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Posts Tagged "opportunities"

19Feb

Budget 2019 creates opportunities, makes life better for people

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Making Life Better

British Columbia is an economic leader in Canada. Private-sector forecasters expect B.C. to have the highest rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Canada in 2019 and 2020, and B.C. has had the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for over 17 months.

B.C.’s economic success should benefit the people who make the economy work, which is why the B.C. government is choosing to invest in people, while balancing the budget. By ensuring that everyone has a chance to succeed, government is supporting a strong, sustainable economy for today and into the future.

Strong, Stable Economic Growth

The Budget 2019 forecast for B.C. real GDP growth has increased from 1.8% to 2.4% in 2019 and from 2.0% to 2.3% in 2020, compared to the First Quarterly Report 2018, with growth rates of 2.1% expected in 2021 and 2.0% in both 2022 and 2023. These changes partly reflect recent developments regarding the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement and the final investment decision on the LNG Canada project, the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history.

This, along with other factors, resulted in the Economic Forecast Council (EFC) substantially upgrading its projections for B.C.’s economic performance in both 2019 and 2020. An average of six private-sector forecasters (a subset of the EFC) expect B.C.’s economic growth to rank at the top of provincial standings.

The main upside risks to the economic outlook include less domestic monetary policy tightening, a weaker Canadian dollar and a more resilient U.S. economy. The main downside risks include uncertainty regarding global trade policy, fiscal sustainability at ICBC and BC Hydro, weakening global economic activity, lower commodity prices, as well as ongoing economic challenges in Asia and the euro zone. To manage these risks, the Budget 2019 economic forecast is prudent compared to the Economic Forecast Council’s outlook.

Budget Outlook

Budget 2019 projects surpluses of:

  • $274 million in 2019-20
  • $287 million in 2020-21
  • $585 million in 2021-22

The B.C. government has included several layers of prudence in the fiscal plan to help account for lower than expected revenues, unforeseen expenses or emergencies. Budget 2019 includes a forecast allowance of $500 million in 2019-20, $300 million in 2020-21, and $300 million in 2021-22. Budget 2019 also includes contingencies of $750 million in 2019-20, $400 million in 2020-21 and $400 million in 2021-22.

Revenue Outlook

Total government revenue is forecast at $59 billion in 2019-20, $60 billion in 2020-21 and $62.5 billion in 2021-22. This growth is driven by strengthening economic activity; there are no new revenue-raising tax measures in Budget 2019.

Expense Outlook

Total expenses over the three-year fiscal plan are forecast at $58.3 billion in 2019-20, $59.5 billion in 2020-21 and $61.6 billion in 2021-22.

Capital Spending

Taxpayer-supported capital spending over the fiscal plan is a record-level $20.1 billion and includes investments needed to support a strong, stable economy, such as:

  • Health: $4.4 billion to support new major construction projects and upgrading of health facilities, such as the redevelopment of the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, a new patient-care tower at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and a new St. Paul’s Hospital at the Station Street site in Vancouver.
  • Transportation: $6.6 billion for priority projects, such as the Pattullo Bridge replacement, the Broadway subway, four-laning on Highway 1 through Kicking Horse Canyon and the replacement of Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous.
  • Education: $2.7 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities, such as a new Northeast Elementary school in Fort St. John, a new school in Kelowna and expansion schools for Sullivan Heights Secondary in Surrey and Royal Bay Secondary in the Sooke school district. 
  • Post-secondary education: $3.3 billion to build capacity and help meet the province’s future workforce needs in key sectors, including a new sustainable energy engineering building at Simon Fraser University in Surrey, a new health sciences centre at Camosun College in Victoria and a renewed and expanded trades training facility at Selkirk College in Nelson.

Debt Affordability

As a result of prudent fiscal management, the B.C. government successfully eliminated British Columbia’s operating debt in the second quarter of 2018-19 and is now free of operating debt for the first time in over 40 years. This means B.C. is in one of the strongest fiscal positions in the country.

B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt is projected to be $44 billion at the end of 2018-19 – $1.2 billion lower than projected at Budget 2018. This means the B.C. government’s borrowing costs will be lower, saving money that can be invested into making life better for the people of B.C.

The taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio, a key metric used by credit rating agencies, is expected to remain near 16% over the fiscal plan period, while funding record levels of capital spending.

Supplementary Estimates

With the elimination of the operating debt, the B.C. government is tabling supplementary estimates. For the first time in more than a decade, the B.C. government is using supplementary estimates to reinvest part of the government’s surplus into the services people need.

