Although much has been made of the “lost decade” of the 1990s, the world economy is in an even more delicate situation and the BC economy even more so.

Our global economic troubles have produced an environment where other jurisdictions are very competitive. Many of the jobs in Vancouver-False Creek represent the high tech economy and are very mobile. Companies can move our jobs overnight.

I am dedicated to ensuring that personal and business tax rates remain competitive so high value jobs, workers and businesses stay in B.C.

For some time now whenever we hear conversations regarding British Columbia’s economy it is prefaced by phrases such as ‘global economic uncertainty’, ‘uncertain times’ or ‘backdrop of uncertainty’. The phrases are all valid, but more importantly, provide us with a clear sense of urgency in selecting the direction we choose in managing our economy.

Both B.C. and Canada fared better than many other economies in absorbing the impacts of economic problems in the United States and around the world. B.C.’s GDP has grown at an increasing rate since 2010 and is expected to grow by 2.2% in 2013 and 2.5% in 2014.

Much has changed in the 142 years since British Columbia entered confederation when B.C. had a population of 36,000 (which included 23,000 First Nations) or 1% of Canada’s total. Now we are 4.4 million strong and represent over 13% of Canada.

Our economy developed around the fur trade and the gold rush, but the completion of the railway to the rest of Canada facilitated a massive expansion in resource industries such as forestry, mining, fishing, agriculture and manufacturing. Over time these industries have been complemented by many others to make B.C.’s economy diverse, dynamic and robust.

While resource industries remain important to B.C.’s economy, there is strong growth in new industries such as tourism, high technology and green energy.

British Columbia benefits from being at the confluence of the Asia-Pacific and North American economic markets. Companies in B.C. have a competitive advantage of low taxes, viable operating costs, stable labour markets and a multicultural work force that is experienced, educated, and skilled.

B.C. is known for its innovative culture and spirit that produces an ideal environment for expanding the already fast growing cutting-edge technology industries. It is already recognized as one of the world’s leading places to develop new technologies, undertake research, and invest and grow new markets.

B.C. has an exceptional environment for innovative industries. Within the Vancouver-False Creek riding there is a concentration of technology companies that represent this growing economy.

B.C. has over 50 research centres that are associated with our universities, technical institutions and research organizations. More than 225 companies have been launched through this University/Industry partnership.

Interestingly, small businesses, which make up a large portion of these emerging entities, account for over 95 per cent of the province’s businesses, and employ more than one million British Columbians.

There are three areas of focus BC Liberals have identified as imperative to the growth and success of both the traditional and emerging sectors of B.C.’s economy.

Controlling Taxes

B.C. must continue its fiscal policy of having some of the lowest personal and corporate taxes in Canada. B.C. currently has the lowest personal income taxes for those earning less than $120,000 and some of the lowest corporate taxes in North America. This continues to allow individuals and families more of their income to save, spend and invest. It also creates a corporate climate which is welcoming to business investment.

Responsible Spending

Ensuring a balanced budget and maintaining our AAA credit rating is predicated on controlling government spending. Sound stewardship of citizen’s tax dollars enables B.C. to focus resources on what public services families consider essential.

Workforce Capacity

Over three-quarters of job openings in the next 10 years are expected to require some form of post-secondary education, including a college or trade certificate.

We must ensure we have the labour capacity, in terms of skills, experience and availability in the areas of the economy where there is expanding demand. This will encourage new investment to our province and provide our citizens with employment in our changing and growing economy. This requires an investment in both our young people as well as those that are already established in the workforce.

Our economy has come a long way since those early years of fur trading and gold rushes. An economic regime of controlled taxes, responsible spending and a skilled workforce will ensure that it continues to grow and prosper.

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