The Capital Region needs more high-paying jobs to sustain its economy, the economic officer for the Greater Victoria Development Agency told a business forum this week.
The number of public sector jobs is declining faster than growth in the private sector, which resulted in Greater Victoria producing negative growth of 0.2 per cent in 2013. The local economy is expected to increase by 1.8 per cent this year.
“We have a lot of private sector companies that are growing, (but) the job creation numbers in the private sector are not quite enough to offset the declining numbers in the public service,” said Dallas Gislason, speaking at Chemistry Consulting’s annual economic outlook breakfast on Tuesday.
“Growth is not the only thing we’re striving for, it’s certainly not, but negative growth is certainly not favourable when you have ‘trillion-dollar’ sewer systems to build and stuff like that.”
Last year, the region’s economy produced more than $15 billion, and Greater Victoria has seen 10 per cent growth since 2007.
“A nice sustainable number,” added Gislason, “other than we need to create more (high-paying) jobs.”
He added Greater Victoria sees about a one per cent growth each year, and job creation must also be reflected in that number.
There’s optimism, however, that the tech, ship-building and military sectors may be able to offset those losses with expected boons in the near future. A weakening Canadian dollar heading into tourism season could also be enough to attract more visitors to the region this summer and boost a relatively lucrative sector.
Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said he’s pushed for a balance of investment, fair taxation and international partnerships to help the local economy – and create jobs.
“We’re seeing success in our trade missions, and we need to keep going. Relationships are a process,” Fortin said, adding many Greater Victoria businesses have benefited from those overseas trips.