British Columbia is truly blessed. We have bountiful natural resources and our province enjoys a geographic position in Canada and the world that is the envy of many.
B.C. workers are skilled and dedicated. Our business people are innovative and far-thinking. B.C. students repeatedly achieve among the highest scores in international competitions.
All have found a way to compete—and to succeed—in a challenging world.
Yet, there is unmistakable evidence that British Columbia has slipped badly in a number of objective, economic rankings over the last two decades. Successive provincial governments—both NDP and B.C. Liberal—have overseen a significant decline in B.C.’s economy.
In 1971, for example, British Columbia had the highest average weekly wages in Canada. By 2001, we had fallen to third, and in recent years we’ve collapsed all the way to fifth. Today, B.C.’s average weekly wage trails Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan.
Similarly, our real gross domestic product per capita also has fallen to fifth place in the country. How is it possible that British Columbia’s economy now produces almost $2,000 less per resident, per year, than the Canadian average?
What do all of these numbers mean? They mean that British Columbia isn’t as attractive to newcomers as once it was.
We used to be a population magnet. For much of the 20th century, British Columbia continually drew new residents from across Canada.
Workers who wanted to find high-wage jobs, men and women who wanted to raise their families here, and Canadians who simply wanted to realize their dreams—all of them were drawn to B.C.
Unfortunately, interprovincial migration statistics turned negative at the end of the 1990s, and then after briefly becoming positive, fell back into negative territory again over the last 18 months.
It seems unbelievable, but more people now are leaving B.C. each month to find jobs in other provinces, than are coming here from elsewhere in Canada.
So, what can be done? The B.C. Conservatives believe in B.C. We believe in our people—and want to ensure they have the education and skills training to find high-wage jobs.
We believe in fair taxation. An example of unfair taxation is the carbon tax, which hurts B.C. farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers.
The carbon tax also discriminates against British Columbians living in the rural and northern parts of our province, who do not have the public-transit choices available to those living in of our major urban centres.
We believe in balanced budgets and want MLAs to understand that public expenditures must be kept in-line with revenues. To that end the B.C. Conservatives have developed a three–point plan—called Spending Smarter—that will ensure greater legislative oversight over government spending.
We believe in transportation. Good highways are essential to B.C.’s economic growth. We need to create better access to our natural resources, especially in rural and northern parts of the province.
The bottom line is this: the B.C. Conservatives believe in British Columbia. We believe in our people, their willingness to be daring and innovative, our natural resources, and our geographic advantages. We believe in our potential; we believe in the future.
British Columbia is incredibly rich in people and resources. We have the geographic location. All we need to do, to secure a better future, is to believe in ourselves. We believe in B.C.