(COQUITLAM) May 16, 2023 — The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce hosted BC Premier David Eby, Scotiabank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Jean-François Perrault, and a highly accomplished speaker panel at its Economic Summit today in Coquitlam, with more than 170 in attendance.
Keynote address: BC Premier David Eby
"It is because of your efforts... because of the world-class talent that we have here in British Columbia, the remarkable resources, the commitment that we all have to building this province, that we have experienced the best economic recovery coming out of the pandemic, nationally," said BC Premier David Eby. "We have one of the strongest economies right now [in the country], and this is due to a number of different sectors likely represented here in this room today. Life sciences and mining are booming... Our tech sector is growing at the highest rate in North America."
On his government's approach to the economy, Eby stated, "One of the things that's been really consistent through our time in government, is we believe you can't separate the economy from the people of the province. By investing in the people of British Columbia, we are investing in building up BC's economy, and the results from that approach to date are quite clear. Our five-year GDP growth is the highest of all big provinces in Canada."
Provincial strategies on housing, childcare spaces, labour force, skills development, healthcare and mental health, and indigenous reconciliation were among the topics the Premier addressed.
"We are also looking outside our borders for new business opportunities to grow and strengthen our economy, and diversify our trade relationships," Eby said. "Later this month, I'm leading a trade mission to Asia. We are going to Korea, Singapore, and Japan. And one of the things... that is becoming really clear from those countries, is that the world is hungry for BC's products... Our high standards on the environment... and moving towards a low-carbon economy are all significant advantages for British Columbia in the global marketplace right now. In fact, we're seeing evidence of exactly that. BC exports set a record in 2022, reaching $64.9 billion. That was a 20 per cent increase over the previous year. And BC's exports are up almost 70 per cent since we formed government. We were once told that these high standards we have would put us at an economic disadvantage, but in fact the reality has proven to be quite different."
Eby stated if there was one big lesson learned from the pandemic, it's that our province can be resilient and thrive when government, public sector, and private sector are nimble and work together on solutions.
Keynote address: Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist Jean-François Perrault, Scotiabank
"The reality has been that over the past number of years it's just been a pretty weird environment to try and make forecasts, or think about how to run a business, or run a government," said Jean-François Perrault, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, Scotiabank, in his keynote that covered inflation, interest rates, and the efforts to slow down the economy amidst record population growth and strong employment numbers. "A [future] recession is good news. Because it means that... the Bank of Canada is probably done raising interest rates. And it means that inflation is almost certainly on a better path than if we don't get that slowdown."
Apart from the outside chance the United States may choose to default on its national debt, which would have massive implications for the world economy and cause a hard recession, Perrault said the other things to manage are much more positive. "The risk is that the economy doesn't slow enough... The risk is that firms keep hiring people. The risk is that we have even more people coming into the country. Those are all things that at the end of the day... are much better challenges to have than a situation where things are freefalling and we don't know how to fix it."
Perrault ended his talk discussing Canada's and B.C.'s unprecedented population growth, and what it means for planning the future of hospitals, schools, and infrastructure. He urged the politicians and business leaders present to think about how to "...maximize the value we get out of this incredible gift of having stronger population growth, as it can really make or break municipalities and some provinces for years to come."
Speaker Panel: Innovation and Economic Development in Challenging Times
Hayley Woodin, Editor-in-Chief, Business in Vancouver, moderated a discussion with speaker panelists Jeanette Jackson, CEO, Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre and Invest Vancouver Board Director, Jade Herrmann, Founder & CEO, Yoggu!, Edward Chiang, Co-Founder & CEO, Moment Energy, and Andre Isakov, Manager, Economic Development, City of Coquitlam.
"As we all well know, we are in challenging times," said Woodin. "It's challenging for consumers... it's certainly challenging for business owners and organizations. And it's challenging, too, for policy-makers who are trying to help us navigate some incredibly complex fiscal, economic, environmental, and social problems...We have a well-accomplished, established panel who are going to talk about some of their experiences. They each have a unique perspective to share."
Panelists discussed strategies and experiences with scaling-up, quality control, emerging and clean technologies, and planning cities and communities for long-term success, among other topics.
Presented by Rise CPA, the Tri-Cities Chamber Economic Summit sponsors included Fortis BC, Woodbridge, Study 2020, Butter Studios, TriCity News, and Sandpiper Signs & Decals.
Since 1971, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce has been the largest business association serving Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, and Belcarra, now representing 1,000+ organizations from every sector. The Chamber works to foster economic development, provide connections and benefits, and influence public policy at all levels of government to ensure strong business and strong communities. The Tri-Cities Chamber is an active member of the BC and Canadian Chambers of Commerce.