Signs of spring coincide with a blossoming economy

It’s back! The signs are all there. It hit home for me this past week while I was making an announcement at one of Western Canada’s largest technical institutes.

This post-secondary training college graduates about 25 per cent of all of the completed apprentices going into a wide range of professions and occupations right across the country.

What they were telling me was good news, but not without its challenges.

The administration and faculty reps said it was starting to look like déjà-vu all over again.

The demand for all types of trades is unmistakeably surging upwards again.

They said it reminded them of the pressure they felt at the time of major employee shortages a few years ago.

It wasn’t that long ago. You remember. Demands for qualified help or for those willing to be trained was so high that many fast food outlets couldn’t keep open their usual hours because they simply couldn’t find the people.

I’m not saying we’re there yet. There are still many people looking for work.

But the strength of the economy is evident everywhere. All I have to do is reflect on some of the events I was involved in this week.

Just last week, I attended the opening of a huge new production facility in Okanagan Falls.

Structurlam makes value-added wood products which are used here and around the world.

If you’re wondering what kind of projects they do, think Richmond Olympic skating oval, that breathtaking magnificent roof superstructure. They did that.

Sometimes we aren’t aware of the amazing workers and technicians that we have right here in our own backyard. (Structurlam also has a plant in Penticton.)

I was there this week to announce that they were the successful recipients of research dollars in the ongoing development of the next generation of laminated wood beams.

Some of you find that exciting. Others of you are about to nod off thinking about it. Well hold on.

Before I lose you, think about earthquake proof high-rise buildings.

That’s right—an apartment or office tower up to 25 storeys high that is held up by resilient, shock absorbing laminated beams and girders.

The demand for the people and the product is strong. And we have what it takes right here to supply that demand.

Another sign of our growing economy was evident at the annual Hong Kong Business Dinner in Vancouver this week.

As minister for the Asia Pacific it was an honour to bring remarks to the sold-out event.

The mood in the room was clearly optimistic. And it was optimism based on hard facts, not simply hope.

Almost everybody there had growth figures to match the sense of good things ahead.

Our ports at Vancouver and Prince Rupert are both boasting significant increases of containers passing through their loading and shipping areas.

Airline companies from Asia were there, talking about expanding their operations into Canada.

That means jobs and investments here, along with greater choice (and hopefully lower prices) for travellers.

Agriculture and energy producers were there, talking about what appears to be long term growth and demand numbers.

After all, as the middle class continues to grow at an amazing rate and people move annually out of poverty by the tens of millions per year in China, India and other previously impoverished nations, the demand from them for every type of product imaginable will only increase.

We are very well placed to meet those demands and see our own levels of standard of living and prosperity rise in the process.

Westbank First Nation also continues to see economic growth.

Last week, I was with Chief Robert Louie for the announcement of a construction project that will upgrade a number of homes on WFN lands.

That means there will be a need for trades and building supply products.

More jobs, more sales, more economic growth.

An international meeting of private and public sector transportation companies with top people from around the world also took place in Vancouver to look at the growth needs in transportation arising from our growing economy.

As I said, the signs of job creation and investment are everywhere.

We will continue to work on the types of policy that will keep this momentum going.


On another note, we can be proud of what Canada is able to offer the world on two different counts this week.

This week I had the honour of meeting with some of our fine members of our Armed Forces.

Canada has been asked to provide soldiers, sailors, and fighter pilots to assist with other United Nations countries in subduing the Libyan dictator in his ongoing assault on his own people.

Once again, as we have done throughout history, our Armed Forces will step up to protect those who are being slaughtered by the forces of dictators.

As usual, I expect we will hear good reports from others in foreign countries who will have the honour of serving with our Armed Forces.

Stockwell Day is the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla and president of the federal Treasury Board.


Kelowna Capital News