B.C. jobs plan bumps into reality

Premier Christy Clark's " to B.C. Jobs Plan" took some hits as she was finishing her week-long publicity tour to roll it out. But the serious damage wasn’t from her political opponents on the left and right.

Premier Christy Clark speaks in Kamloops during her week-long tour to promote her government's jobs plan.

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark’s “B.C. Jobs Plan” took some hits as she was finishing her week-long publicity tour to roll it out.

The serious damage wasn’t from her political opponents on the left and right. The body blows came from Europe, the United States and China, where the storm clouds of a second recession continued to gather. As world leaders offered up a chorus of warning about debt and falling consumer demand, commodity markets for metals, coal and petroleum tumbled along with stocks.

One of the few firm targets Clark offered was that eight new mines should be up and running in B.C. by 2015, with expansions or upgrades to nine more existing mines. That is the total arrived at after detailed meetings with the industry. But if China’s factories slow down because fewer Americans and Europeans buy their goods, those projects can fade as quickly as the price of copper.

Total provincial spending for the B.C. jobs plan comes out around $300 million. The big-ticket items were contributions to port and rail facilities at Prince Rupert and Tsawwassen. Another $24 million goes to staff up natural resource permit offices, which are backlogged after amalgamation of various ministry functions.

NDP leader Adrian Dix leapt on that announcement, saying it proves that the B.C. Liberals starved the regional offices.

He’s right on that. For example, the resource ministry’s regional director for Skeena told the Bulkley-Nechako regional district board this spring that he has 30 per cent less staff than five years ago. Some of that is a result of ending duplication of forest, energy and other ministries, but by this spring there were 65 independent power projects waiting for approval in Skeena alone.

Of course the NDP would fix that backlog by killing off the projects, and presumably break up the natural resources ministry again, to ramp up their beloved government jobs.

The NDP also jumped on B.C. Liberal MLA John Les for going to high-unemployment Nanaimo and suggesting people should look north where jobs are going begging.

Construction company Ledcor had job fairs in Prince George and Chetwynd in early September, looking for hundreds of truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, drillers, blasters, mechanics, surveyors and labourers for the Willow Creek coal mine in Tumbler Ridge. Another job fair was held in Fort St. James around the same time, looking for equipment operators for the Mount Milligan copper-gold mine.

I had a chat a couple of weeks ago with a grader operator in Dawson Creek, working in the gas patch. Most of the pickups he sees on job sites have Alberta licence plates.

So let’s say you’re an able-bodied unemployed guy sitting in Nanaimo, waiting for a job to come to you. If that’s how you think the economy works, it’s no surprise if your preferred political message is Dix’s 1960s socialist blather about the government forcibly sharing the wealth. And it’s no surprise that you’re unemployed.

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins trashed the Prince Rupert port announcement as a payoff to local aboriginal people for a potash facility.

“The usual Liberal policy of giving natives a veto on new projects has got to end,” Cummins said, demonstrating once again that he understands nothing about the evolution of this issue in the past 20 years.

In summary, Clark’s jobs plan is to continue Gordon Campbell’s Pacific gateway strategy. The opposition parties are reheating decades-old failed options they hope will smell better than a stale three-term government.

And B.C. is, as always, at the mercy of world events.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows senior’s car vandalized for more than 18 months

Retired RCMP officer determined to catch ‘tagger’

UPDATE: Longboarder, 14, and car collide near Maple Ridge tent city

Teen taken to hospital by ambulance, injuries not life threatening

Canada Day a big show in Maple Ridge memorial park

Starts at noon, entertainment all day, July 1

VIDEO: Clip of driver speeding past B.C. school bus alarms MLA

Laurie Throness of Chilliwack-Kent says he will lobby for better safety measures

Former Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Man charged in crash that killed B.C. pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged for 2018 Highway 1 accident where Kelowna elementary school teacher died

Province unveils 10-year plan to boost mental health, addiction recovery services

The plan, called A Pathway to Hope, focuses on early-intervention services that are seeing high demand

Man arrested for alleged indecent act after ‘predatory’ SkyTrain incident

A woman had reported the man had exposed himself while on the train on April 29

Two helicopters reportedly seized by RCMP near U.S. border south of Cultus Lake

Federal Mounties mum on raid two weeks after dramatic raid reported by Columbia Valley residents

Most Read