provincial jurisdictional limitations as well as fiscal considerations, associated with the implementation of child care policy.

The Surrey Board of Trade used the work of Dr. Paul Kershaw who found that work-life conflicts of parents raising young children is actually costly for employers with resulting higher absenteeism rates, greater turnover, and increased use of employer funded extended health benefits. Further, the cost to BC business community, according to Kershaw, is over $600 million annually and over $4 billion for Canadian businesses. These costs are exasperated by the costs to the Canadian health care system of over $2.5 billion and child welfare of over $1.2 billion. Inadequate child care is too costly to ignore.

Issue:

Finding adequate, safe care for children in one of the fastest growing cities in BC continues to be a major challenge for Surrey’s employees. Most care is a patchwork that provides insufficient early childhood education stimulus or simply warehouses children in a neighbour’s basement. The stress and challenge of childcare concerns do have a profound impact on an employee’s morale, productivity and ability to be fully employed.

According to First Call’s 2015 report card, BC’s rate of child poverty remains consistently higher than the national average, increasing dramatically for children of recent immigrants, aboriginal identity, female lone-parent families, racialized families, or with a disability. Child poverty is a misnomer of family poverty as children do not choose poverty but are in families experiencing under employment or unemployment.

Access to safe affordable child care is seen as a primary support mechanism to raise families out of poverty as it would allow single parents an opportunity to find and keep a job, give immigrant families opportunities to attend integration support programs, and address other barriers that families experience.

However, in BC as of 2012, only 18% of children under 12 had access to a regulated child care space, which is less than the Canadian average of 20.5%. Unregulated care arrangements include family members through to neighbourhood small care-givers, with no standards for safety or quality.

Using First Call’s most recent figures, BC invested $398 / year for regulated spaces, which is substantially less than the Canadian average of $838 / year (including Quebec; without Quebec, the average is $436). Further, BC’s investment decreased by $16 million between 2011 and 2012. As a result, parent fees are higher on average across all age groups in Canada. Fees are a major barrier to employment even with subsidies that may be available to parents/guardians that apply — although acceptance criteria is unclear.

Facts

The following highlights were compiled by the Surrey Child Care Task Force, of which Surrey Board of Trade is a member.

Population Growth

  • Surrey has BC’s largest child population and highest birth rate
  • School District 36 is the largest district in BC with approximately 70,000 students
  • Over 35,000 children are 0-5 years old in Surrey, equal in number to the 3rd largest school district in BC
  • Over 41,000 children are 6-12 years old

Labour Force participation

  • 1976: under 40% of mothers with children under 16 were in the paid labour force
  • In 2012: over 73% of mothers are in paid labour force and is continuing to climbThe rate for mothers with a child under 3 years has increased from 28% to almost 70% in the same time period

Child poverty (2013)

  • BC Child Poverty: 20.4% (after tax)
  • Depth of poverty has increased – average gap $11,000 below the Low Income Measure
  • 31.8% of poor children live in families with at lest one adult working full-time

Child Care in Surrey

  • Only 12.4 spaces for every 100 children aged 0-12 years, which is the second worst ration in Lower Mainland
  • BC averages 24 spaces for every 100 children
  • After school care and under 3 years old care is in serious deficit
  • Very few facilities serve more than one age group
  • 93% of available childcare is commercial
  • Child care fees as high as $1850 per month for under 3 and up to $1550 for over 3 care, and is the second largest expense in a family’s budget

Recommendations:

  1. That the BC government, in alignment with its Families Agenda document, increase investment in secure, comprehensive childcare facilities and spaces that are accessible and affordable
  2. To assist families out of poverty and increase employment and skill building opportunities by coordinating childcare access and affordability with those programs that help parents / guardians overcome barriers to employment.

The issue: Business and Health Care

What it’s about: The Social Policy team members began to research the perceived differences between per capita funding of Fraser Health Authority (the largest of the five provincial health authorities) in comparison with Vancouver Coastal.

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This led to the determination of four key priorities identified by Surrey Board of Trade members that challenge workplace productivity:  access to primary care workers (e.g., family doctors, health clinics); mental illness and health; elder care; and, community and workplace wellness. In order to take action, more information was required.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Throughout 2016, the Surrey Board of Trade held four Surrey Leadership Dialogues on Business and Healthcare with panelists presenting on primary care, workplace mental health, senior caregiver impacts, and opportunities for wellness programs. Further, SBOT teamed with several 4th year Kwantlen Polytechnic Nursing students who developed and implemented a survey of SBOT membership and interviewed a number of members.

Status: Ongoing


The issue: New schools needed for Surrey

What it’s about: Surrey, along with many communities in the South Fraser region, has been dramatically under-resourced in terms of elementary and secondary school facilities.

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The school district was forced to use a disproportionate number of student portable classrooms this negatively impacted the school district’s budget, as these $100 thousand portables were not considered capital facilities and were therefore the responsibility of the school district to provide. As well, most of these portables were without bathroom facilities and were not as conducive to learning as main building classrooms.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Over the last decade the Surrey Board of Trade has been lobbying the provincial government to readress the facilities imbalance in Surrey vis-a-vis the rest of the province, by releasing a position paper in partnership with the School District, the PACs, and the Post-Secondary institutions in 2011.

The result: An announcement in February 2013 said a new Secondary School will be built in the North Clayton area of Surrey. The school, to be built on property purchased that month, is expected to begin construction early 2014 with possible completion in the Spring of 2016.



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The issue: Community Court (Surrey Version).

What it’s about:

  1. The community court is about partnership and problem solving. It’s about creating new relationships, both within the justice system and with health and social services, community organizations, area residents, merchants, faith communities and schools.
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  1. The community court is about testing new ways to reduce crime and improve public safety. It deals with offenders more quickly through a more coordinated and informed response.
  2. A high number of offenders have health and social problems, including alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness and poverty. The court takes a problem-solving approach to address offenders’ needs and circumstances and the underlying causes of their criminal behaviour.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Continued lobbying for further action on this for a community court in Surrey.

The result: In progress.


The issue: Surrey RCMP announced actions to mitigate gang violence by releasing the names of gangsters by BC’s anti-gang policing unit and to develop a strategy to include business to help combat organized crime violence

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade applauded the announcement. Businesses needs to report crime or suspicious behaviour so that police can bring the appropriate resources to handle the situation

The result: The Surrey Board of Trade’s Crime & Justice Team met with the Surrey RCMP to express support and explore the details of the plan.


The issue: RCMP Contract.

What it’s about: As a result of the public discussion concerning the BC Provincial contract with the RCMP for policing, there has been a discussion about the continued use of the RCMP versus a switch to either a provincial police force and/or an expanded Vancouver Regional municipal force to a metro force.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade found little to recommend changing services. Our points were:

  1. The cost of provincial policing is shared between the Federal Government at 30% and the Provincial Government at 70%.  To operate the provincial police force the costs would go up by 30% plus the costs of additional administration and capital expenses.  The additional costs have been estimated at $150 million. This would likely impact tax rates in order to pay for the additional costs.
  2. The cost of municipal policing is shared between the City of Surrey at 90% and the Federal Government at 10%.  To set up and operate a City of Surrey Police agency would incur setup costs and additional administrative and ongoing capital costs.  The additional cost of policing would impact both business and property taxes.
  3. The amalgamation of the diverse forces in the region could be a major obstacle with the potential for unhappy relations between the existing and newly amalgamated members.  The municipalities that currently have the RCMP contract could lose good police officers who choose to continue with the RCMP.
  4. There would be a large expense with respect to policing assets, from patrol cars to detachments, which would have to be replaced or paid for. As well, administrative costs would increase.
  5. There would be additional costs in recruiting and training new officers.  Although the majority of the RCMP officers may elect to remain with the new regional police force there would be loss of police members that would put pressure on the Justice Institute to train. Also, there would be a substantial impact on the JI to pick up the work currently done by the RCMP Depot currently.
  6. Concern over regional imbalances – each municipality could potentially end up competing for police resources and, as Surrey has experienced with transportation in the past, Vancouver generally receives what it needs first.
  7. In the 20 years since the last RCMP contract some of the issues that favoured regional policing have been resolved such as better and standard communication, PRIME system and integrated municipal teams to work on serious crimes.

