3 , 2009
Liberal Gov Economic Spin
right side of the main BC
Liberal government website contains a long list of links,
some as graphics, a few as text. Way down the list is "positive
economic indicators". With job losses and welfare
claims mounting, we could all use some positive economic news.
The only problem is the website is full of misleading information
July 2nd, the first item on the positive site says: "In
May 2009, B.C.'s average weekly wage rate was approximately
$790 per week, the third highest in Canada. The average weekly
raise has risen by $142 - or 22 per cent - since 2001 ($648)."
The Liberal government likes to make comparisons to 2001,
the year it came to power. The positive news doesn't mention
that over on the BC
Stats website a monthly report is available on earnings
and employment trends. Table 2.1 in the May 2009 report (issued
June 5) shows that in 1999 BC had the second highest average
weekly wage rate in Canada. Alberta's average weekly wage
rate didn't pass BC's until 2004 when the average in BC was
$686.74 and the average in Alberta $703.63 (Ontario $721.00).
Also not mentioned in the positive news is that the $16.89
lead Alberta had in 2004 grew to $125.84 in May 2009; in 1999
BC was $34.25 AHEAD of Alberta.
item on the positive news site says: "In March 2009,
the value of non-residential building permits was worth $307
million, an increase of 30 per cent compared to the same time
in 2008." That sounds good until you look at the Statistics
Canada report that is the source for the "positive
news". It says:
value of building permits increased in half of the provinces
most significant increases occurred in Ontario (+45.7% to
$1.8 billion), Quebec (+30.3% to $1.0 billion) and Alberta
(+34.1% to $696 million). The increases were mostly a result
of higher construction intentions in the non-residential
occurred in the Atlantic provinces, except for Newfoundland
and Labrador, as well as Manitoba and British Columbia."
On a seasonally
adjusted basis, the value of residential building permits
in BC in March 2009 was $223.82
million; in March 2008 it was $670.86
million, a devastating drop of $447 million.
item on the positive news site says: "Despite the global
economic downturn, the number and value of major construction
projects planned or underway across British Columbia went
up during the fourth quarter of 2008, with 880 major construction
projects, worth an estimated $179.4 billion." Not mentioned
on the website was that: "Forty-nine major construction
projects are on hold, worth an estimated $14.2 billion".
While not on the positive news site, that information was
in the Ministry's
February news release and in the project inventory report.
Projects Inventory for the first
three months of 2009 is now available but not what it
says is not mentioned on the positive news site, namely:
capital cost of all major construction projects currently
under construction in BC is estimated at $63.2 billion,
up from $60 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. Many
major project proposals are listed In the preliminary stages
and are not approved for construction; therefore, capital
cost estimates should be viewed with caution."
say that again! In other words, don't believe the numbers.
quarter 2009 report goes on to say: "The available capital
cost of proposed projects is estimated at $102.7 billion,
down from $105.0 billion in the previous quarter. Approximately
$18.3 billion of projects are judged to be "on hold"
for the time being." The positive news website could
have said that major projects on-hold increased by $4 billion,
but that wouldn't be positive.
item on the positive news site says: "The 2008-09 fiscal
year oil and gas land rights sales total of $2.4-billion trumped
the previous record-breaking year by $1.2 billion, and broke
every tracked record for oil and gas land rights sales in
British Columbia." Sales of drilling rights may be the
good news story, but this is not a bottomless pit. The government
must take the revenue in over several years, showing it as
deferred revenue on its balance sheet. That deferral increased
from $1.7 billion in 2007 to $2.4 billion in 2008 (Note 15
Public Accounts). It will be interesting to see that updated
note when the next set of Public Accounts are released in
a few weeks, but government needs to think about what happens
when the non-renewable resources are exhausted (or at least
when the drilling rights are exhausted). Just look at Alberta's
deficit to see what happens when good luck with oil and gas
the Liberal government continue to promote "positive
economic news" on its website despite all facts to the
contrary? Perhaps the almost hidden placement of the link
to the positive page is a hint; they might fear the news coverage
if they admitted the well has run dry and eliminated the link.
May 2008 over 21,700 people have joined BC's welfare rolls,
and over 60,000 have lost their jobs. Those people aren't
interested in government spin about positive economic news.