As Premier I am committed to making a difference in the lives of British Columbians by supporting families, opening government, and fostering strong job growth. British Columbians expect us to bring forward results that will make a real difference in their lives and we’ve delivered.
We are making life more affordable for families by keeping hydro rates low and ending the AirCare program. We announced the first Family Day in B.C. and increased the minimum wage, meaning B.C. now has Canada’s second-highest minimum wage. Most importantly, nearly 60,000 net new jobs have been created since February 2011, as result of our government’s relentless focus on jobs and growing the economy.
Over the summer and into the fall, our government will be reaching out to British Columbians to find new ways to support families, to engage with government, and to create more jobs and economic prosperity for B.C.
We want to make government more open, accountable and accessible to those it serves – you, the people of British Columbia.
You have told us open government is about participating in the process to improve the policies and services that impact your lives. It’s also about being more open with information and giving people more access and tools to the services they need and use.
As a government, we want to hear from the people we serve. We do not have all the answers, nor do we pretend to.
We have been listening to the concerns of British Columbians and delivering – be it on a provincial level, working in conjunction with local partners, or just improving online services and access to information.
More information is now available on DataBC, with more uploaded weekly. DataBC is your place to find data, services, applications and the tools you need to help you make informed decisions, develop ideas to improve government policies.
In making the second Monday in February Family Day, B.C.’s new statutory holiday, we listened to British Columbians. Record numbers participated in online discussions and shared their thoughts. More than 31,000 people voted on their preference, and consultations were made with labour, business and public sector organizations.
We’ve increased the number of FrontCounter BC offices, giving more British Columbians access to provincial government services.
In conjunction with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, we’re working on poverty reduction strategies in seven municipalities.
We’re hearing from leaders in Burns Lake to help them rebuild after the mill tragedy in their community.
We’re listening to seniors and their families in shaping the role of the Office of the Seniors Advocate.
These efforts are paying off – B.C. was ranked number one in Canada for eGovernment by the Stratford Institute, and we’ve earned the silver medal in open government at this year’s Institute of Public Administration/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Awards.
While we’ve accomplished a great deal, our government knows more work must be done – and we will continue the work to enhance open government.
If you have an idea about improving open government, we want to hear it! Please let us know how government can serve you by contacting us.
Creating jobs for British Columbia’s families in every region of the province is our government’s most important priority.
To encourage businesses to create new and protect current jobs, our government has instituted a relentless focus to strengthen our economy through Canada Starts Here: The BC Job Plan – a comprehensive package of policies and initiatives with defined targets.
When it comes to trade and economic development, our government is taking a strong leadership position in Canada. This is why we called the BC Jobs Plan “Canada Starts Here,” possible because of the diversity of our people, our unmatched geographic advantage to Asia, which are both supported by a strong and established foundation of fiscal prudence.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen great progress made on The BC Jobs Plan, including launching the strategies for the natural gas, forestry, transportation, and mining and minerals sectors. It is these sector strategies that are guiding our government on these file.
Trade is vital to British Columbia’s prosperity and we have been busy promoting “the B.C. brand” overseas. In May, Premier Christy Clark led a successful trade mission to South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines during which 25 business deals and partnership agreements were signed or announced worth more than half a billion dollars.
In April, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Services affirmed their triple-A credit ratings for B.C., their highest possible ratings. These independent assessments were earned because of our track record of prudent fiscal management, our highly competitive tax rates, and B.C.’s shifting trade mix toward Asia rather than North America.
Ninety-eight per cent of businesses in B.C. are small businesses, and we’re making it easier for more of them to get up and running. In the past few months, we’ve helped add 10 more communities to the BizPaL network, an online business permit and licence service that saves entrepreneurs time and money. Today, 110 B.C. communities offer BizPaL.
We’re also helping young people find jobs here at home. JobFest hit the road and is crisscrossing B.C., connecting and educating youth on the multitude of career opportunities. We also provided a $1 million grant to Junior Achievement to ensure our entrepreneurial youth have access to business skills and are prepared to enter the labour force or start their own businesses.
Our government’s focus on jobs is achieving results – from February 2011 to April 2012, B.C. created nearly 60,000 net new jobs. As we move forward with the BC Jobs Plan and make it easier for our companies to trade with Asia, there will be more jobs and employment opportunities in B.C.
When Christy Clark first became Premier, she made a commitment to put Families First. In carrying out our pledge, we have implemented family-friendly initiatives relating to Affordability, Education, Health, Housing, Environment, Transportation, and Public Safety.
To keep costs for families as affordable as possible, our government introduced tax incentives such as the Children’s Fitness Credit and Children’s Arts Credit. Likewise, we ensured that British Columbians receive a fair, livable salary by increasing the minimum wage to $10.25. This means a full-time worker can earn up to $4,000 per year more.
Children deserve the best opportunities to succeed, and this begins with a good education. We doubled the Learning Improvement Fund from $30 million to $60 million to help school districts hire additional teachers and special education teachers. We’re also taking steps to ensure that students can learn in a safe environment. Under the Seismic Mitigation Program, we’ve invested $122 million towards seismic upgrades for 14 schools across B.C.
Healthy families are happy families – and our government is stepping up, increasing spending on health care by $1.5 billion over three years to nearly $17.3 billion in 2014-15. This funding will support initiatives such as the Smoking Cessation Program, and help construct new health care facilities, such as two new hospitals for North Island communities.
Over the past 10 years, our government has invested $2.8 billion to ensure that low-income families, individuals, and seniors have access to affordable housing. This investment has benefitted more than 95,000 B.C. households this year alone. Our government also recognizes that young families may find it particularly challenging to purchase their first home. The B.C. First-Time New Home Buyers’ Bonus provides a personal income tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help families get a foot in the door – literally.
British Columbia is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty. BC Parks has taken innovative steps to allow more families to enjoy it – ideas like the text-to-donate to kids programs and free parking.
Our government takes public safety very seriously, and has introduced programs to keep our justice system efficient and effective. We’ve appointed new sheriffs and judges, and introduced programs such as the Elder Abuse Prevention Strategy and the Communities that Care program help seniors and at-risk youth.
Last but certainly not least, we believe families are so important; they deserve their own stat holiday. We hope you’re as excited as we are about Family Day, starting next year on February 11.