JOBS SITE How the province is faring in three key areas
role in driving wages up; I think that's something that the market has to deal with. So I'm not sure that there's a strong role for government in telling companies to pay people a lot more.
There is a shortage of talent in a lot of sectors, and there's high demand for skilled and talented employees. So to some extent, as companies want to attract those people, they're going to probably offer more money.
As the U.S. turns inward, what must B.C. do to ensure that it has a global market?
There was some effort done by the previous government in terms of diversifying on the lumber file, developing the Chinese market. And that work has certainly continued. British Columbia relative to Ontario is less dependent on the American market. The Americans are always going to be a very important market for us, but I think the recent turbulence, certainly at the NAFTA level, means that there's probably further incentives to look elsewhere.
But at the same time as the turbulence with the Americans and NAFTA, we've also opened a trade office in Seattle and one in San Francisco. [In December I signed] an agreement on behalf of the government with the governor of Oregon and the lieutenant governor of Washington about an innovation network and initiative between our three governments.
How else is your government supporting the tech sector?
I think we're at a point where when we look back in 10 years, we will say that this was the point at which the tech sector really started to take off. We've got one of the best startup environments in North America.
When I meet with tech companies, they talk about a couple of things; one is talent. Through co-op programs, through funding extra spaces in postsecondary institutions—generally expanding the opportunities to create and train people for the sector—and reaching out through our immigration arm, the Provincial Nominee Program, to some extent, we're endeavouring to address the tech sector.
On the capital side, the previous government started the Tech Fund. We've continued that initiative, and [fund manager Kensington Capital Partners] is making some early-stage investments.
The other thing would be generally the opportunity for trade. That's where the offices, particularly in Seattle and San Francisco, are important to connect people here with venture capital, with companies in the States that want to come here.