British Columbia's jobs plan will build on the Province's solid foundation of prudent fiscal management to attract investment and open new markets for B.C. products and services, defending and creating jobs for British Columbians, Premier Christy Clark said today.
"British Columbia has incredible advantages that make us unique in the world," said Clark. "The world's biggest markets are on our doorstep, we have a multicultural population, world-class infrastructure, sound fiscal fundamentals and a wealth of natural and intellectual resources. We are building on our position of strength and never has this been more important than now, given the global economic uncertainty we are facing. Building on our strengths is what Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan will do."
Clark released Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan following three days of announcements:
* In Prince Rupert, the Premier committed $15 million toward the Road Rail Utility corridor project, phase one of a multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the Port of Prince Rupert.
* In Kitimat, Clark announced four steps to ensuring the liquefied natural gas plant is operational by 2015.
* In Kamloops, Clark announced the Province will increase the number of international students in B.C. by 50 per cent over the next four years, as well as steps to ensure British Columbians are able to get the skills training and education they need to fill job openings.
* In Surrey, the Premier said the government is expanding access to venture capital tax credits and extending tax credits available to apprentices and employers.
Three pillars are at the heart of the jobs plan:
* Expanding markets for B.C. products and services, particularly in Asia.
* Strengthening infrastructure to get our goods and services to market.
* Working with communities and employers to enable job creation.
Underlying these pillars are continuing commitments to ensure skills and training programs lead the way to the jobs of tomorrow and to maintain a prudent and fiscally responsible approach that our economy needs - and taxpayers deserve. To accelerate growth, the jobs plan also leverages the strengths of B.C.'s most competitive sectors to bring new dollars into the economy from the province's most important trading partners. Those sectors are: forestry, mining, natural gas, agri-foods, technology, tourism, transportation and international education.
The Premier made a number of announcements today in a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade, with a focus on boosting British Columbia's exports and making it easier for businesses that want to invest in B.C.:
* The Province will invest $50 million to improve the provincially owned corridor that connects Deltaport to Canada's rail transportation network. This investment is part of the planned $200-million Deltaport Terminal, Road and Rail Infrastructure Project in support of increased container capacity. The expansion will add 600 to 800 new jobs to port operations.
* The Province will provide almost $24 million to reduce the time it takes for businesses wanting to invest in natural resource development to get decisions on approvals and permits. This will be done without compromising environmental values or the requirement to consult with First Nations. Once the permit and approval backlog is reduced, the target for turnaround on new "notices of work" for mines will be 60 days.
* The Province is committed to eight new mines and the expansion of another nine mines currently operating in British Columbia by 2015. This growth is anticipated to generate an increase of $1.6 billion of additional revenue per year to government once these projects are fully operational. This will also create approximately 1,800 new and sustain more than 5,000 direct-mining jobs in the province.
* The Province will create a Major Investments Office at the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation that will work with investors proposing significant projects in B.C. to co-ordinate and accelerate government's activities to support them.
* A new BC Jobs and Investment Board will be created that will include representation from different parts of B.C. and will be mandated to promote economic development by promoting investment opportunities and identifying any issues and processes that may be limiting that investment. The BC Jobs and Investment Board will be up and running within 60 days.
* To improve relationships between Aboriginal communities, industry and government, as well as help implement practical measures for economic development, the government will create an Aboriginal Business and Investment Council. The council will enhance Aboriginal people's capacity for economic participation, transcend traditional Aboriginal and industry silos in project planning and development and provide investors with the tools they need to engage and partner with B.C. First Nations.
* The Province will provide over $5 million in improvements to ensure commercial carriers and travellers have information to make border- route planning decisions that will save them time and money.
"This announcement today is a significant investment into Deltaport, which is essential for B.C.'s position as the gateway to Asian markets and for Canada's success as a trading nation," said Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird. "But it is equally important that national infrastructure, such as Deltaport, also benefit local communities through the creation of long-term jobs and economic activity. TFN is excited about building our partnerships with Port Metro Vancouver and British Columbia, to ensure that national infrastructure provides benefits that are felt in local communities."
"Port Metro Vancouver is the cornerstone of Canada's Pacific Gateway," said Robin Silvester, president and CEO, Port Metro Vancouver. "The Premier's commitment to this vital infrastructure investment enables us to reliably support growing international trade in an efficient and sustainable way. With this critical funding commitment in place, we can now focus on meaningful consultation on the proposed project with municipalities, communities and the public."
"Streamlining the permitting process and reducing the backlog of authorizations is one of the most important things the province can do to help industry compete," said West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. CEO Hank Ketcham. "This investment will allow companies to spend more of their time and effort generating economic activity, which means more people working in B.C.'s resource sector."
"The mining industry is very encouraged to see government investing in its internal resources which allow private sector economic activity to occur," said Mining Association of B.C. chair John McManus. "The ability for government to provide vigorous and rigorous permitting and project approval processes leads to the timely creation of jobs, which builds healthier communities and creates the revenue with which government provides much needed services, including protection of the environment."
The full B.C. Jobs Plan report can be found at: www.bcjobsplan.ca