EDITORIAL: B.C. faces many growth challenges

Statistics Canada’s latest population projections do not bode well for B.C.’s future.

Statistics Canada’s latest population projections do not bode well for B.C.’s future on a number of counts.

The federal agency has B.C. falling to  fourth-largest province in the country, with Alberta moving ahead of it to third. This is projected to happen over the next 20 years or so

B.C. will still be growing — but at a lesser rate than Alberta is projected to grow. Perhaps more dramatically, B.C.’s population of seniors is expected to grow the most, to 27 per cent of the population by 2038. This is a higher-than-usual percentage of seniors.

Their needs bring new challenges to an economy which is already hobbled by minimal growth, and to a province where every resource-based proposal is met with a fury of opposition, leading to very few economic growth options coming to fruition. A province cannot thrive long-term without economic growth. Simple population growth is not enough.

B.C. is already a very expensive place to live, with housing prices in the Lower Mainland among the highest in the country. At the same time, few younger people have the opportunity to make really good incomes, and are thus handicapped from getting ahead.

Taxes in B.C. are already quite high, which is masked by the sleight-of-hand about low income tax rates. However, when the seven per cent PST, ICBC rates,  ferry fares, BC Hydro rates (all of which are tax increases), TransLink taxes and MSP premiums are taken into account, taxes are quite onerous on many people already. Low economic growth will inevitably lead to even higher taxes.

The provincial government is trying to expand jobs in the province by working hard to attract LNG plants and at least having an open mind on pipelines, mines and other projects. It meets opposition at almost every turn, and many B.C. residents simply don’t understand economics. B.C. weather and scenery are great, but they don’t pay the bills.

— Black Press