Susan Mowbray, manager of economics and research consulting with MNP, makes a presentation Wednesday to accompany a just-released State of the Island economic report. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

State of the Island report foresees moderate economic growth

Report released Wednesday at Vancouver Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo

The Island’s economy is expected to keep growing, but at a moderate rate.

The State of the Island Economic Report for 2018 was presented Wednesday at the Vancouver Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo.

The fourth annual report, prepared by MNP for the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, looked at Island jobs, industry and trends and how they’re being impacted by local and macroeconomic factors.

“In 2019 we’re expecting this gradual slowing because of [a] slowing of population growth, the slowdown of the housing market and these tight labour market conditions that are making it really hard for businesses to retain their employees or attract new employees…” said Susan Mowbray, manager of economics and research consulting with MNP. “Is the economy still going to perform well? Yes. But it’s not going to be growing as quickly. We’re going to see moderation.”

This year’s State of the Island report looked at the business landscape, workforce and industry analyses of tourism, manufacturing, aquaculture and agriculture, forestry, renewable energy, high-tech and education.

Mowbray discussed the labour shortage that B.C. Premier John Horgan talked about earlier in the day, noting that Vancouver Island’s demographics means the region already has low workforce participation, and interprovincial migration in general, which had been a “really important source of labour,” has slowed.

“We’re still hearing from a lot of businesses that they can’t find staff and that there’s a lot of positions that are going unfilled, which means it’s going to be very difficult for them to expand,” Mowbray said.

She said Canadians can expect stability with U.S. exchange rates, as the loonie is expected to stay at 78-80 cents U.S. for the foreseeable future.

“There’s nothing that indicates it’s going to fall out of that range, which will continue to provide support for those important industries here on Vancouver Island like aquaculture, forestry and tourism,” Mowbray said.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will have some impacts, she said, mentioning increased competition for wineries and dairy farmers, expansion of U.S. online shopping options into Canada, and possibly higher vehicle prices down the road.

As for job creation, the State of the Island report notes that some of the top-performing sectors right now are construction, health care and social assistance, real estate and rental and leasing, and accommodation and food services.

Mowbray said building permits are up and construction activity is expected to remain high in 2019.

“There’s a lot of construction going on on Vancouver Island; a lot of it’s being driven by the residential real estate market,” she said.

There are some challenges in forestry, she noted, pointing to timber supply shortages and job losses. There’s also been a decline in commodity-grade lumber prices this fall, she said, and if that trend continues, producers will have a harder time absorbing U.S. duties.

“So far demand has remained high and has kept prices up, so producers have been able to pass those duties on to their customers and there hasn’t been a huge impact on production…” she said. “Forestry is going to continue to be really important to the Vancouver Island economy, just like it’s going to be really important to the B.C. economy, but it’s going to be smaller.”

On the flipside, Mowbray suggested TV and film and cannabis production and distribution could be growing industries on Vancouver Island.

RELATED: Vancouver Island Economic Summit will create connections, spark discussion

James Byrne, MNP regional managing partner for Vancouver Island, said his company believes in what the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance stands for as far as its spirit of entrepreneurship, calculation of risks and rewards, pursuit of big ideas, and diversity of views and perspectives. He said other regions in B.C. look to the Island’s economic co-operation as a model.

“We believe in the potential of Vancouver Island as a region,” Byrne said. “While each of our communities are unique, our collective whole is even greater than the sum of the parts.”



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Bus crash survivor petitions Justin Trudeau to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Rain doesn’t stop dragon boat races at Sproat Lake

12 teams from across Vancouver Island took part

Father and son duo win Iron Man tournament at Alberni Golf Course

Forty men teed it up for the Iron Man tournament on Sunday

EDITORIAL: Issues, not pettiness, must drive election

Who do you trust? Is that what the latest federal election is going to chalk up to?

BIZ BEAT: Alberni Chamber of Commerce to host women in business forum

Jowsey’s partners with WCGH Foundation for fundraiser

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

Most Read