The Hope & District Chamber of Commerce hosted the final installation of its three part lecture series “Future” on Mar. 30 at the rec centre with guest speakers MP Mark Strahl, MLA Laurie Throness, and Richard Truscott VP of CFIB for B.C. and A.B. Part one “Future Enterprise in Hope” was featured in The Hope Standard’s Apr. 7 edition, covering MP Mark Strahl’s presentation to a sold out crowd of 160 guests.
Strahl projected a healthy outlook for the community and promised to continue his investment in the future of Hope, as it moves forward into the new age of the digital economy and a changing infrastructure with the arrival of telecommuters and an overheated housing market.
MLA Laurie Throness followed Strahl, speaking of a healthy and balanced provincial budget that boasts a much sought after Triple-A credit rating.
Throness attributed the success of the budget to positive financial management practices, transparency and access to global capital markets. He projected that B.C.’s economy will continue to grow modestly through 2016, and beyond, citing falling tax-supported debt as a percent of amalgamated operating revenues.
“We are leading the country in the economy — we created 50,000 jobs last year, since 2011 our economy has grown by eight percent,” he said. “That has led us to the Triple-A credit rating, which is the best credit rating you can get.”
One of the reasons he noted for the balanced budget was a debt to GDP ratio that’s incredibly low at 17. 4 per cent in comparison with the US at 108 percent and Japan at 229 per cent.
He projected by 2020, operating debt would be paid off, freeing up money to build.
“We’re building hospitals and schools, roads, and supportive housing,” he said.
The current upgrades BC Hydro is making to their different sites around the province is going to create 71,000 jobs in three years in B.C. alone according to the MLA, along with an aging demographic that is going to free up 700,000 jobs in the province by 2022.
“There will be a huge number of jobs available for young people, so there will be great opportunity.”
Throness mentioned the highly anticipated HSS welding program that opened in 2015.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to train more and more young people into the trades and the kinds of jobs that they can make a good living at.”
He also noted that B.C. has the lowest taxes in Canada and that revisions to MSP premiums bode well to help seniors and families in the social sector. Throness promised to continue to champion for Hope on all fronts in the foreseeable future during his remaing time as the Chilliwack-Hope MLA before the riding is changed in the upcoming boundary revisal, with Hope going to the Fraser-Nicola riding.
Richard Truscott VP of Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) for B.C. and A.B. followed Throness, outlining some of the issues related to municipal governments in the past ten years including the need to continue with strong economic development and to ensure that it remains sustainable across time.
He went so far as to suggest that some of the larger municipalities are responsible for a misappropriation of funds, as was shown in graph charts, inferring a discrepancy in municipality spending during a careful slide presentation.
Despite a few awkward groans in the audience with politicians nearby, Truscott, who represents the respectable non profit organization of CFIB (a membership that consists of small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country) which been around for 25 years, caught the attention of guests with the suggestive figures.
Truscott spoke proudly of his membership with CFIB and alluded to a strong future in Hope if it continues to nurture small business development.
“We have 10,000 members in B.C. and 50 in the Hope area,” he said. “We have members in every sector of the economy.”
According to Truscott, 50 per cent of all Canadians are employed in the small business sector and that’s half of the country’s current economic development. The future of Hope is dependent on the survival of this sector.
“Small business is a big stabilizing factor in our current economy and they are also the heart and soul of our communities.”