The province is prepared to weather the storm. That’s the message British Columbia’s political leaders are sending out in wake of Alberta’s troubled economy and dropping commodity prices.
The provincial government announced to it’s taking action to keep at least one sector afloat.
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett was in Williams Lake to make an announcement on keeping mine workers on the job.
“Each of the 13 operating mines in the province will have the opportunity to advise BC Hydro that they would like to defer 75 per cent of their power costs for up to 24 months. They will then be required to enter into a legal agreement with BC Hydro in which they will promise to pay not only the deferred amounts back but a rate of interest at well.”
Bennett explains low copper and coal prices have put operations at a number of BC’s mines at risk. Some mines have already been forced to reduce production and jobs. Currently, there are eight metal mines and five coal mines operating in the province, employing around 7,500 workers.
“The reason we’re doing this is to help these company’s make the decision to stay open as long as possible while these commodity prices are low so people can be employed and continue to put food on the table.”
Today’s news follows LNG Canada’s announcement made earlier this week to delay it’s final investment decision into its proposed export facility in Kitimat. Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training, Shirley Bond, says BC can weather the economic storm because unlike our neighbors to the east, British Columbia has a diverse economy that doesn’t rely on just one industry.
“I was with LNG Canada yesterday in Ottawa as we told British Columbia’s story that includes LNG, but obviously we have a very diverse economy. We received assurances that a final investment decision will be made in 2016, the end of 2016. And certainly form my perspective there is a strong sense of commitment to British Columbia. We have a diversified economy. We want to focus on a new industry, liquefied natural gas, but we’re not just sitting here relying on that. We have an incredibly diverse economy. It’s a tough economy out there right now. But I have every sense that LNG Canada wants to make this work in British Columbia, we’re just going to have to wait a little bit longer to find out.”
While uncertainty continues in the province’s resource sectors, provincial leaders are confident the province can weather the storm.