Message from the Minister
and Accountability Statement

Photograph -- Honourable Colin Hansen.British Columbia's economy continues its strong growth — 4.0 per cent in 2006 with the unemployment rate falling to a historic low of 4.3 per cent. Confidence in B.C.'s economy is high; investment spending has taken off, rising $4 billion since 2003 to a projected $17.8 billion in 2006.

We are well positioned to move forward with innovative strategies to keep our economy strong. Over the past year, we received reports from the Competition Council, and the China/Hong Kong Market Advisory Group and the India Market Advisory Group of the Asia Pacific Trade Council. These reports offered bold, concrete steps we can take to strengthen our economic advantages.

Following advice contained in the reports, we have sought out individuals with experience in Asian markets who can represent our province and our unique strengths overseas. These representatives will focus on promoting British Columbia as a globally competitive location.

In addition, both Councils recommended that the Provincial Nominee Program be expanded to bring in more skilled workers and more investor immigrants from outside Canada. Accordingly, we have added more staff and we are working with the federal government; Citizenship and Immigration Canada has agreed to help us identify potential business immigrants to B.C. and make them aware of our Provincial Nominee Program, which contains provisions to fast-track visa applications.

The availability of skilled labour is key to economic growth. Implementation of Work BC, the provincial workforce strategy, will support wide-ranging activities directed at retaining workers, increasing the skill sets of existing workers, expanding the workforce and addressing regionally-based labour force issues.

The Province is also geared up to take advantage of the extraordinary possibilities generated by the British Columbia-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement signed in April 2006. Our two provinces have taken a leadership role in removing harmful non-tariff barriers. We're sending a clear message to investors that our region is serious about building an even more highly competitive and attractive place for people to visit, live, work and play.

With the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, we have been actively promoting to B.C. business the ways they can take advantage of the opportunities generated by the 2010 Winter Games. The 2010 Commerce Centre has well over 5,000 newsletter registrants, and over 3,200 business people have registered to receive 2010 Business Opportunities.

Following on the success of B.C.-Canada Place at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, the B.C. Olympic and Paralympic Games Secretariat has plans for an expanded presence at the 2008 Beijing Games. The Province will celebrate who we are in Beijing — by developing a pavilion to promote B.C. business, tourism, trade, investment and, of course, the 2010 Winter Games.

Last June, the Governments of Canada and British Columbia signed a new infrastructure agreement that will provide $102 million in combined funding to projects in B.C. communities in 2006-07. A minimum of 80 per cent of funding will be targeted toward communities with a population under 250,000 people. Further, the province looks forward to negotiations on a new, longer-term agreement to allow British Columbia and communities access to $2.2 billion nationally in federal funding identified in the federal budget 2006.

The Ministry of Economic Development 2007/08 – 2009/10 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 2007, 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 20, 2007

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