Conclusion: Whether the measure is service or economics, there is little or no gain in joining a large municipal force, and thus, the Surrey Board of Trade supports the retention and on-going relationship with the RCMP for policing the City of Surrey.

The result: RCMP contract was maintained in Surrey.


The issue: Reporting crime and the reasons why many victim businesses don’t report.

What it’s about: Many businesses are subject to criminal acts ranging from trespass and petty theft from yards, to breaking and entering and theft of materials and equipment worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet it appears that many victims still don’t report crime, which impacts the police and their ability to bring

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the appropriate resources to bear.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade prepared a survey for its members and sought the reasons for them not reporting crime.  The top three reasons were: the crime was considered too trivial; no faith in the justice system to do anything; and the police are too busy.

The result: The “Report All Crime, All The Time Initiative” was developed. The survey results were also shared with the local RCMP.


The issue: Shopping malls experiencing problems with their stores not aggressively prosecuting shoplifters.

What it’s about: Most large businesses are strict about prosecuting shoplifting, however, it was determined that many small stores were not particularly keen to pursue prosecution, or even report incidents because of inexperienced staff, time lost to handle thieves, and longer term issues of going to court and so on.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade sought the experience of a number of malls in the city, however discovered that it was not a topic that many wanted to discuss, feeling that they could do little to encourage their stores to become more aggressive on the problem.

The result: Ongoing organized communication with the malls via RCMP.


The issue: Metal Theft – As the value of metal increases, so does the theft of metal products, (primarily by the drug addicted) ranging from fences, aluminum window frames, and copper, including power and other transmission lines.

What it’s about: Drug addicted, low level thieves patrol business areas searching for any metal that can be stolen from machinery, buildings, power lines, street lights and so on.  The incidence rises and falls with the commodity markets. The problem is that the criminals have a place to sell their takings, often for ridiculously low amounts

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considering the damage done to steal the material.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade mounted a lobby campaign to make it difficult for rogue metal salvers to function.

The result: By assisting the Surrey Fire Chief there are now tighter reporting regulations on these businesses to identify sellers and reject and report suspected stolen materials.


The project: Fraud Awareness: Fraud awareness is the best defense against becoming a fraud victim.

What it’s about: To create an annual education program and tools to help counter business fraud such as fake cheques, currency and identity theft.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Recognizing Fraud Awareness Month, the Surrey Board of Trade presented a panel workshop on the various aspects of fraud. The common message from our presenters was that fraud and identity theft is big business, the domain of world-wide organized crime. It is pernicious and requires that we become highly vigilant to avoid being victimized.  Even doing everything right does not guarantee that you will avoid becoming a victim.

The result: Annually present a Fraud Awareness program – ongoing education to business.


The issue: Aggressive panhandling in business areas.

What it’s about: Businesses in certain areas of the city are impacted by the presence of aggressive panhandlers in the vicinity of their businesses.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Crime & Justice Team reviewed the laws governing the problem and the Chair met with one of the members working in that area who have teams of people who can intercept and move these people along.

The result: Fewer complaints about panhandling. Ongoing observation.


The issue: Identity theft through theft of documents, physically and online, and how to counteract it and repair damage.

What it’s about: Identity thieves collect information on people in order to use their identity to commit crimes.  This can be perpetrated against individuals and companies and causes enormous financial loss and injury to reputation and well-being of victims.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade has researched the various aspects of ID Theft and formulated several resolutions for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to prompt changes in the criminal code to block loopholes.

The result: The information from the resolutions showed in legislation that changed the Criminal Code of Canada in 2012. Now seeking modification on insurance documents left in vehicles.


The issue: Identity theft involving the use of private information unknowingly left in photocopier and printer hard drives after disposal of machines.

What it’s about: Digital photocopiers, high-end printers and other such machines have hard drives, like computers, to input data while it’s being manipulated by the machine.  Many owners and operators of these machines were unaware that the data is never purged from these hard drives. When the machines are returned from

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leases, or upgrades and so on, ID thieves can simply buy the machines and retrieve the data which often includes large amounts of confidential personal or company data

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade submitted a resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce asking that the government intervene and work with the manufacturers to resolve this problem.

The result: The resolution was accepted and is now Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy.


The issue: Identity theft arising from the collection of information from receipts of electronic transactions.

What it’s about: Businesses producing receipts use certain protocols to hide or truncate card numbers. Unfortunately different sectors truncate different parts of the numbers (the first group, middle group or last group).  A reformed ID thief identified this as a serious vulnerability because all one needed to do was follow an individual

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around and collect discarded receipts, ultimately acquiring all of the numbers.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: To submit a position on this issue to the federal government

The result: In progress.


The issue: Protecting the victims of identity theft from further harassment.

What it’s about: When an identity is stolen and used to commit crimes, how does the innocent victim prove that they are indeed the victim? The Ohio State Government has an Identity Theft Verification Passport Program created by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to provide victims of identity theft with a way to verify to law

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enforcement and creditors that their identities have been stolen, and may be a source of information for the development of a similar solution which could be adapted to fit the Canadian paradigm with such documentation being made available to Canadian victims of Identity theft.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Suspended as these action plans in Ohio were discontinued.

The result: SBOT will continue to seek provincial solution.


The issue: Long Gun Registry

What it’s about: The Long Gun Registry has always been, and remains, a political issue split between the abolitionists generally aligned with the Conservative government on the right and the Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP in the centre and left of the spectrum.  It is also an urban versus rural issue.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Crime & Justice Team has discussed the issue and has heard that among the Chiefs of Police across the country, there is unanimous agreement that the registry should be kept, that it operate under a controlled and reasonable budget, is a viable and useful tool for law enforcement and safety of police and public alike.

The result: The Surrey Board of Trade directors voted to support the retention of the Long-Gun Registry. Unfortunately, it was disbanded in Spring 2012.


The issue: Judges – French/English Language Requirement – A bill requiring that all judges on the Supreme Court of Canada, be fully functional in both official languages, to a legal level, passed parliament due to the minority make up of the House of Commons.

What it’s about: The bill, if it were to become law, would require that all jurists of the Supreme Court would have to achieve a proficiency in both official languages to a legal standard.  This is an onerous requirement and would rule out the appointment of jurists from much of Canada where French is not represented in enough numbers

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in the population.  This further skews the top court as it already is guaranteed three seats from Quebec.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The SBOT was researching the issue in order to write a letter of concern over the matter.  Conversations with government members indicated that the bill was in the Senate and would not likely make it through.  Even if it did, there would be no requirement that the government proclaim it.

The result: When the government fell on the non-confidence motion, the bill died on the order paper.


The issue: Identity Theft – Notice of Disclosure when breaches occur.

What it’s about: When privacy breaches occur, companies must notify the Provincial Government as well as the affected parties.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Reviewed the proposal, then moved on as the governments in question have already passed legislation to cover this event.

