Clark: 2015 could be a decisive year

B.C.'s growing visibility and unbeatable quality of life will bring newcomers to our doorstep.

Through six international trade missions to date, we’ve built relationships in growing economies—crucial in an increasingly crowded global marketplace.

We’ve focused on building and expanding key industries through the BC Jobs Plan—making changes that support businesses here in the Okanagan.

We continue to advocate for free trade within Canada, so customers in neighbouring provinces can buy B.C. wine without unnecessary barriers. Our updates to liquor laws are making it easier for domestic consumers to enjoy our great wines and craft beers, too.

A recent Accelerate Okanagan report shows our tech industry contributed over $1 billion to the local economy in 2013, with 558 technology businesses employing over 6,500 workers. And with the Okanagan Centre for Innovation under construction, the next generation of tech entrepreneurs will have a place to learn, collaborate, and grow new enterprises of their own.

Our growing visibility and unbeatable quality of life will bring newcomers to our doorstep.

More international students will come to study at UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College, taking advantage of a world-class education and supporting our post-secondary education system.

Many of them will choose to start the next chapter of their lives here—contributing their talents, ideas, and labour. It’s the formula that made Canada the envy of the world, and B.C. the envy of Canada.

While B.C. is blessed with natural abundance, our prosperity isn’t accidental. The quality of life we enjoy was built with a lot of hard work—and responsible decisions about what to do with that prosperity.

Which brings me to my job—leading a team that’s always looking for ways to make it easier to do business, make a living, and raise a family in British Columbia.

It starts with balanced budgets, careful control of public spending, and respect for taxpayers.

We’ve reached affordable agreements with more than two-thirds of B.C.’s public workers, including a negotiated six-year deal with teachers—giving us an opportunity to put 30 years of labour strife behind us to focus on what’s really important: student success.

Through our Core Review, we’ve found innovative ways to control spending. But with a growing and ageing population, demands on public services will continue to increase.

That’s why we’re working relentlessly to grow the economy, creating new jobs and new revenues—to put B.C. in the best possible position for success.

There are things we can’t control, like the price of oil. That’s why it’s so important that we have done everything we can to make B.C. competitive through our tax rates, permitting, and the highest environmental and safety standards.

So while our LNG industry may not follow the exact script we originally laid out—we’re still going to get there, because we are adaptable and we have a plan.

We need to make sure a new generation of British Columbians is trained, ready and first in line for those jobs, with major investments in skills training programs across the province.

Previous generations worked tirelessly to give us the province we know today. It falls to us to build on that legacy.

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