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

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Most Read