Public Affairs Update Header
February 9, 2016
In This Issue
 The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Clark, chambers visit Ottawa, focus on jobs and training
B.C. Premier Christy Clark led a delegation of B.C. cabinet ministers, Chambers and other business leaders to Ottawa last week. The trip’s focus was on jobs and training, and steps that B.C. and Ottawa can take together to develop and attract skilled labour to B.C.’s nascent liquefied natural gas industry.
Both the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce participated in the trip.
On the trip, B.C. and Ottawa committed to working with employers, unions, communities, Indigenous people, the education and training sector and domestic and international partners to address barriers to labour market participation, particularly barriers faced by youth and Indigenous people in B.C. The two governments also agreed to encourage more employers to participate and invest in skills training.

Globally significant landmark agreement reached on Great Bear Rainforest
First Nations, environmental groups and coastal forest industry representatives joined Premier Christy Clark and Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations, last week to celebrate achieving ecosystem-based management in the Great Bear Rainforest.
The Great Bear Rainforest was established through land-use decisions announced in 2006. This globally unique area covers 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia’s north and central coast, and is home to 26 separate First Nations. Ecosystem-based management in the area is defined as “concurrent achievement of high levels of ecological integrity and high levels of human well-being.”
Under the new Great Bear Rainforest land-use order, ecological integrity is achieved through increasing the amount of protected old-growth forest to 70% from 50%. As well, eight new special forest management areas covering almost 295,000 hectares will be off-limits to logging. Six may receive additional protection based on ongoing discussions with First Nations. With the new measures, 85% of the forest will be protected and 15% will be available for logging, supporting local jobs.

B.C. government takes action to keep mine workers on the job
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett has announced action to help keep thousands of B.C.’s metal and coal mines workers on the job by allowing mining companies to temporarily defer a portion of their hydro bills during the current slowdown in the sector due to low commodity prices.
Under the five-year term of the program, which will be delivered by BC Hydro, companies operating metal and coal mines in B.C. will be able to defer a portion of their BC Hydro electricity payments. The amount any mine will be allowed to defer is capped at the equivalent of up to 75% of its electricity costs over two years of the program. As commodity prices recover, the mines will repay the amounts deferred, plus interest.

PM pledges support for Alberta

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Edmonton and Calgary last week and pledged his support for the province as it struggles with low oil prices.
The prime minister confirmed Alberta will receive $700 million in immediate infrastructure investments and $250 million for fiscal stabilization, while acknowledging the need to secure markets for Alberta resources.