Message from the Minister and
Last year, the B.C. economy grew by 3.8 per cent, the strongest growth of all Canadian provinces. We’ve seen more than 270,000 new jobs over the past four years, with the unemployment rate falling to a historic low of 5.1 per cent in December 2005.
As we look to build on the progress we have made, more and more we are looking to the opportunities opening up across the Pacific and the opportunity to leverage the Olympic brand. With an unmatched geographic position as a natural trade gateway and a higher proportion of people with Asian heritage than anywhere else on the continent, B.C. has a unique opportunity to connect with Asian markets.
Our strategies going forward include working to revitalize the economy and help to create a more competitive business climate in B.C. We will work to attract new foreign direct investment and enhance trade for B.C. companies. The Asia-Pacific Trade Council and the BC Competition Council were established this year to assist with our goals and to guide the province as we seek to maximize commerce in key markets of Asia, NAFTA and the European Union.
We are investing in our regions by establishing regional economic development trusts that will provide $300 million to give communities, including First Nations, the funding, the control, and the ability to identify and pursue new opportunities for economic growth and job creation.
With the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, opportunities to increase our international profile and create new business opportunities are right at our doorstep. Through initiatives such as the 2010 Commerce Centre, B.C. companies can receive the latest information on every new business opportunity as it arises, be it in B.C., Beijing, or London. B.C. companies — both large and small — are already winning contracts. In addition, the 2010 Commerce Centre will provide new skills to B.C.’s small- and medium-sized enterprises and an international network, as they prepare to take advantage of the opportunities generated by the 2010 Winter Games.
It is estimated that over the next 12 years there are more than one million job openings that will be created here in B.C.; many as a direct result of Olympic opportunities. The challenge is filling those jobs with the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.
The Ministry of Economic Development 2006/07–2008/09 Service Plan was prepared under my direction in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. I am accountable for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of February 8, 2006, have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.
Honourable Colin Hansen
Minister of Economic Development
February 21, 2006