• BC Chamber Public Affairs Update: 10/07/2014

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    October 07, 2014
    BC Chamber Public Affairs Update:
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      October 7, 2014
    In This Issue

    The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce - the Voice of Business in B.C.
    Premier Clark criticizes Temporary Foreign Workers changes
    Premier Christy Clark set the stage for the fall legislative session with an address to the Vancouver Board of Trade focused on her top priority: the economy.
    Clark took aim at labour force issues, criticizing the federal government's temporary foreign worker policies which she called "'tragically misdirected."
    "My advice to federal politicians is this: If you want to fix the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, maybe they should start with changing the name. Call them 'potential new Canadians,' because they're coming here to help us build our country," she said.
    New rules laid out by the federal government are too onerous and will prevent provinces like B.C. from sourcing the skilled workers needed for resource development projects like LNG, Clark said. She added that the B.C. government's efforts to redesign secondary and post-secondary programs to train people for skills-intensive work, and attempts to woo workers from other provinces are making an impact, but that these actions will be insufficient to meet the pending demand.
    Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney laid out plans in June to limit the number of temporary foreign workers large- and medium-sized companies can hire. At the same time, he announced tougher penalties for companies who violate the rules and ordered inspections to deter abuses. The current program is designed to help employers fill short-term gaps in the labour market, limiting foreign temporary workers to four-year work terms.
    B.C. government releases Jobs Plan update
    The B.C. government released its three-year progress report on the B.C. Jobs Plan, a strategy launched in 2011 to drive economic growth in the province.
    Shirley Bond, minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour, and Grey Kyllo, Parliamentary Secretary for the B.C. Jobs Plan presented the progress report. The report targets new investment and job growth across eight economic sectors: agrifoods; forestry; international education; mining and energy; natural gas; technology; and green economy, tourism and transportation. There is a new focus in the B.C. Jobs Plan on cross-sector strategic priorities: aboriginal peoples and First Nations, international trade, manufacturing, and small business.
    The government says B.C.'s economy is on the right track, touting the province's $3.9 billion in economic growth last year, and 50,000 new jobs created in the province last year, bringing the total of working British Columbians to 2.3 million. The government also says that, of the original 19 targets set out in the Jobs Plan three years ago, 11 have been met and the remaining eight are on schedule to be achieved between now and 2020.
    As part of the B.C. Jobs Plan update this week, the Province also committed funds through the Skills for Jobs Blueprint to 23 partnership projects between public post-secondary institutions and local First Nation communities to deliver education and training. The total investment in the blueprint this year is $6.4 million, which includes $2 million from the Ministry of Advanced Education, and up to $4.4 million from the Government of Canada. 
    Opposition parties target government as legislature returns
    The opposition New Democrats and Green Party are honing in on their parties' priorities and are ready to press Premier Clark and the B.C. Government on key issues with the legislature and Question Period resuming this week.
    This will be B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan's first full season at the helm of his party, and his first real opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Clark. He is expected to grill the government about LNG and concerns raised by business, communities and First Nations about the issues associated with that. He is also expected to question the government about the Mount Polley tailings collapse, government oversight over the operation and efforts to re-open the mine.
    Andrew Weaver, the Green Party's sole MLA, has made the issue of climate change his top priority, and will press the government about resource development's impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
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    This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.