Last year, our economy continued to suffer from the impact of
the 2009 global recession.
Our region had a relatively slow year in terms of economic
activity, which led to poor labour market conditions and a loss of
valuable human capital to nearby regions and Alberta.
According to the BC Check-Up, Regional Edition, the
Thompson-Okanagan experienced the largest loss of jobs since 2009,
with a contraction of 7,500 jobs; more than three times the
Construction and tourism, two economic drivers for our region,
both suffered extensive job losses in 2013.
An additional 6,000 individuals also chose to opt out of the
labour force, and our unemployment rate climbed to 7.1 per
These factors underlined our region's weak economy, and many
workers left to seek employment elsewhere in B.C. or Alberta.
Development activity in our region also fell to its lowest level
in six years, as the total value of major capital projects dropped
to $24.5 billion in 2013. This was 27.9 per cent below the
region's pre-recession peak.
However, the total value of proposed projects by the end of last
year saw an increase of 8.3 per cent, to $7 billion. This is
primarily the result of the $1-billion multi-year mixed-use
development project in Peachland.
Comparatively, the value of projects under construction in
December 2013 totaled $16.3 billion, which was one percent less
than the previous year.
Most were residential, commercial and resort projects, including
several large multi-year projects that have been in progress for
These projects include the $2.1-billion Glenmore Highlands
Development and $1 billion Tower Ranch Golf resort in Kelowna;
$1.5-billion Lakestone Resort, $1-billion Revelstoke Mountain Ski
resort, $1 billion Ponderosa development in Peachland, and
$1-billion Rise Resort development in Vernon.
The go ahead of a few of these projects will encourage economic
activity and buoy some of the primary industries.
Our region can also capitalize on the increasing venture capital
(VC) investments that are coming to B.C.
Last year, VC investments in our province increased from $198
million in 2012, to reach $478 million.
Although much of the VC investments went to Southwest B.C., our
region also benefitted as it has the second-largest cluster of
digital media companies in the province, including Disney
Interactive's Club Penguin that generates more than $40 million
in annual sales.
It is also home to the Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre,
which is an important incubator for high-tech companies.
Continued efforts in maturing our technology sector will bring
long-term economic benefits and attract educated and skilled
Our economic prospects in 2014 remain uncertain at this point. The
expansion of the forestry industry resulting from higher demand
from the recovering U.S. and growing Asian markets should improve
However, the mining industry is facing the challenge of softened
commodity prices, which may delay operation of new mines and impact
production at existing operations.
A lower Canadian dollar will potentially improve the export
market, attract tourists, and induce some second-home investors
back to the region.
There was also a moderate surge in property sales attributed to
low interest rates and price reductions that increased housing
starts in the latter part of the year. However, housing inventories
remain high, which will continue to dampen development and
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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