The result: No action required.


The issue: Cybercrime (online crime) issues beyond Identity theft – Reducing Crime in Canada.

What it’s about: The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has spoken to the issues of identity theft and spam in previous resolutions. However, there is much cyber crime outside of these two aspects including espionage and terrorism which obviously pose a threat to commerce as well as the integrity of the country and need attention by

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our government.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Submitted a resolution that the government amend the Criminal Code to modernize search and seizure and intercept provisions (particularly Part 6) in keeping with changes in technology by:

  • requiring telephone and internet service providers to include interception capability in new technology;
  • requiring telecommunications service providers to make customer name and address information available on request from law enforcement personnel;

Recommending that the Government:

a. Establish a centralized mechanism for the mandatory reporting of designated cyber security incidents to enable quantification of the potential damage to the Canadian economy.

b. Establish a national educational program to increase awareness, among children, of cyber crime and prevention programs for introduction into school curricula.

c. Establish a web site to act as a clearing house for the most current information on cybercrime in Canada, for public information and education, with monitored links to similar central information points around the globe.

The result: Acceptance of the resolution into the Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy book.


The project: Business security.

What it’s about: During large events, SBOT alerted businesses urging caution regarding pick pocketers and other safety precautions.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Created an email warning members of the threat.

The result: Increased awareness of the crime risk.


The issue: Medical Marijuana Regulations.

What it’s about: Marijuana Consultations Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate. The Surrey Board of Trade is a key and active player in the Surrey Crime Reduction Strategy. Representing the business community, we indicated simply that Medical Marijuana Grow Operations pose significant issues for public health and

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safety. The current regulations permit individuals to legally grow medical marijuana in a residential setting with no mechanism to ensure they adhere to fire, safety and electrical regulations. The Surrey Board of Trade asked for a comprehensive review of this process and new regulations to ensure that residences have the appropriate licensing for growing medical marijuana and adhere to fire, safety and electrical regulations.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade wrote a Letter of Support for the resolution on changes to medical marijuana regulations as presented by Len Garis, Fire Chief, City of Surrey and the President, Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC.

The result: In progress.


The issue: Domestic Abuse Impacts on the Workplace

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade in partnership with the South Surrey White & Rock Chamber of Commerce released the Domestic Abuse Impacts to Business Position Paper.

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Domestic abuse is typically viewed as a problem that occurs within the confines of a person’s home. However, abusers seek control and when a victim leaves their home, they are still not safe. Domestic abuse can enter the workplace when an abuser attempts to harass, stalk, threaten, or injure a victim while at work.

The implications for business: higher costs, lower productivity
Domestic abuse plays a significant role within a workplace. Domestic abuse can result in:

  1. Reduced employee productivity and motivation
  2. Loss of focus, which can also lead to increased risk of injury
  3. Higher absenteeism
  4. Replacement, recruitment, and training costs if victims are injured or dismissed for poor performance
  5. Higher company health expenses
  6. Decreased worker morale
  7. Strained co-worker relations
  8. Potential harm to employees, co-workers, and/or clients when a violent abuser enters the workplace
  9. Liability costs if a member of the public or another employee in the workplace is harmed

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Policy Recommendations:
The Surrey Board of Trade and the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce recommend that the Provincial and Federal Governments implement the following policy and educational recommendations:

  1. Prevention
    Create and implement training, education, support, and partnerships, especially with the tools provided by WorkSafeBC.
  2. Services
    1. Develop and implement an engagement strategy to identify key issues, specific actions, strategies, timelines and desired outcomes in collaboration with community partners.
    2. Develop resource materials to support the legal community and public in preparing for the transition to the Family Law Act.
  3. Accountability and justice
    1. Determine next steps regarding domestic violence courts upon review of the BC Justice Reform Initiative report.
    2. Develop legal education materials for the public with the Public Legal Education Institute and the Legal Services Society on the Family Law Act.

The result: Composed position paper – more work to be done on the recommendations around collaboration with WorkSafeBC, and further advocacy.


The issue: Minimum Wage in British Columbia – updated in 2015

What it’s about: In 2010 the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) passed a policy statement on the provincial government’s planned series of increases to minimum wage. In brief, the Surrey Board of Trade supported the staggered increase to allow the BC minimum wage to be more reflective of the cost of living in B.C., and to catch up to

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other provinces in Canada, as BC had the lowest minimum wage at the time.

In March 2015 the BC government decided to tie increases in the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). As of September 15, 2015 the BC minimum wage will increase, in accordance with the 2014 CPI of approximately 2% from $10.25 to $10.45 per hour.

The Surrey Board of Trade has engaged our members and the volunteer members of our Finance and Taxation and Social Policy Advocacy Teams to understand their concerns with the new policy and the impacts it may have on our members and the business community at large.

The Surrey Board of Trade membership expressed several concerns in connection with the policy of tying minimum wage increases to the CPI, including the following:

  1. The minimum wage may not meet our current cost of living standards, leading to increased poverty that escalates health care costs and social spending;
  2. Recent changes in Alberta and in Washington State minimum wage policies may create upward pressure on the B.C. wage policy;
  3. It may be better to eliminate minimum wage and adjust education and social welfare programs to accommodate long-term low-wage employees; and
  4. Instead of addressing low wages in isolation, all the programs that assist low wage and under-employed individuals should be addressed to improve job opportunities.

Recommendation: Keeping those concerns in mind, the Surrey Board of Trade supports the decision of the British Columbia government to tie the minimum wage level to the Consumer Price Index. The measured increase should provide a small improvement to low wage employees’ living standards without causing a dramatic impact on SME employers.


The issue: 2016 Childcare Advocacy

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade has established a policy to advocate for a national childcare program. However, there are opportunities for the BC government to assist employees gain access to affordable child care. The following recommendations are similar to the 2014 federal recommendations.

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  1. That the BC government, in alignment with its Families Agenda document, investigate the overall financial savings to the provincial economy if it increases investment in secure, comprehensive child care facilities and spaces that are consistently accessible and consistently affordable with a low flat rate, such as the $10 per day recommendation
  2. To assist families out of poverty and increase employment opportunity by coordinating child care access and affordability with those programs that help parents / guardians overcome barriers to employment

Background:

Since BC published its Families First Agenda for BC in 2012, families and employers anticipated support for childcare access and affordability. Recent study findings suggest that rather than improving, accessibility is decreasing while fees are increasing challenging those most in need of assistance in gaining full employment.

In 2014, Surrey Board of Trade successfully raised the issue and gained national support at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to request that the federal government

  1. Work with the provinces and territories to fully examine the potential impact on productivity and the Canadian GDP of a countrywide system of Child care with possible implications for child care rates and spaces
  2. The findings and policy recommendations associated with the aforementioned study should be delimited by, and respect, provincial jurisdictional limitations as well as fiscal considerations, associated with the implementation of child care policy.

The Surrey Board of Trade used the work of Dr. Paul Kershaw who found that work-life conflicts of parents raising young children is actually costly for employers with resulting higher absenteeism rates, greater turnover, and increased use of employer funded extended health benefits. Further, the cost to BC business community, according to Kershaw, is over $600 million annually and over $4 billion for Canadian businesses. These costs are exasperated by the costs to the Canadian health care system of over $2.5 billion and child welfare of over $1.2 billion. Inadequate child care is too costly to ignore.

