Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

The federal economic development minister says business leaders in British Columbia want to work with a new development agency aiming to help them endure the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the future.

Melanie Joly said she’s heard from entrepreneurs and business owners across B.C. about the support for a home-based economic development agency, including during an online forum Friday with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

Joly said the promised B.C.-based agency will provide targeted economic support and relief in the form of loans, subsidies and advice about federal programs.

“People want to be able to have access to levers to survive the economic crisis and the pandemic, but at the same time people want to talk about the future and want to be optimistic as the vaccinations roll out,” she said in a phone interview.

Joly said she’s heard in panel discussions with business leaders that they’re concerned about the distance between Ottawa and B.C. as entrepreneurs argue for an agency that is closer to home.

“There’s a feeling of disconnection towards the federal government,” she said. “That has created sometimes frustration on the part of people in B.C. We need to increase our impact, our footprint. We need to make sure that people trust the fact that the federal government is there for them.”

Joly, who is also the minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, said B.C. entrepreneurs have told her the province’s economy was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic and they need help now to get them through.

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year, she said, adding the budget for the new B.C. agency has not been set and there’s no date yet for an opening date.

“I always have a sense of urgency in life,” Joly said after her meeting with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. “I’m a very impatient person, so the team and I are working extremely hard to make sure we can launch this new B.C. agency but we need to make sure we do things right.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The Vernon Recreation Centre Auditorium will be used as a COVID-19 vaccination clinic as of March 8, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon recreation centre to be used as COVID-19 vaccination clinic

The clinic will be open March 8 and could be in place for eight months

A herd of turkeys caused a traffic jam in Armstrong March 3. (Video still)
Turkeys talk back at traffic in Spallumcheen

VIDEO: ‘Bossy little buggers refused to move’

Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)
Okanagan Basin Water Board calls for stronger invasive mussel protection

Letter sets out six recommendations for environment minister George Heyman to consider

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Thomas Kruger-Allen is expected to be sentenced Friday, March 5, 2021.
Sentencing expected Friday for 2019 Penticton beach attack

Defense wants 12 to 18 months for beach assaults that left one of his victims with brain injury

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read