ICBA Economics with Jock Finlayson

ICBA Economics


ICBA Chief Economist Jock Finlayson researches and analyzes the vital economic data you need to know to grow your construction business.

Jock's Top Story

There were few surprises in the Fall 2023 Economic Statement delivered by federal Finance Minister Crystia Freeland on November 21. The Liberal government is not deviating from its well-established penchant for hefty spending hikes and endless budget deficits.


Based on the revised forecast presented by the Minister, federal policymakers are planning for a steady flow of red ink over the balance of the decade, notwithstanding the huge increase in debt caused by the 2020-21 COVID-induced hit to Canada’s public finances. Compared to the fiscal outlook in the spring 2023 Budget, the government is now expecting to spend another $8 billion or so every year from 2024-25 through 2027-28. This means bigger operating deficits and a larger debt than the Finance Minister was projecting only several months ago.


The Trudeau years will be known as a time of rapid debt accumulation.  Whereas Ottawa’s net debt amounted to about 30% of Canada’s GDP when Mr. Trudeau assumed office in 2015, today it stands at over 42%. And if the economy underperforms the relatively optimistic forecasts being used by Minister Freeland, the debt/GDP ratio could very well rise further. In particular, we suspect the government’s future cost of borrowing could easily be higher than the relatively low 3.1-3.3% rates assumed for 10-year government bonds in the Economic Statement…

What Chris and Jock are reading:

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The Macdonald-Laurier Institute makes a compelling case that the way to meet Canada’s climate commitments is to move foreign markets from producing power via coal to Canadian liquefied natural gas instead.
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Desjardins looks at immigration and temporary foreign workers and fears a worst-case scenario for net nonpermanent resident admissions could cut up to 1.3 percentage points from Canada’s real economic growth next year.
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CD Howe looks at the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in job creation and economic growth. Their contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product was, on average, 53 percent a year between 2014 and 2018.

ICBA's Construction Monitor

Winter 2023

We will only achieve currently targeted greenhouse gas emis-sions reductions in British Columbia by inflicting severe damage to our economy and a punishing hit to living standards. That harsh conclusion flows directly from modeling that the provincial government itself commissioned on its CleanBC plan.

The Business Council of British Columbia recently ferreted out this analysis that had been buried deep on the environment ministry’s website. It shows the expected impacts of provincial climate-related policies in place in 2017, combined with the additional restrictions, tax hikes, regulations, and subsidies the NDP has put in place since coming to power in mid-2017.

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About Jock Finlayson

Jock Finlayson is Chief Economist for the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), Canada’s largest construction association. He is the first Chief Economist in ICBA’s 50-year history. Analyzing industry trends, market conditions, and economic factors to provide insights and forecasts relevant to the construction sector, he advises ICBA and its members on developments in the business and policy environment affecting the construction sector and the broader economy and assists in strategic planning and public policy advocacy.


Previously, Mr. Finlayson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the Business Council of British Columbia. In that capacity, he directed the Business Council’s work on economic, fiscal, tax, environmental, regulatory, and human capital issues of interest to the largest employers in the province and the wider business community.


Prior to returning to B.C. in 1994, Mr. Finlayson was Vice President of Research at the Business Council of Canada, a leading business association in Ottawa.


Mr. Finlayson holds a master’s degree in business from Yale University, undergraduate and M.A. degrees from UBC, and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Royal Roads University.


He is the author/coauthor of two books and more than 50 published articles, book chapters and monographs. A frequent commentator on economic, business, and public policy issues, Mr. Finlayson writes regularly for Business in Vancouver, the Globe and Mail, The Orca, Black Press, Troy Media, and Postmedia.


From 2007 to 2013, Mr. Finlayson was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Canada, where he chaired the Corporate Governance Committee and the Fellowship Committee and served on both the Pension Committee and the Human Resources Committee. He is a past member of the National Statistics Council, the principal advisory body to the Chief Statistician of Canada, and previously sat on the Boards of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Canada West Foundation, and Genome BC. From 2019 to 2021, he was a member of the Expert Panel on Housing Supply and Affordability jointly appointed by the B.C. and federal governments.


Mr. Finlayson is a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, a Fellow of Royal Roads University, and past president of both the Association of Professional Economists of B.C. and the Ottawa Economics Association. He resides in West Vancouver with his wife Marlene.