Issue:

Finding adequate, safe care for children in one of the fastest growing cities in BC continues to be a major challenge for Surrey’s employees. Most care is a patchwork that provides insufficient early childhood education stimulus or simply warehouses children in a neighbour’s basement. The stress and challenge of childcare concerns do have a profound impact on an employee’s morale, productivity and ability to be fully employed.

According to First Call’s 2015 report card, BC’s rate of child poverty remains consistently higher than the national average, increasing dramatically for children of recent immigrants, aboriginal identity, female lone-parent families, racialized families, or with a disability. Child poverty is a misnomer of family poverty as children do not choose poverty but are in families experiencing under employment or unemployment.

Access to safe affordable child care is seen as a primary support mechanism to raise families out of poverty as it would allow single parents an opportunity to find and keep a job, give immigrant families opportunities to attend integration support programs, and address other barriers that families experience.

However, in BC as of 2012, only 18% of children under 12 had access to a regulated child care space, which is less than the Canadian average of 20.5%. Unregulated care arrangements include family members through to neighbourhood small care-givers, with no standards for safety or quality.

Using First Call’s most recent figures, BC invested $398 / year for regulated spaces, which is substantially less than the Canadian average of $838 / year (including Quebec; without Quebec, the average is $436). Further, BC’s investment decreased by $16 million between 2011 and 2012. As a result, parent fees are higher on average across all age groups in Canada. Fees are a major barrier to employment even with subsidies that may be available to parents/guardians that apply — although acceptance criteria is unclear.

Facts:

The following highlights were compiled by the Surrey Child Care Task Force, of which Surrey Board of Trade is a member.

Population Growth

  • Surrey has BC’s largest child population and highest birth rate
  • School District 36 is the largest district in BC with approximately 70,000 students
  • Over 35,000 children are 0-5 years old in Surrey, equal in number to the 3rd largest school district in BC
  • Over 41,000 children are 6-12 years old

Labour Force participation

  • 1976: under 40% of mothers with children under 16 were in the paid labour force
  • In 2012: over 73% of mothers are in paid labour force and is continuing to climb
  • The rate for mothers with a child under 3 years has increased from 28% to almost 70% in the same time period

Child poverty (2013)

  • BC Child Poverty: 20.4% (after tax)
  • Depth of poverty has increased – average gap $11,000 below the Low Income Measure
  • 31.8% of poor children live in families with at lest one adult working full-time

Child Care in Surrey

  • Only 12.4 spaces for every 100 children aged 0-12 years, which is the second worst ration in Lower Mainland
  • BC averages 24 spaces for every 100 children
  • After school care and under 3 years old care is in serious deficit
  • Very few facilities serve more than one age group
  • 93% of available childcare is commercial
  • Child care fees as high as $1850 per month for under 3 and up to $1550 for over 3 care, and is the second largest expense in a family’s budget

Recommendations:

  1. That the BC government, in alignment with its Families Agenda document, increase investment in secure, comprehensive childcare facilities and spaces that are accessible and affordable
  2. To assist families out of poverty and increase employment and skill building opportunities by coordinating childcare access and affordability with those programs that help parents / guardians overcome barriers to employment

The issue: Business and Health Care

What it’s about: The Social Policy team members began to research the perceived differences between per capita funding of Fraser Health Authority (the largest of the five provincial health authorities) in comparison with Vancouver Coastal. This led to the determination of four key priorities identified by Surrey Board of Trade members

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that challenge workplace productivity:  access to primary care workers (e.g., family doctors, health clinics); mental illness and health; elder care; and, community and workplace wellness. In order to take action, more information was required.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Over the past year, the Surrey Board of Trade held four Surrey Leadership Dialogues on Business and Healthcare with panelists presenting on primary care, workplace mental health, senior caregiver impacts, and opportunities for wellness programs. Further, SBOT teamed with several 4th year Kwantlen Polytechnic Nursing students who developed and implemented a survey of SBOT membership and interviewed a number of members.

The result: Dialogue findings and research results are incorporated in a report that will be presented to the SBOT Board Directors early in 2016 with recommendations for further action.


The issue: New schools needed for Surrey

What it’s about: Surrey, along with many communities in the South Fraser region, has been dramatically under-resourced in terms of elementary and secondary school facilities. The school district was forced to use a disproportionate number of student portable classrooms this negatively impacted the school district’s budget, as these

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$100 thousand portables were not considered capital facilities and were therefore the responsibility of the school district to provide. As well, most of these portables were without bathroom facilities and were not as conducive to learning as main building classrooms.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Over the last decade the Surrey Board of Trade has been lobbying the provincial government to readress the facilities imbalance in Surrey vis-a-vis the rest of the province, by releasing a position paper in partnership with the School District, the PACs, and the Post-Secondary institutions in 2011.

The result: An announcement in February 2013 said a new Secondary School will be built in the North Clayton area of Surrey. The school, to be built on property purchased that month, is expected to begin construction early 2014 with possible completion in the Spring of 2016.


The issue: Post-Secondary Funding

REPORT: EDUCATION TODAY – PRODUCTIVITY TOMORROW

What it’s about: It is imperative that the level of access to post-secondary education in Surrey and the South Fraser region be brought up to the level provided to the rest of B.C. The Surrey Board of Trade recognizes the current challenge of funding this initiative in light of fiscal restraint measures required to help balance the provincial

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budget.

There are 940,000 people in Surrey and the South Fraser region, the largest and fastest-growing region of BC. We produce 22% of BC’s high school graduates. However, Surrey students have much less access to post-secondary institutions than students in the rest of BC.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University-Surrey together offer only 12.7 post-secondary spaces for every hundred 18-24 year olds in the region. The rest of B.C. receives almost four times that level of access, with 48.7 spaces for every hundred of these young adults.

The region’s historically low levels of access to local post-secondary spaces – degrees, diplomas, and trades certifications – has led to an environment where many students commute north of the Fraser River for their post-secondary education. But the distance to these facilities and the cost of this commute is a significant barrier. The lack of educational opportunities close to home makes access to post-secondary education particularly difficult for lower-income families.

As a result of the limited number of post-secondary spaces available in our region, more and more students are being turned away from the region’s post-secondary institutions. This is a concern to the Surrey Board of Trade.

Simon Fraser University has had to raise its admissions criteria. For 2012, only applicants who had a high school GPA of 80% or higher can be admitted. Kwantlen Polytechnic University, while in theory an open-access institution, has long waits to enter various programs and has raised some program admissions criteria.

B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook for 2010 to 2020 estimates that 78% of the expected employment openings will require a university degree or some post-secondary education (including trades).

In 2011, only 62% of Surrey’s workforce had any post-secondary education, compared to 71% in the rest of Metro Vancouver. Further education for a greater proportion of recent high school graduates and for the current workforce is of paramount importance for the people of Surrey and for Surrey’s economic and social development.

What the Surrey Board of Trade wants: The Surrey Board of Trade urges the Provincial Government to phase in a tripling of the number of post-secondary student spaces per resident in the South Fraser region from 2014 thru 2025.

Without this action, B.C.’s most populous and fastest growing region may not be capable of harnessing its potential to become a social and economic powerhouse.
With this action, Surrey and the South Fraser region – and the province – will reap many social and economic benefits.

The result: Ongoing advocacy.


The issue: Poverty Reduction Policy for both federal and provincial application.

What it’s about: Poverty increases healthcare costs, policing burdens and diminished educational outcomes. This in turn depresses productivity, labour force flexibility, and economic expansion. This really comes at a huge cost to taxpayers.

