The B.C. Jobs Plan misses the North Island completely, according to North Island MLA Claire Trevena.
Premier Christy Clark unveiled the plan last week, and although Trevena said the idea to create the plan was good, the plan itself was a let down for this area of the province.
“Canada may start in B.C., but the first land mass you get to is Vancouver Island and the Liberal Job Plan seems to ignore Vancouver Island, which is very troubling if this is their approach for economic development, that a large section of the province with a very high population base is ignored,” said Trevena.
The plan says that with a population of 727,422, the Vancouver Island/Coast region can expect 152,600 job openings in the next 10 years. However, Trevena said these numbers are hard to quantify.
“Having targets is very important but you’ve got to make sure that you have the jobs,” explained Trevena. “Are we going to see jobs created in Campbell River where we need jobs?”
The plan outlines the expansion of the mining industry, boosting B.C.’s exports, and losing ‘red tape’ making it easier for businesses to invest here, among other things. But, Trevena pointed out that the plan focuses on expanding raw resources exports, like logs, too much.
“There is no value added in this jobs plan and that is what is very damaging for the North Island,” she said. “Having value added is what makes a community.”
The North Island has only one specialty mill; no large sawmill or pulp mill. Trevena also said the plan misses new possibilities for job creation in this area, like investing in tidal power, or new ways to expand the aquaculture industry. The B.C. Jobs Plan website states that by 2020 there will be over one million job openings, and 75 per cent of those jobs will require post-secondary education and training. Although Trevena said that it’s positive that Clark wants to increase the number of international students by 50 per cent over four years, there is no mention of making education more affordable for people on the North Island or the rest of the province.
“The cost of education, it’s been spiraling out of control really,” said Trevena. “It’s all very well to attract students from abroad but this isn’t the way that you actually grow your skilled workforce for your communities.
“We’ve got to make sure that there are B.C. people who can fill B.C. jobs.”
The plan also sets out investments in a redevelopment project in Prince Rupert and a road and rail infrastructure project in Deltaport, but Trevena pointed out that there was no investment on Vancouver Island.
“What we ended up with is very broad brush strokes really missing the mark, not looking at the specifics of what can work for communities,” said Trevena. “We will start Canada at Vancouver and forget the Island is what we’ve seen.”