Premier Christy Clark is reviving a ten-year-old B.C. Liberal plan to cut red tape as part of her jobs agenda for the fall.
Ms. Clark said Wednesday she has not ruled out a fall election but said she is focused on developing a jobs agenda, to be announced in September, that aims to unlock private sector job creation.
Part of that agenda will be undoing the previous B.C. Liberal government actions that increased environmental regulations and slashed jobs in the civil service.
"We need to be examining – and we are – what government does to get in the way of the creation of jobs," Ms. Clark told CKNW radio. "The private sector creates jobs so we need to get out of their way when they are trying to do that."
She also hinted she is prepared to undo job cuts in the so-called "dirt ministries" – energy, mines and forestry – that issue permits, licenses and tenures.
"You need the permit if you want to go create the jobs, and then we don't have anybody to issue the permit for months and months, in some cases years," she said.
Jock Finlayson, economist for the Business Council of B.C., said the delays in permit approvals can be traced to government cuts in the departments that handle resource development.
"Part of the downsizing of government has taken too deep a slice out of the ministries that we need to be operating at a high level of efficiency," he said, adding that the sectors that have the greatest potential to create jobs in the next five years – energy and mines – need a functioning bureaucracy restored.
Mr. Finlayson was appointed to the government's task force to tackle red tape in October, 2001. That initiative aimed to cut the regulatory burden by one-third, but Mr. Finlayson noted that the regulations and requirements needed to do business in B.C. have since rebounded.
"Government lost interest in containing red tape," he said.
The growth has been in energy and environmental standards, he noted, such as rules for energy-efficient light bulbs, low carbon fuel standards, and new green building requirements.
Opposition leader Adrian Dix said the premier is simply rehashing old ideas in a new package.
"It's like Groundhog Day," he said. "It's a good way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the red tape task force."