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The Surrey Board of Trade has already recognized through previous position papers that homelessness and a lack of accessible and affordable childcare are central issues that challenge our robust economy.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade asked that the Government of Canada, in conjunction with the provinces, design and implement a ‘National Poverty Reduction Strategy’ with goals, objectives and target dates to reduce/eliminate poverty in our country. The ask is to include an ‘Affordable Housing Strategy’ and specifically address a  ‘National Child Care Program’ to enable parents to work and contribute to the economic well-being of their families, communities and country; and asks that all programs dealing with poverty and homelessness are to lift people out of poverty rather than to make living in poverty more manageable; that the Government of British Columbia work cooperatively in a timely fashion with civic governments throughout the province, local community champions, and homebuilders to develop new, innovative and creative ways to convert, buy or build housing stock to develop.

The result: Ongoing advocacy.


The issue: Homelessness – Reallocating federal funding to develop a national plan to end homelessness.

What it’s about: Homelessness is bad for business and the Federal Government does not have a national plan to end homelessness in Canada. Homelessness has a direct financial impact on businesses as it deters customers, damages employee recruitment and retention, harms tourism and discourages companies from setting up

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offices in areas with a visible homeless population. For many municipalities and business communities in Canada, homelessness is a real problem that requires expenditures on security upgrades to maintain the safety of staff and property. Businesses cannot realize their full potential while homelessness exists in their areas, due to reduced revenues through lost sales. The Federal Government needs to develop a new approach, which includes the reallocation of resources to develop a national plan that mandates the Federal Government to end homelessness within a reasonable timeframe.

Homelessness is a business deterrent that negatively affects commercial activity, harms tourism and deters investment. In fact, many businesses have incurred extra costs in response to increased homelessness activity in their area

A national plan to end homelessness will provide the necessary leadership to allow the Federal Government to measure the success of investments on homelessness programs.

Housing the homeless as a first priority is a cost-effective approach to reducing homelessness. Case study evidence shows that vulnerable and at-risk homeless families are more responsive to interventions and social services support after they are in their own housing, rather than while living in temporary/transitional facilities or housing programs. A national plan to end homelessness should adopt a housing-first approach as a best-practice model for reducing homelessness.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Recommendations submitted by the Surrey Board of Trade with the Burnaby Board of Trade:
That the Federal Government:

  1. Reallocate funds, from within the federal budget envelope, to develop a national plan to end homelessness.
  2. Establish a reasonable target for the reduction of homelessness in Canada and set a reasonable timeframe to accomplish this goal.
  3. Maintain the housing-first approach of creating and sustaining affordable and supportive housing as a first priority in the development of the national plan.
  4. Consult with other levels of government and community partners in the development of the national plan.

The result: Accepted as Canadian Chamber Policy. Ongoing observation and advocacy.


The issue: Homelessness – Surrey Business Action Plan.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Created a Surrey Action Plan on Homelessness

What can Surrey businesses, either individually or collectively, do to address this issue?

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  • Educate itself and its employees about homelessness and poverty in Surrey
  • Send a letter to civic, provincial and federal decision-makers to support a national housing program;
  • Ask the Provincial Government and BC Housing Management Commission to increase investment in affordable housing options south of the Fraser;
  • Support the City of Surrey’s plan to permit secondary suites throughout the city. This will assist in housing affordability across all income levels;
  • Acknowledge, support and showcase the efforts of community services providers that show positive results and use good business practices;
  • Support initiatives that address low literacy and education levels as these are associated with increased risk of homelessness;
  • Encourage funding of community-based services for at-risk youth that prevent them becoming chronically homeless;
  • Encourage review of public policy given the double jeopardy of relatively high market rental rates coupled with the low shelter component of provincial income support.
  • Business needs to be involved to make the changes happen.

The result: The Surrey Board of Trade has hosted as part of its ‘Leadership Surrey Series’ – a Business and Homelessness Dialogue from 2011-2013.


The issue: National Census – Long Form.

What it’s about: Surrey Board of Trade position on the census: Needs to be mandatory. A mandatory census is important to business. Working from an informed position allows governments and business to make strategic plans and decisions based on detailed facts and identifiable trends. Without accurate demographic data, planning f

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or programs and services that support business, cultural, social, health care, education, housing, or recreational needs will be made in ignorance and open the door to waste and abuse.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: After conducting a survey of our membership, the Surrey Board of Trade disagrees with the federal government’s decision to replace the mandatory Long Form Census with a shorter, voluntary survey. Like the Canadian Association for Business Economics (CABE) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, we are particularly concerned about the loss of the compulsory Census Long Form as it will undermine and impact the economy, research and innovation initiatives.

The quality of data collected in the census would drop considerably if it was only through voluntary participation. Businesses and governments all depend on data for analysis, making investment and operating decisions. Funding decisions by government are based on census data. Small errors in the data with a voluntary collection could cost provincial and municipal governments millions of dollars. As the CABE stated: “achieving an adequate quality and an appropriate response rate from a voluntary survey will be very challenging and will almost certainly involve more resources than retaining the compulsory Long Form of past censuses. Secondly, the costs of maintaining existing programs in business and government will be increased because of the need to fund new data sources. Thirdly, high quality regional data at the municipal level will be seriously compromised, if not lost entirely in many parts of the country. This will require the development of alternative data sources with an enormous analytical and resource cost as well as a loss in comparability.” The Surrey Board of Trade in addition to our business members (which include universities and not- for-profit/service organizations) do not understand why the government did not solicit our input on this issue. We, with our nation-wide Chamber of Commerce/Board of Trade colleagues, rely on access to accurate census data for economic development and advocacy projects.  Consequently our membership, and by extension our communities, have a significant financial stake in the quality of the data.

If a small and voluntary census takes place, the lack of data and resulting weak decisions will tear at the very fabric of our country. Census information is abrogated at the cost of good governance; privacy issues can be addressed in other ways. We strongly urged the federal government to reverse its decision to eliminate the Census Long Form.

The result: The Surrey Board of Trade made their position clear and was recognized in the media. The Census Long Form was  implemented in 2016. POLICY WIN!


The issue: Minimum Wage.

What it’s about: Responses from a poll of the membership indicated a strong support exists for increasing the minimum wage.

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What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade’s position is: The Surrey Board of Trade supports an increase in the provincial minimum wage to a level more reflective of the cost of living in British Columbia. The increase to the higher level should be made in such a way as to ensure a smooth transition to that level and that the minimum wage be reviewed by government on an annual basis. One idea that was brought forward was the idea of a liveable wage.  British Columbia had become the province with the lowest minimum wage in Canada as well as one of the highest costs of living in the country.  The province of BC now had the lowest minimum wage in the country at $8 per hour, not counting the widely criticized $6 training wage.

The result: Minimum wage was increased by the BC Government. Much of our position was utilized by the BC Government.


The issue: Education Funding – K-12 and Post-Secondary

What It’s about: Surrey Growth Stressing Education Resources – Business Community Seeking Solutions. Education services in Surrey and the South Fraser region, from pre-school to post-secondary, are facing unsustainable stresses, and unless new solutions are found, the rapidly growing population of this region will be significantly

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disadvantaged both socially and economically. This potential outcome has spurred the Surrey Board of Trade to produce a paper on the state of education and its ramifications on the region’s economy titled, Education Today/Productivity Tomorrow.

