The year is new, but Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo already has all eyes on the future.
“I see my role as moving things forward,” said the first-term MLA. “The economy and infrastructure projects, those are all things I’m looking to advance, both in our province and in our riding.”
Kyllo says, under the Liberal government’s direction, the province in well positioned for growth and increasing prosperity, even in light of economic uncertainties brought on by a decline in the oil industry.
He notes some of Canada’s chief economists have forecast B.C. to lead the pack in terms of growth in 2016.
He points to the strides the province has made in diversifying its economy in sectors like natural gas, agri-foods and technology, as well as the focus on creating new markets in Asia, as key to B.C.’s economic success.
“It’s the old saying of not keeping all your eggs in one basket. With forest, mining, natural gas and the new LNG industry, plus tourism, tech and international education, we’re the envy of other provinces in Canada.”
While he acknowledges the Liberals’ emphasis on LNG has critics, Kyllo cites it as critical to the province’s future prosperity.
The Petronas project, he says, has a value of $44 billion, and would make it the single largest private investment in the country. It’s impact on the economy as a whole would ripple across nearly every area and sector in the province, he says.
“To get our heads about how big it is, the Site C dam, which is one of the largest infrastructure projects, is valued at around $9 billion, if that puts things into perspective.”
Kyllo also cites the past three years of balanced budgets as evidence of the province’s economic stability and an critical climate to support investors.
“Our triple A credit rating also means we can borrow at low interest rates, which if you compare us to Ontario’s rating, has saved us $2.1 billion in interest alone. I know a lot of people think, ‘who cares?’ about stuff like this, but it really has a significant impact to taxpayers.”
The economy is Kyllo’s forté, noting he is the first non-cabinet member to be asked to sit on Premier Christy Clark’s priorities and planning committee.
“It’s great to have that voice at the table and also to make sure the needs of rural B.C. and the Shuswap are represented.”
While he concurs that B.C. has its share of social issues, Kyllo says a better economic climate will help solve those issues.
“The economic engine pulls the cart of social programs,” he says, pointing to a new program which will offer single parents funding for child care, transportation and training grants to re-enter the workforce.
“It makes sense to offer our government supports to a program that will get people back into the workforce and able to provide for their families.”
Asked to look back at the past year, Kyllo cites a number of key accomplishments including highway upgrades throughout the region.
“The transportation projects especially will really help with safety and the ability for people to move both themselves and goods around the province.”