Just more good news for Prince George and BC. Thought I would pass along. Cheers!
There is lots of good news on the economic front right now with new unemployment numbers released yesterday, credit ratings, lumber prices and a general sense of optimism. Perhaps the Spring season brings out the best in everyone but it sure is nice to see some solid economic indicators.
This past week I had 2 different bills in front of the House, the Net Zero Deforestation Act and an Amendment to the Forest Act. The Net Zero Deforestation is world leading and will ensure we have trees to harvest well into the future. It does not create penalties for cutting trees down but will create incentives for planting trees in deforested areas. The Amendment bill does a number of things including allowing for a new type of scaling that facilitates getting wood to secondary users such as fence post and rail and bioenergy manufacturers.
This weekend I’m in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life and plan on doing a 10k run later today. Sunday will be Mothers Day with Brenda and her Mom. We’ll spend the day getting Brenda’s garden ready to go and her hanging baskets, our usual Mothers Day tradition.
Have a great week!
Pat Bell - http://www.patbellmla.bc.ca/
1. According to Opinion 250 “There were 5,000 jobs created in the Cariboo region last month and that was a big boost to making the unemployment rate plunge. In Prince George the rate is now 6.9%, down 4.9% from April of last year. The Cariboo region's rate is now 8.2%, down from 12% a year ago. Provincially the rate fell as well, as the B.C. rate is 7.3%, down from 7.6% Nationally, the rate remained unchanged at 8.1.”
2. Due to strong lumber prices, effective June 1, B.C.’s softwood lumber producers will no longer pay any tax on their shipments to the U.S.. (China and Japan shipments have been except from any border tax all the way along.) Under the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement, companies exporting softwood lumber to the United States are required to pay an export tax on their shipments. The formula for determining the tax is based on the average price over a four-week period 21 days before the start of the month. The higher the average lumber price is, the lower the export tax. In this case, since the four-week average lumber price, as given by the Random Lengths Framing Composite Price Index, is now $US361 per thousand board feet, the export tax rate that will be in effect June 1, will be zero.
3. According to the Canadian Press (CP) “VANCOUVER _ A bond rating agency has given B.C. a glowing economic report, upholding the province's debt rating and suggesting it could return to a balanced budget a year earlier than expected. The Dominion Bond Rating Service is maintaining B.C.'s long and short-term debt ratings at high, noting B.C. has one of the lowest debt burdens among all provinces. However, it also says it expects the debt to grow over the next two years because of higher spending on health and public works stimulus projects before debt loads begin to shrink again. The service says the province's forecast for economic growth of 2.2 per cent this year appears conservative in the face of private sector projections of 3.4 per cent. Dominion says revenues from taxes and natural resources are expected to rise over the next two years, along with federal transfers related to the harmonized sale tax and the province might return to a balanced budget by the 2012-2013 fiscal year, instead of the following year. When Finance Minister Colin Hansen brought down his budget in March, he said the province hoped to wipe out its $1.7 billion deficit by the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
4. A two-year agreement has been ratified with the Province’s public service employees. The agreement covers more than 27,000 members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, who provide expertise in a variety of areas from frontline workers to researchers and analysts, to system technicians and others. Public servants perform a wide range of occupations that provide British Columbians with the services they rely on, including health care, public safety, education and environmental management, to name a few.
5. British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta launched the New West Partnership, creating an economic powerhouse of nine million people with a combined GDP of more than $550 billion. The New West Partnership is an ambitious agreement that will create Canada’s largest interprovincial barrier-free trade and investment market and see the three westernmost provinces work together in unprecedented ways to the benefit of workers, businesses and investors in all three provinces.
6. Small businesses in rural B.C. will benefit from amendments – introduced under a Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act – that will enable the Forestry Community Business Loans Program to assist a broader range of rural small businesses. The program, called the Community Business Loans Program, will continue to provide repayable, interest-bearing loans of up to $150,000 to small and medium-sized businesses to support the diversification of rural economies, innovation in private sector enterprise, and the creation of new employment opportunities . Loan applications will continue to be assessed and approved by development corporations in accordance with the eligibility criteria set out in the amended contribution agreements.
7. British Columbia’s new Clean Energy Act sets the foundation for a new future of electricity self-sufficiency, job creation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, powered by unprecedented investments in clean, renewable energy across the province. Bill 17 builds upon British Columbia’s unique heritage advantages and wealth of clean, renewable energy resources. The act advances 16 specific energy objectives by expediting clean energy investments, protecting B.C. ratepayers, ensuring competitive rates, encouraging conservation, strengthening environmental protection and aggressively promoting regional job creation and First Nations involvement in clean electricity development opportunities.
8. Amendments to the Emergency and Health Services Act as part of a miscellaneous bill supports government’s commitment to integrate the ambulance service more closely with the health system, particularly in rural and remote areas, with innovative ways to enhance and expand the role that paramedics play in serving patients. By bringing paramedics closer to the health system, they will be empowered to make health-care decisions to improve patient care. Examples of where the Province sees paramedics providing additional support include dealing with people who have chronic diseases in residential-care facilities, joining home- and community-care workers in supporting clients in their homes, and providing care in emergency departments. This will really help smaller communities like Mackenzie where many of the paramedics are on call only.
9. The newly-formed Wood Enterprise Coalition, backed with $1.75 million in seed funding, will help B.C. achieve its Wood First objectives. The Wood Enterprise Coalition is a partnership between WoodWORKS! BC, FPInnovations, and the BC Wood Specialties Group. As outlined in the Wood Enterprise Coalition memorandum of understanding, the partners will co-ordinate their efforts to support the value-added forest product sector through promotion, education, training, product development and innovation. Governed by the managing organizations and supported by an advisory board, the coalition structure allows for additional resources and new participants to join as it moves forward.
10. The Province will extend provincial incentives for the popular LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program for participants entering the program as of April 1, 2010. The BC 2010 budget announced a further investment of $35 million for the LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program, which provides financial support to households for energy assessments and energy efficiency building retrofits. These incentives are being provided in partnership with provincial utility providers, Terasen Gas, BC Hydro, and FortisBC. This financial commitment has helped to ensure that the program continues. The incentives being offered are almost the same as the original 2008 LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program incentives.