  • One-third of Surrey residents are under 19 years of age.
  • 20% of all babies in BC are born in Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Surrey growth is approximately 10 thousand people per year
  • Surrey School District is the largest in BC, 5th largest in Canada
  • Over 1,000 new students registered for school each year.
  • Lowest post-secondary rates of participation in the region

These are some of the facts from the presentation of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Education and Business Paper launched in 2011.  About 150 people from the business community heard of the challenges that impact the education system, in the context that the problems are also problems that directly affect business now and for the next decade and longer. As the paper points out, by 2016 one-third of graduating grade12 students will be from a South Fraser secondary school, yet this same region faces an imbalance of funded post-secondary seats of 100 per thousand students versus the provincial average of 244 seats per thousand. Businesses need to become advocates for education, with respect to funding, and seek ways of building a stronger education system by participating in it.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade is seeking participation by the business community to act as champions for education as key indicator of economic success. With their education partners, the Surrey Board of Trade hopes to continue to raise the awareness of the problems facing Surrey and the South Fraser Region.

The Education Today/Productivity Tomorrow Position Paper, and supporting documentation is on the Surrey Board of Trade website.

The result: Meetings with MLA’s, Minister of Education, Minister of Finance – ongoing advocacy and observation at all levels. Some funding received in 2011 and 2012. Post-Secondary Funding Task Force was created.


The project: Tomorrow’s Workplace – Addressing Canada’s Demographic Crunch, Skilled Immigrants

REPORT – TOMORROW’S WORKPLACE – A GUIDE FOR BUSINESS LEADERS

REPORT – TOMORROW’S WORKPLACE – A GUIDE FOR COMMUNITY-SPONSORS

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade is proud to be a part of the Tomorrow’s Workplace project in partnership with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. This project allowed the Surrey Board of Trade to work collaboratively to ensure that our businesses are ready for the future. By 2020 businesses will need different ways to find staff. Canada’s

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workforce is aging as the baby boom generation slides into retirement. The economic fallout of shortages in IT, skilled labour, and health care could be devastating. We need to prepare our businesses – small or large, now! Tomorrow’s Workplace was multi-sponsored project in British Columbia linking the Business community, the Surrey Board of Trade, five unique test business-employee models, and an educational/consultant research team. The mandate was research, communication and collaboration, and finally, a toolkit to enable future development in communities across Canada.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Tomorrow’s Workplace Guide will make it easier for business to create solutions, to identify the workforce they need, to anticipate change, and to have a diverse workforce. The project is unique because it brings the community together to show how business and employment service provider organizations can work together to benefit their workplaces and the community.

The result: Business Tools were created: Business Guide, Community Guide and Facilitator’s Guide. Continued promotion.


The project: Tap Into Talent – Skills Shortage Tool.

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade endorses and participates in the Tap Into Talent (www.tapintotalent.ca) initiative as hosted by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC. Along with other employer partners, which include the Community Savings Credit Union, Goldcorp, HSBC, Investors Group, M&R Environmental, Microsoft

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Game Studios, Port Metro Vancouver, Schneider Electric, Schenker Logistics, Safeway, Westminster Savings Credit Union, we have committed as a partner and participant in the program to support the Tap Into Talent resource website and the Skills International hiring resource for employers. The Surrey Board of Trade, so far, is the only Board of Trade/Chamber of Commerce noted as a partner and participant.

Tap Into Talent is an online tool to help employers attract, hire and retain skilled workers in the face of current skill shortages. Employers can access a database of skilled landed immigrants that are pre-qualified for appropriate certifications, credentials and English language skills. The candidate database is available at no charge to the employer, who can screen, interview and hire at will.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: We endorsed this program and supported it.

The result: Ongoing support.


The project: Embracing Cultural Diversity in the BC Workplace Demonstration Project Launched

What it’s about: DIVERSEcity Community Resources and its Advisory Team for the Embracing Cultural Diversity in the BC Workplace Demonstration Project getintheknow.ca.

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“We launched a one of a kind employer and community resource – www.getintheknow.ca   – an all in one stop shop – created in Surrey, that will help solve looming labour shortages and make BC’s economy more competitive at a global level. This leadership project will help businesses (a) Access new markets and new employees. (b) Improve customer service. (c) Gain experience. (d) and Create dynamic workplaces,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, Both employers and potential employees can access the latest tips, strategies and research at www.getintheknow.ca. They can base future diversity policies on a new workplace guidebook. A series of training sessions in the Lower Mainland will provide training to both employers and new immigrants. “There are all kinds of information and tools here that employers have never had before.”

Canada’s economy is experiencing big changes. Retiring baby boomers in BC will help create more than a million job openings by 2015. Canada’s low birth rate has not produced enough workers to replace them. Employers in Surrey and beyond can keep their businesses competitive by recruiting, hiring and training more new immigrants. This is a reality. These workers have skills and experiences from all over the world. They’re full of new ideas, perspectives and talent. New immigrant workers also belong to fast-growing immigrant communities. They speak different languages, and understand other cultures. They know how to connect to those communities. That is evident right here in Surrey, where 49% of our population has a mother tongue other than English.

There are many clear benefits to creating culturally diverse workforces. This resource, called ‘Get in the Know’ will provide businesses with the tools and strategies to hire and retain a more diverse workforce. This will build inclusion in the workplace and give resources to support employers in the hiring process.

The project was funded by the Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development. The Project Advisory Board consisted of business leaders including the Surrey Board of Trade, stakeholders and service agencies that are helping make Surrey a provincial leader in workplace diversity. Each member has deep ties to the community and understands the benefits of a multicultural society. Throughout the project the Advisory Board met to share their experiences and perspectives, provide input and direction to new resources and develop sound approaches for inclusive workforces.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade, through their CEO, was an Advisory Board member. The Surrey Board of Trade supported this program and utilized the membership for key usage of this tool.

The result: Funding for the 2nd phase is currently being worked on by DiverseCity in this collaborative community project.


The issue: Early Childhood Development and Smart Family Policy.

What it’s about: The stock of human capital in British Columbia is key to its long-term economic success. This means early child development is a critical issue for business leaders, because the years before age six set in motion factors that will determine the quality of the future labour force. Today, only 71% of BC children arrive at

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kindergarten meeting all of the developmental benchmarks they need to thrive both now and into the future: 29% are developmentally vulnerable.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did:

Created an Action Plan:

Education

Compile family-friendly activities & validate/document their efforts, gather member perspectives on specific “family- friendly” tools and sponsor a conference.

Advocacy

Promote members issues to appropriate local, provincial, federal levels, develop policy position statements, select partners and collaborate on specific issues and sponsor a conference.

Engagement

Develop a resource guide on where engagement opportunities exist and promote opportunities for engagement.

The Surrey Board of Trade joined the call to Government Leaders for a Smart Family Policy:
Call to action: The high early vulnerability rate in BC sounds a warning that the current approach to supporting families with young children comes at significant costs to British Columbians; it costs BC businesses on their bottom line; and it costs society now and for generations to come. We call on Leadership Canadidates to address the Family Policy Deficit:

Families need smart family policy to provide more time, more services and/or more income. Businesses need smart family policy to improve their bottom line. Society needs a smart family policy to advance gender equality, population health, crime reduction and a fair start for kids.

The result: Ongoing advocacy and observation.


The project: Healthy Workplace.

What it’s about: A comprehensive approach to managing a healthy workplace recognizes the need for an overall health and workplace safety policy. Further, successful organizations realize that managing health within the workplace is an important management function, and that the results have a direct impact on competitiveness and

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the bottom line.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Created a Healthy Workplace Award, the first of its kind in BC.

The result: Will be creating a second phase of the Healthy Workplace Plan in partnership with the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

In progress.


The issue: Business and Families.

