My thoughts and prayers go out to the community of Peachland and the many families who have been evacuated from their homes on relatively short notice due to the threat of the current wildfire.
For many of us, our homes represent more than just our life equity, but also our memories from some of life’s most precious moments.
The safety of our loved ones must always come first and I am pleased that current reports to date confirm that local residents and animals have been safely evacuated.
I am certain we all share our deepest condolence for those who have suffered the loss of a family home and let us hope that the fire will be fully and safely contained in the very near future.
I would also like to pass on a special thank you to the many first responders, volunteers and other professionals who have worked so tirelessly to co-ordinate and assist those in need and to battle this fire and prevent further damage. Hopefully by the time many of you read this week’s report this fire will be fully contained if not extinguished.
On a different topic for those who deal frequently with the BC Safety Authority, please be aware of some pending service changes. To date most BC Safety Authority enquiries can be made through Service B.C and through BC Online.
Currently the BC Safety authority is transitioning to be able to directly provide services. For telephone inquiries residents can contact 1-866-566-7233. This same number can also be accessed for information on the new online web portal that will soon be able to service customers online as well.
If you have difficulty in connecting with the BC Safety Authority or any provincially provided service please do not hesitate to contact my office for assistance and also to share any problems that you encounter.
Some good news for British Columbia in other areas has been recently reported. Specifically, investment activity in B.C. during the second quarter of this year has risen by 71 per cent compared with the same period last year. This was the largest increase recorded by any Canadian province and demonstrates the importance of competitive taxation and regulatory requirements.
Investments are what lead to employment and it is also noteworthy to recognize that Statistics Canada has also recognized that British Columbia now ranks first in Canada for the creation of new jobs over the past twelve months.
Last month B.C. recorded 15,000 new jobs and a corresponding decrease of the unemployment rate as it has dropped down to 6.7 per cent. Over the past twelve month period in British Columbia close to 52,000 net new jobs have been created, this is the highest increase among Canadian provinces.
Beyond these numbers, it is also important to recognize the relationship between investment and jobs. As an example, when a significant financial investment was made to increase cross laminated lumber construction in Okanagan Falls, new jobs were created.
This was critically important for a community that had lost a major lumber mill. It should also be recognized that one aspect of the HST that was often criticized was that companies would no longer pay a provincial sales tax on some capital expenditures that existed in the PST system.
Taxing capital expenditures can serve as a disincentive for investment and was one of the reasons why HST was promoted as being a “job creation” taxation format. I am not suggesting that HST alone is responsible for B.C.’s currently improving employment and investment situation however it is important to recognize that government fiscal policies can help to attract investment and job creation much as they can serve to drive them away.
Let us never take for granted the importance of jobs and the critical need to attract investment that creates those jobs here in British Columbia.