MLA concerned about B.C's economy

Economic worries in B.C.

The B.C. economy, once a top performer among Canadian provinces, has plummeted to second last in the past three years.

From 2010 to 2018, B.C. boasted one of the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or economic output, but now we face a bleak economic future with flat growth at the bottom of Canadian provinces.

Recently, Amazon representatives came to do a presentation in Victoria on what they see in the future. At the forefront of consumer spending, they certainly feel the headwinds early.

While they noted the cost of living, cost of housing and public safety as some of their concerns, they ended on an ominous note about the economy. They believe we will be at flat to declining growth by the end of the summer in B.C.

This is deeply concerning as we see the signs of economic slowdown across British Columbia. Recent statistics and forecasts paint a troubling picture, highlighting the pressing need to address the root causes of this downturn. The industries that once fuelled our growth, like forestry, construction, and small businesses, are now grappling with significant challenges, and it is clear government policies, excessive taxation and lack of strategic planning have played a significant role in this decline.

The forestry sector, once a cornerstone of our economy, has been hit hard. The recent shutdown of Canfor’s operations in the central Interior, attributed to NDP government policies, underscores the challenges.

Canfor CEO Don Kayne cited a shortage of timber and fibre, exacerbated by increased regulatory complexity, leading to job losses and mill closures. These structural issues, amplified by poor government policy, have devastated rural communities dependent on forestry.

The construction sector is also bracing for a slowdown as projects like pipeline expansions and Site C wind down. Those projects provided thousands of jobs and stimulated local economies. With no comparable initiatives in sight, we face significant job losses and reduced economic activity. The lack of foresight and planning by the government has left many workers and businesses in uncertainty.

Small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are facing unprecedented challenges. Insolvency numbers are rising, with many businesses struggling to survive. High taxation, increased operating costs, and lack of support have created a hostile environment for small businesses. The government’s short-sighted approach to taxation has further strained these businesses, prioritizing immediate revenue over long-term economic health.

A report by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade highlights that businesses in B.C. have faced more than $6.5 billion in extra costs since 2021. Those costs include the Employer Health Tax, paid sick days, additional statutory holidays and carbon tax. Coupled with decreased consumer spending, those costs have severely impacted many businesses’ ability to survive.

Broader economic indicators are equally concerning. Unemployment rates, while still relatively low, are creeping upward, reflecting the struggles of key industries and small businesses. The jobs numbers conceal the bleakness of the future. The province is losing private sector jobs that contribute to economic growth while adding public sector jobs.

The policies of the government have not only failed to address these issues but have exacerbated them. We need a shift back to a government that understands how to build and expand an economy, with a balanced and forward-thinking approach to economic policy.

The economic slowdown in B.C. is a direct result of government policies. It’s time for a change in that approach—one that prioritizes the long-term health of our economy and the prosperity of our communities. By addressing these issues head-on, we can pave the way for a robust and resilient economic future for all British Columbians.

My question to you this week is this: Are you concerned about B.C.’s economy?

I love hearing from you and read every email you write. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and Opposition caucus whip and critic for Environment and Climate Change, Technology and Innovation and Citizens’ Services. She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee on Education as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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