Two months ago, Premier John Horgan and I released the StrongerBC Economic Plan. The plan builds on B.C.’s recovery by setting out clear long-term goals and economic missions aimed at growing a clean and inclusive economy that works for everyone.
Since then, we have moved quickly to deliver on the plan’s vision.
We’re connecting every British Columbian to high-speed internet, no matter where they live. We’re expanding child care to help parents balance the needs of home and work. We’re making record investments in crucial economic infrastructure and housing, and providing support for growing new sectors such as life sciences and agritech. And we’re making sure British Columbians have the skills and talents they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.
The actions we’re taking to grow B.C.’s economy draw on a key insight of modern economic policy; namely, that people are our biggest economic asset. When we invest in people, we are laying the foundation for long-term economic security and innovation.
It’s a theme I heard again and again on a trade mission I took this week to San Francisco and Portland. Investors, entrepreneurs and innovators across a wide range of industries, from clean tech and life sciences to mass timber and the emerging metaverse, told me the most important thing they need to grow is a talented workforce. The same message comes through loud and clear in my discussions with B.C. business leaders.
Take Rivian Automotive, a California-based electric vehicle automaker, that I met with at their software engineering office in Vancouver. For Rivian, the level of talent coming out of B.C.’s post-secondary institutions is a key factor in their plans to grow their business in B.C. The same is true throughout our economy. And with labour market forecasts showing that more than 80% of new job openings over the next 10 years will require post-secondary education, it’s clearer than ever that developing talent is an urgent economic priority.
To meet this demand, the StrongerBC Economic Plan makes a generational commitment to expand access to post-secondary education and skills training throughout the province. We’re creating thousands of new tech seats, building new student housing, and expanding loan and grant programs. We’re also investing in new infrastructure to train tomorrow’s workforce, like the new world-class Trades and Technology Complex on the BCIT campus.
B.C.’s highly skilled workforce is not only driving innovation and growth in new industries such as electric vehicles, it’s also adding enormous value to B.C.’s traditional industries.
In Portland, I spoke to an international gathering of mass timber developers and investors about our government’s support for this fast-growing, value-added industry. Already, B.C. is a global leader producing and using mass timber with more mass timber buildings per capita than anywhere else in North America. And our newly released Mass Timber Action Plan will accelerate this growth with new investments in skills training, as well as research and support for projects that demonstrate mass timber’s potential to revolutionize construction in B.C. and in markets around the world.
Support for mass timber and innovative new technologies throughout our economy increases B.C.’s productive capacity, generating the kind of low-carbon, high-quality goods and services that are in demand in Canada and around the world. In the race to lead in this fast-changing global economy, this capacity is the source of our economic strength and our quality of life.
As a former Olympic athlete, I understand well the importance of getting the fundamentals right. The same is true for our economy. By investing in our strengths, from our highly skilled workforce to our strong public services, the StrongerBC Economic Plan expands our capacity to innovate and gives us the tools we need to compete, win and lead in the global economy.