B.C. Premier Christy Clark painted a glowing vision for B.C.’s economy and said the province is poised to become Canada’s next Alberta.
Clark spoke in Nanaimo Wednesday at the 2015 Vancouver Island Economic Alliance State of the Island summit on the region’s economy to an audience of more than 300.
Clark said Ontario is burdened by operating debt and Alberta’s economy is suffering from low world oil prices, but B.C. is diversifying, developing new economic sectors and opening diverse world markets and is poised to lead the Canada’s economic growth in 2016 following three consecutive balanced budgets, a $1.5-billion surplus for 2015 and elimination of operating debt by 2020.
The province will spend $11.5 billion on infrastructure per year for the next three years without going into deficit, Clark said. The money is a result of sticking to a plan to expand forestry, agriculture, technology, tourism and film and a developed liquified natural gas industry will create $1 trillion in economic activity and 100,000 jobs over the next 30 years.
“We will become for Canada what Alberta used to be,” Clark said. “We will be making our contribution to confederation in a way we never have before because our economy will be growing the fastest and we will also be doing it is some of the cleanest product produces anywhere in the world.”
Clark said government’s role is to ensure the infrastructure is in place and to work with private enterprise, labour, small business, transcend political partisanship and work with the federal government to grow the economy and help provide jobs.
She said the government needs to focus on developing a workforce trained to work in B.C.’s developing industries and is investing $3 billion to develop “human infrastructure” that includes $100,000 to Vancouver Island University to create business plans for a new automotive and marine repair facility and a new health and science centre. The money is in addition to a $1-million investment in information technology upgrades at VIU.
Two business plans will create an automotive, motorcycle and marine repair facility as part of a new trades centre and for a new health and science centre that trains and educates professionals in nursing, healthcare and biology programs.
The $1 million for information technology upgrades will modernize VIU’s information technology infrastructure, upgrade firewalls at remote campuses and increase bandwidth at the Nanaimo campus.
Technology provides $200 million annually and 2,700 jobs in Nanaimo.