What it’s about: Canada has become a country in which it is far harder to raise a young family, even though the country’s economy has doubled in size since the mid-1970’s, producing, on average an extra $35,000 per household.  Despite this additional prosperity, the average household income for young Canadian couples has

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flat-lined (after adjusting for inflation) even though the share of young women contributing to household incomes today is up 53 per cent. With their stalled incomes, young families must pay far higher housing prices, which increased 76 per cent across the country since the mid-1970’s.

The generation raising young children today is squeezed for time at home, squeezed for income because of the high cost of housing, and squeezed for services like child care that would help them balance earning a living with raising a family.  Yet, international comparisons consistently rank Canada among the worst industrialized countries when it comes to investing in young families.  Canada’s slow policy response to the decline in the standard of living for the generation raising young kids is not consistent with our proud tradition of building and adapting policy in response to our social and economic environment. – a proud tradition that includes public schools and universities, veterans’ benefits, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and the Canada Medical Care Act.

The Context For Surrey

Growth & Diversity

Surrey is a young city that is growing at a phenomenal pace of 900 new families per month coming to live here and is projected to surpass Vancouver’s population in the next 8 years. Population projections depict that the overall population will increase from 483,260 in 2011 to 578,830 by 2021 – an increase of 95,570 people over a 10 year period. Considering the exponential growth that has already occurred in the last ten year period from 2000 (370,630) to 2010 (474,070) an increase of more than 100,000 people, it seems likely that even these projections are highly conservative.

In particular, over the next ten years, selected town centres such as Cloverdale are projected to grow (from 62,490 to 79,650); Newton (from 126,810 to 151,260) and South Surrey (from 79,660 to 104,890). Combined, South Surrey and Newton equals the entire population of the City of Burnaby (202,799).  Immigrants comprise almost 40% (151,000) of the population in Surrey; the majority reside in Newton (about 50,000), Whalley (about 36,000) and Guildford (about 23,000). More than 41% of all refugees to BC reside in Surrey.

The Most Children: the Most to Gain & the Most to Lose

With the largest number of children and youth than anywhere else in B.C. (approximately 110,000 as of 2006 census), Surrey’s school district has experienced unprecedented growth with 873 new students enrolled in 2011 for a total of 70,018  students in 127 schools, of which 38,662 are in elementary schools.  We have 23 Strong Starts operating out of 22 schools throughout the District; and a Community School Partnership with 4 Community School coordinators working with 17 community schools. Through the City’s Community Recreation Services, we have developed nine multigenerational sites, one stand alone youth centre and 2 new facilities – Kensington Prairie Early Years Community Centre and Cloverdale Recreation Centre recently opened.  Along with the current and extensive library services & programs for children, youth and families the new City Centre Library has excelled in its creation of child and youth friendly spaces and programs.

The Links between Affordable Housing – Family Debt & Child Care

Recent research reports through the CGCA of Canada, the Payroll Association of Canada, the Vanier Institute of the Family and the Conference Board of Canada all consistently refer to the increasing family debt load for Canadian families and the crunch to find both affordable housing and child care for those with young families.

According to the CGA Canada (June 2011) report, “households with an income of $50,000 and under were six times more likely to be financially vulnerable in terms of debt-service ratio.  Single-parent families were the only category where debt increases with age, and they have two-thirds more debt than couples with no children”. British Columbia stood out as the province with one of the highest household debt-service burdens in 2009. Households in that province paid 9.4% of their disposable income to service debt interest payments”. In three provinces – Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan – the number of mortgages in arrears continued to increase in 2010 while declining in all other provinces. In 2010, Surrey ranked #4 in the “Top Canadian Investment Cities” study by the Real Estate Investment Network.   In 2009, Surrey was named the #1 place in BC to invest in real estate by the Real Estate Investment Network.

Based on the 2011 Child Care Gap Assessment by the Children’s Partnership of Surrey-White Rock, Surrey has only nine licensed spaces for every 100  children aged 0 – 6. According to a Metro Vancouver Child Care report (2011), Surrey and Langley have the lowest ratio of spaces to children (compared to West Vancouver with 25 spaces for every 100 children and Vancouver with 18 spaces for every 100 children.

The Costs To Business And Community

The Implications For Business: Higher Costs, Lower Productivity

Since parents are an integral part of the labour market, the business community pays a price when employees with young kids bring their time and service squeeze to their jobs.  The work-life conflict experienced by parents raising young children today is costly for employers.  The result is higher absenteeism rates for this group of employees, greater turnover, and increased use of extended health benefits – all of which employers pay for.

In collaboration with Warren Beach (CFO) and his CA colleagues at Sierra Systems, UBC’s Dr. Paul Kershaw and his team estimated that work-life conflict among employees with preschool-aged children costs the B.C. business community in excess of $600 million annually, and the Canadian business community more than $4 billion.  The stress from work-life conflict among adults with young kids costs the Canadian health care system 2.5 billion annually, and the child welfare system another 1.2 billion per year.

In addition to these direct costs to business, the ‘squeeze’ experienced by families today also contributes to rising costs of crime, poverty, education and health care.  Over the long term, research shows that Canada’s inaction in support of the generation raising young kids is compromising the quality of our future labour force and our competitiveness. A 2009 study commissioned by the Business Council of BC reports that unnecessary vulnerability among the Generation raising young kids is the real brain drain, costing the BC economy $401 billion. The pan-Canadian cost is closer to $2 trillion. For children under age six, child care services cost most parents the equivalent of a second mortgage, even though researchers raise concerns about the quality of many services. The cost of regulated child care services erodes take-home pay for employed parents more than taxes do.

In Surrey, 32% of children in kindergarten are considered vulnerable and not ready for school in terms of their physical development, social maturity, or ABCs/123s. (For Canada, 27% are considered vulnerable). These kids are more likely to go to jail, and less likely to earn grades to go to post-secondary schools. At least two-thirds of this early vulnerability could be avoided.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Recommendations To Provincial Government (these would also apply to the Federal Government also):

Families need a New Deal to provide more time at home for moms and dads with newborns, $10/day child care services, and flex-time that enables employers and employees to balance successfully earning a living and raising a family.

The Surrey Board of Trade recommends that the Provincial and Federal Governments implement the following policy recommendations:

CHILD CARE SUPPORTS
Reform the child care subsidy system so that parents pay no more than $10/day (full-time) and $7/day (part-time) making it free for families earning less than $40,000/year. Ensure quality services by providing funding for ample caregivers on site so that children spend their time in developmentally stimulating activities and play, including children with extra support needs. Caregivers will have appropriate training in child development and will be paid pay equity wages.

FLEXIBLE & FAMILY FRIENDLY WORKPLACES
Create and implement tax incentives to support employers to develop family friendly workplaces that include features such Family Responsibility Leave, a culture that supports work life balance, alternative work arrangements, and recognition of child and elder care issues.

HEALTHY CHILD CHECK IN
Introduce a healthy child check-in and parenting support program during a child’s first 18 months.

PARENTAL LEAVE
Conduct additional research and explore how to extend parental leave beyond 12 months.

The result: We have lobbied to the Provincial and Federal Governments. In progress.


The project: Immigration/Skill Shortages.

What it’s about: Surrey has a rapidly growing immigrant population, yet employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find and retain talent. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important to work with employers to develop solutions to more efficiently and effectively connect employers with the talent they need. These solutions will

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benefit Surrey’s economy and offset the growing number of retirees, as the population ages and as residents leave the workforce.

