B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announces formation of a new Crown corporation called InBC to manage $500 million in public funds to help startup companies expand, B.C. legislature, April 27, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announces formation of a new Crown corporation called InBC to manage $500 million in public funds to help startup companies expand, B.C. legislature, April 27, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

Opposition questions B.C.’s ‘people-planet-profit’ investment fund

Low investment returns, high tax rates for entrepreneurs cited

Despite a deficit of nearly $10 billion this year, the B.C. government has devoted a half billion dollars over three years to an Crown corporation investment fund with a broad range of goals: homegrown technology companies, high-paying jobs, a cleaner environment, promoting diversity and advancing Indigenous reconciliation.

B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon calls InBC a “people-planet-profit” investment fund, offering “patient capital” to help startups expand rather than be bought up by international players. The investment fund was promised in Premier John Horgan’s “StrongerBC” economic recovery plan, launched last fall days before a surprise election call.

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone, who founded a Kamloops software company before he was elected as an MLA, questioned Kahlon this week about B.C.’s competitiveness for attracting and retaining entrepreneurs and skilled workers, including tax rates on high earners.

“When the facts are that a software developer earns $27,000 less in British Columbia than they do in Ontario to start with, when we’re staring down lower income tax rates next door in Alberta — when we’re staring down no income tax in the state of Washington…. These are all our competitors,” Stone told the B.C. legislature May 18.

B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen questioned Kahlon on the need for “strategic capital” that isn’t looking for a quick return. Olsen agreed with Stone that the COVID-19 pandemic put investment on hold around the world, and asked if now is the time for “putting $500 million of public money into a space that has billions and billions of dollars of private capital looking to be spent.”

RELATED: B.C. launches $500M fund to support green business

RELATED: Horgan calls for private investment at B.C. Tech Summit

Kahlon said the fund is to assist companies to grow without being taken over and leaving B.C. to expand. “We’ve heard the most amount of excitement from the clean tech sector, which sees an opportunity for them to access capital and stay here in British Columbia,” he said.

When InBC was launched April 27, the ministry said its target was a modest annual return of five per cent on public money invested. A board of directors has since been appointed, chaired by VanCity CEO Christine Bergeron and including former finance minister Carole James, Susan Trottier, vice president of First Nations Bank Trust, and Iglika Ivanova, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Deputy jobs minister Bobbi Plecas and deputy finance minister Heather Wood are also directors, with a chief investment officer to be appointed this fall.

The NDP government created InBC by converting a dormant Crown corporation started by the previous B.C. Liberal administration in 2001, called the B.C. Immigrant Investment Fund. Its purpose was to receive federal money from its immigrant investor program to make low-interest loans for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, and Ottawa ended that program in 2014.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

Just Posted

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read