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Three new year’s resolutions for the B.C. government

The new year brings a fresh start, a renewal of energy and a determination for self-improvement. After the challenges of the last two years, I think we are all hoping for better days ahead in 2022.

The new year brings a fresh start, a renewal of energy and a determination for self-improvement.

After the challenges of the last two years, I think we are all hoping for better days ahead in 2022. So perhaps it is time for some new year’s resolutions.

Over the years I’ve found successful new year’s resolutions have five key features:

You have to start where you are. No regrets, it is what it is, and no kidding yourself, either. Take a good look at the data, measure the baseline, understand where you are today.

Next, define the mission. Are things good but you want them to be better? Bad and you want to stop them getting worse? Or perhaps you’re stable for now but in need of action sooner rather than later?

Then, build some energy about what could be. Change can be scary – what gets us over the inertia of the status quo is building some excitement and hope about how much better the future could be and breaking the change down into actionable steps.

Most importantly, decide. Clearly and concretely declare what you’re going to do and to escalate your commitment – you might want to share it publicly.

Finally, put in place a solid structure to stay on track and measure your progress diligently.

Perhaps, as for individuals, so also for governments!

In A New Economic Narrative for BC: BC’s Fiscal Future, a report published by BC Tech, we identified three priority new year’s resolutions for the B.C. government, following this five-step process.

First, we surveyed the data on where B.C.’s government revenues come from and identified five key features of B.C.’s finances today and what the trends have been over the last 20 years.

From there, we identified that the situation has more risk and uncertainty than is generally perceived. B.C.’s aging population, exposure to revenues derived from an overheated housing market and declining resource revenues are each significant risk factors. Action is needed.

On the positive side, we found huge potential for strengthening B.C. government revenues through a new economic development focus. The strong performance and further growth potential of BC’s IP-owning knowledge-based sectors such as the tech sector as well as the opportunity presented by the clean economic transition taking place globally are two key positives.

To improve B.C.’s finances, jobs matter and high-paying jobs in growing sectors matter most of all: The income and consumption taxes paid by individuals are B.C.’s most significant, least volatile revenue sources.

The B.C. government needs to be planning ahead to ensure that revenues come from reliable, sustainable sources that are projected to grow as the global economy transitions. The stakes are high: B.C.’s ability to deliver needed investments in education, health care, child care and infrastructure are at risk over the medium term if we don’t adjust our priorities to the drivers of the 21st century economy

So we’ve proposed three new year’s resolutions for the B.C. government:

1) Invest in sectors with growth potential and which provide high levels of employment and well-paying jobs.

2) Prioritize education and skills training to drive growth in the knowledge-based economy.

3) Capture better data to drive government policy on the economy.

BC Tech’s July 2021 report revealed that B.C.’s economy isn’t what we tell ourselves it is – 75% of our GDP, 80% of our jobs and 50% of our exports are from the services sector. But that isn’t where the B.C. government’s policy and investment focus is, and we think that needs to change.

With BC Tech’s new report, we reveal that BC’s government revenues don’t come from where we think they do either. It’s only when you understand where you are today that you can plan well for the future.

Step 1, look at the facts. Step 2, define the mission, Step 3, create excitement about what could be. Step 4, decide. Step 5, measure progress.

See you mid-year for a new year’s resolution check-in.

Jill Tipping is president and CEO of the BC Tech Association.