British Columbia is unique in the world. Our province is filled with unmatched natural beauty and resources, people brimming with talent and ingenuity and an economy that is thriving.
The Economic Forecast Council predicts that B.C.’s strong economy will outperform Canada’s economy over the next three years. But a truly prosperous economy needs to work for everyone, not just the few. It needs to create prosperity now, while meeting the challenges of the future.
Our government is taking a different approach and tackling the biggest challenges facing B.C. We know it’s possible to build a robust, sustainable economy that works for now, for the future and for people. We also know we need to protect this beautiful province for the people, communities and industries that depend on B.C.’s abundant natural resources.
In December, we introduced the CleanBC climate action plan, in collaboration with Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party caucus, to put B.C. on the path to a cleaner, better future. The plan will help our province rise to the challenge of climate change, while investing in a strong, sustainable, low-carbon economy that reduces climate pollution.
CleanBC will help B.C. seize new, clean-economy opportunities and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. First Nations governments, local governments and businesses are all partners on the path forward. By moving to clean, renewable energy – like our abundant supply of B.C. electricity – we will power our growing economy.
Further electrification, fuel switching, reducing emissions from forestry, land use and agriculture, and better urban design and transportation systems will help drive major emissions reduction. We know B.C. business leaders want to reach our targets too – we recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Business Council of British Columbia to work together to build a low-carbon economy.
Our government has facilitated the largest private-sector investment in Canadian history – a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project worth $40 billion, of which $24 billion will be spent in B.C. That includes 10,000 construction jobs and 950 permanent jobs for B.C.
We set four stringent conditions for giving this project a green light. Any new LNG project must provide a fair rate of return for our natural resources; there must be job opportunities and training for people in B.C.; a meaningful partnership must be created with First Nations; and, critically, it must fit within our climate action targets. It’s an example of how taking a different approach, while putting people and our province first, can reap rewards.
We’re working collaboratively to make our region a global hub of innovation and connectivity. The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. More than 10,200 tech-related businesses throughout the province support over 106,000 good-paying jobs. The potential for growth in tech and innovation is huge, and we want to make sure B.C. is a part of it.
To keep people and goods moving, we’re also making infrastructure investments that will create jobs for British Columbians. We’re working with trade partners to expand global markets and attract investment. And we’re tackling the housing affordability crisis while investing in people and the services they need.
We need the people who work here to be able to afford to live here too. That’s why our government is making the largest investment in housing in B.C. history – more than $7 billion over 10 years. We’re working to increase supply, curb demand and tackle fraud in B.C.’s real estate market.
To make sure people have the skills they need to succeed, and that our labour force meets the demands of the market, we’re investing in education and skills training across the board. We’re also improving health care and other services that will make B.C. a better place to live and work. That includes a $1 billion investment to make child care more affordable and available for more families.
B.C. is a remarkable place, with incredible people and unlimited potential. We’re investing in people, tackling challenges in front of us and putting B.C. on a more sustainable path.
We’re going to keep working hard, listening to people and delivering the investments B.C. needs to build a resilient economy and a brighter future. •
John Horgan is premier of British Columbia.