EDITORIAL: Province faces growth challenges

B.C.’s population growth not being sustained in economic ways

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  the fourth-largest province in the country, with Alberta moving ahead of it to third.

This change 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 though, 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, who for the most part will not be working and contributing to long-term economic growth.

At the same time, they will put added pressure on the health care system.

This is not to say that seniors are bad for a province or an economy. It is simply that 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.

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. Anyone who has tried to buy a home in Greater Victoria can attest to that fact.

At the same time, few younger people have the opportunity to make really good incomes, and are thus handicapped from getting ahead. They often choose to leave the province for the promise of better paying jobs.

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, B.C. 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.

B.C.’s weather and scenery are great, but they don’t pay the bills.