Business, small and large, need to seriously think about the skills that they need to make their products and sell their products and services. A global talent shortage is poised to hit employers by as early as 2015. This means we will require a significant influx of talent to counter the rate at which our aging population is leaving the workforce. Employers in BC will become increasingly reliant on skilled immigrants to remain competitive in this changing economy. Integrating immigrant talent is critical to BC’s future economic prosperity. However, we need to see this talent pool not as a temporary economic remedy, but as a new reality about our diverse community that will unquestionably affect the way we hire and conduct business now and for the foreseeable future. We are taking a sector-based and regional approach to develop solutions that address the labour market needs of employers in BC. This is why we are meeting with employers in regions across BC to obtain feedback on how to more effectively attract, hire and retain immigrant talent.

Surrey’s visible minority population in 2010 was 182,860 or 38.3 per cent of the city’s total population and 24.8 per cent of the provincial population. Population growth in Surrey was higher than the provincial rate (2.9 per cent increase between 2005 and 2010, compared to 1.5 per cent) and Surrey’s business community has identified immigrant employment as a top business priority in the region.

With support from the Surrey Board of Trade, IEC-BC has invited businesses operating in Surrey, and the surrounding region, to participate in a guided focus-group that is expected to yield recommendations that will inform the development of provincial and federal programs and policies that support immigrant labour market integration in BC, where appropriate. This feedback will also assist IEC-BC in building concrete tools, resources and effective practices for employers, especially SMEs, that would benefit their bottom line and ultimately grow BC’s economy.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Employers representing businesses in the Surrey region met for an employer consultation, one of 15 sessions being held across the province, to obtain feedback and advice from BC employers on attracting, hiring and retaining skilled immigrants. Lead by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC), with funding from the Province of BC, the purpose of the consultation is to better understand the labour market needs of the Surrey region as part of an overall effort to develop more effective solutions that address the hiring challenges of businesses in BC.

Surveys in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to gauge issues from the local business community were sent out.

The result: Ongoing engagement with business community.


The issue: Gaming Grants

What it’s about: As part of a reduction strategy by the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, some agencies that were able to qualify previously for funding are no longer permitted to apply for funding. In addition, the bingo affiliation grants were rolled into an annual community gaming grant application process, their three-year term

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grants were being phased out, and their allotments reduced to under $100,000. Some of the organizations that applied in 2010 found that the amounts they were traditionally given were reduced considerably. In some cases this meant staff layoffs and downsizing of services often related to the most vulnerable in our society such as abused women, the homeless, seniors and children. To exacerbate this situation for these agencies, little or no notice was given and as a result these agencies did not have the opportunity to seek funding through other sources if available.

Our business members who provide some community funding were inundated with higher than usual requests for funding. Because of the economic downturn that impacted all businesses, these corporations were unable to help many excellent programs. The Business community was unable to make up funds that these agencies had lost. In addition, this event happened when the grant process had already been completed by businesses and the existing money had been dispersed.

Gaming in Canada has been linked to the not-for-profit sector since its inception in 1960. The public was prepared to tolerate gaming activities such as bingo if the proceeds were to be used by non-profit agencies that benefitted the community. Gaming expansion has always been justified by this relationship. In the Gambling in Canada Research Report Number 9, the author notes “that not-for-profit funding is a vital component of provincial gambling policies and that expansion initiatives are intended to enhance, not threaten, the gambling revenues available to the charitable sector,” and, “the public is less supportive when the expansion is for the simple sake of a tax grab.”

The business community not only recognizes not-for-profits for their good work but for their economic benefit as well. John Restakis in his paper Defining the Social Economy -­‐ The BC Context January 2006 states “BC non-­‐profits generate $11 billion in revenue and employ 147,000 people. This compares to $16 billion reported by BC’s manufacturing sector, which employs 167,000. BC’s non-­profits also reported the use of 1.5 Million volunteers who in turn contribute an estimated 114.3 million hours of work to these organizations.” The erosion of the not-for-profit sector is an erosion of the provinces economic well being.

If government had to pick up the social services provided by our not-for-profit sector, the costs to BC would be considerably more than what is spent through gaming funds. The leveraging of volunteer time is one of the factors that make non-profits cost effective. Most of these organizations are lean with salaries that are historically low. Another point to consider is whether these societies will be able to find the lost funding. Many businesses and foundations that fund not-for-profits are project oriented and require the project to be completed within a year. Only a few funding organizations will permit funds to be used to maintain the organization. Many charities appreciated the gaming funds because they could be used to maintain the organization.

Some organizations have engaged in social enterprise in an effort to generate sustainable income. This is a movement which we support as it helps societies continue their charitable giving despite funding fluctuations. The “enp” (enterprising not-for-profits) organization has been providing grants, expertise and education to not for profits who wish to engage in social enterprise. Some of our member organizations such as Vancity and Coast Capital Savings are partners in this endeavour. The BC Government has provided a one-year grant to develop a tool kit for charities. The BC Advisory Council on Social Enterprise is working with this organization, a move that we support. The Surrey Board of Trade also asked for an increase in funding their grant capability to encourage entrepreneurship in the not-for-profit sector.

Given these factors it is hard to understand the decision made to reduce funding to these organizations over the past two years. In fact the funding percentages of the consolidated revenue given to charitable organizations were 17% in 2009‐2010 and 20% in 2010-­2011 as compared to 35% in 2001-­2002 and 34% in 2002-­2003. If this continues, the societal cost to replace what not-for-profit organizations do will increase dramatically.

From our work with the non-profit sector we are aware that sustainable funding is a major issue.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Our member non-profit agencies brought to our attention their concerns about the reduction of gaming.

The Surrey Board of Trade recommends:

Amend the Gaming Control Act to permit the General Manager to dedicate annually an amount equal to 30% of the gaming funds deposited to general revenue to qualified charities.

Reinstitute the policy of three-­year grants, which will reduce the administrative burden on both the charities and the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.
The General Manager adjusts the local and provincial caps on the amount a charity can receive in accordance with the projected three-year funding levels. Right now there are societies who will be experiencing a considerable cut to their gaming grant as the result of the $100,000 local cap and the $250,000 provincial cap.
The Gaming Control Act be amended to permit the General Manager to dedicate annually an amount equal to 2% of the gaming funds deposited to general revenue to the development of social entrepreneurship and that this money be granted to “enp” (enterprising non-profits), a portion to be for distribution to qualified not-for-profits to develop a social enterprise to provide sustainable income and a portion to provide educational programs to assist these charities in the development of a social enterprise.

We are also concerned about the section in the Gaming Control Act that permits the Minister to “issue written directives to the lottery corporation on matters of general policy.” The provision to make these directives available through the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch during business hours is not providing sufficient oversight. The Regulations direct the General Manager to post these directives on the web site for 12 months. We would suggest that these directives after the 12-­month period be available for public consultation through an accessible archive section on the web site.

The result: Presented to Provincial Gaming Grant Review Committee. Ongoing.


The issue: Corporate Vote

What it’s about: Should businesses be able to vote? The argument against it is, basically, One Person, One Vote: if managers already vote as individuals, why should a business get an additional vote? The argument is that because businesses pay higher taxes, they should have more influence. It’s worth noting however that one proposal

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on the table would only see those business owners who do not already have a ballot to cast in the municipality given a vote as a business. Should businesses – which pay taxes, buy permits, and have to abide by the rules of their municipality – be able to cast a vote in civic elections? Or does the idea encroach on the essence of democracy, that is, the rule of people by the people?

What did the Surrey Board of Trade do? Issued a position: The position of the Surrey Board of Trade is that we do not support corporate voting.

The result: Corporate voting is not in place.