British Columbia presents recovery plan for northern communities – Smithers Interior News


British Columbia Minister of Jobs, Recovery and Innovation, Ravi Kahlon, was in Prince George on Wednesday March 16 to discuss the StrongerBC economic plan and northern communities.

Kahlon said British Columbia leads the country in economic recovery with a 103% recovery rate and 3% more people currently working than before the pandemic.

The province is basing its strategy in part on last month’s labor market report which highlighted more than one million new job opportunities in British Columbia over the next 10 years.

Kahlon said the government is investing to ensure that growth in the economy occurs in all regions of this province. Better internet connectivity in northern communities is a priority, he said, highlighting investments to “bridge the digital divide” by 2027.

He said the province sees more opportunities for growth with expanding connectivity with families moving to smaller communities for a better lifestyle and starting their own businesses.

Overall in British Columbia, Kahlon said a declining population from 2030 means about 600,000 people entering the labor market and increased net migration of people from other provinces to British Columbia. .

He stressed the importance of investing in labor market participation, including investments in childcare to give parents more opportunities to join the labor market.

He said the government had heard forestry workers’ concerns about pauses in logging operations (known as postponements) and employment hardship “loud and clear”.

“We know British Columbians want a sustainable forest industry for years to come. The way we have exploited our forests in the past has not been sustainable,” Kahlon said.

He said the number of future deferrals will depend on consultation with First Nations and that communities affected by these deferrals will be supported. He said the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Employment and the Ministry of Labor “are currently working together on this package”.

“The biggest issue I’m hearing from employers right now is that they can’t find enough workers – and that’s across the province – it’s not isolated to one sector,” said Kahlon said.

He said the government must ensure that people have the skills training for the jobs available and that communities looking to diversify their economies are supported.

“We also know that we need to bring these opportunities closer to communities. It doesn’t work as well when people have to travel long distances to get those training opportunities.

Kahlon said plans for growth in northern British Columbia go beyond completion of the LNG pipeline, Site-C dam and CoastalGasLink pipeline.

Part of the plan he says will help northern interior communities is $10 million in the provincial budget to ease the licensing process for mining interests to bring more mines online.

“We think mining is going to see a big increase in British Columbia, not only because we have the resources the world needs, but also because if we’re going to have the ambitious climate change goals that we want to achieve, it will take the resources,” Kahlon said.

“We also see huge opportunities with hydrogen.”

Kahlon said the province is tackling inflation by addressing supply chain issues. He said the movement of goods was “significantly hampered” by the pandemic – as gas prices rose with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We had over $10 million in grants that we gave to local manufacturers to buy equipment so they could pivot and be able to shorten our supply chains and be able to produce more products here in British Columbia,” Kahlon said.

“So manufacturing closer to home, finding ways to produce food in ways that we haven’t done in the past to address some of our food challenges, and aggressively shifting our economy toward electrification or shifting to hydrogen, so we can get more people off fossil fuels (and) become more resilient to future impacts we might see in the economy.

Kahlon said public sector jobs in areas such as health care and early childhood education are also important to keeping the economy strong as it emerges from the pandemic.

“We have learned through the pandemic that a healthy society and a healthy economy go hand in hand.”

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