Highlights include $100 million for northern communities to improve infrastructure to prepare for community growth ahead of LNG development, $89 million for health research grants and $50 million for Connecting British Columbia to improve internet connectivity for Indigenous and rural communities.


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1Feb

New labour market data to increase opportunities for people

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The Province and the Surrey Board of Trade are helping Surrey employers meet the city’s growing demand for skilled workers through a new labour market study that will increase employment opportunities for people and support Surrey’s vibrant local economy.

“As one of B.C.’s fastest growing cities, Surrey is planning now for tomorrow’s labour market needs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Funding through WorkBC’s Community Employer Partnerships program will provide new labour market data that will have lasting impacts for Surrey employers, local businesses and skilled workers who are the foundation of a strong, sustainable local economy.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $198,965 to the Surrey Board of Trade to conduct a comprehensive labour market study to determine Surrey’s current and anticipated labour market needs and identify skills shortages.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is honoured and pleased to have received close to $200,000 in funding from the B.C. government to deliver on a Surrey workforce strategy report — a current gap in Surrey’s marketplace,” said Anita Huberman, chief executive officer, Surrey Board of Trade. “This is proactive planning for the future of our Surrey businesses and for the skills and talent that they need to thrive in the economy.”

The study concludes on Sept. 27, 2019, and a summary report of key research findings will be made available to the public in October 2019.

Funding for this and other projects is provided through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job-creation projects.

Quotes:

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology —

“B.C.’s economy is strong and people are benefiting from new jobs and investments in rapidly expanding communities like Surrey. This study will help governments and the business community understand the current and future needs of Surrey’s job market so they can support the labour force and drive economic growth into the future.”

Jagrup Brar, MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood —

“There’s no question that people looking to develop, launch and build successful businesses in Surrey will benefit from the findings of this new labour market study. Local people looking to plan their careers and train for in-demand jobs will benefit from this information too. Surrey is known for its innovation in business and community building. I look forward to seeing the study’s positive impact on Surrey’s labour market.”

Quick Facts:

  • More than $15 million will be allocated in 39 CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2018-19.
  • Since the program began in 2012, 365 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Surrey is the ninth largest city in Canada and the second largest in Metro Vancouver.
  • Between 2011 and 2016, Surrey’s workforce grew by 30,720.

Learn More:

Learn about how community employer partnerships are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about labour market partnerships: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Labour-Market-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about the Surrey Board of Trade: https://businessinsurrey.com/


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15Oct

‘Silver Economy’ offers business opportunities, SFU aging expert says

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SFU gerontology professor Andrew Sixsmith is scientific director of AGE-WELL.


PROVINCE

Scientists using digital games to help seniors stay socially connected were happy to see immediate results when they organized a Wii bowling tournament at 14 senior centres across Canada.

Not only were the participants connecting with each other for the weekly virtual games broadcast but “massive numbers of people would come out every week to cheer them on,” said SFU gerontology Prof. David Kaufman.

“It helps bring people together,” he said.

Using technology to help improve the lives of Canada’s aging population is the theme of the AGE-WELL2018 conference in Vancouver on Tuesday through Thursday.

AGE-WELL is a national network of centres of excellence researching how technology can increase the physical, cognitive and emotional well-being of seniors.

“There are two priorities: Great science and real-world impact,” said SFU gerontology Prof. Andrew Sixsmith, scientific director of AGE-WELL. “We want to create things that will have social benefits.”

Some of the products and services being showcased at the three-day conference include self-driving wheelchairs and a Geek Squad-style IT network to help seniors develop computer skills so they can access services and information online.

Canada’s aging baby boomers are generally more tech-savvy and have more money than their parents did, which is setting the stage for business opportunities in the “silver economy,” said Sixsmith.

“There are lots of opportunities for Canadian businesses to tap into that market,” especially in the areas of health and wellness and financial management and services.

But he said there is a “digital divide” among seniors between those with online accessibility and those without, especially those in rural areas or with low incomes.

“The federal government should be doing more to ensure equal access,” he said.

Kaufman’s research around digital games for seniors shows that compared to the individualistic shooting games popular with younger people, seniors prefer slow-paced action based on board games they are familiar with that is also tied to gaining knowledge.

For instance, a digital tic-tac-toe game requires players to answer a question based on a theme such as nutrition or making a will before they can put down an X, he said.

He said that helps provide cognitive benefits for the seniors.

Digital storytelling has also proved popular.

Workshops are held in seniors homes to train seniors how to put together their life stories on video using photos, audio and text, and then invite their families and friends to a showing.

“They’re leaving a legacy that’s more than just money or a house,” said Kaufman.

[email protected]


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