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Salmon farmers potential to lead BC’s economic recovery. An independent report out indicates British Columbia’s (BC) salmon farming industry in Canada has the potential to be a leader in BC’s post-pandemic economic recovery by stimulating $44 billion in new economic output by 2050.

This report, Raising Opportunity: How Farm-Raised Salmon Can Lead BC’s Post-COVID Recovery, was published by RIAS Inc., an independent economics consulting firm. It concludes that if Ottawa and Victoria are able to provide a predictable policy approach, salmon farmers in BC are poised to help lead Canada’s Blue Economy and recovery from COVID-19 by directly investing $1.4 billion in innovation, new technology, and infrastructure through 2050 – $113 million by 2021, an additional $684 million by 2030, and the remaining $618 million through 2050.

These investments, in total, will stimulate $44 billion in cumulative economic output for the province over the next 30 years and create nearly 10,000 new jobs in coastal communities on Vancouver Island, mainland, and the Sunshine Coast.

“Like many First Nations in BC, the Tlowitsis are eager to grow our community and develop a lasting economy from our traditional territory,” Chief John Smith of the Tlowitsis First Nation said.

“Developing salmon farms in Clio Channel is a cornerstone for our Nation, another farm would be even better, and I wish this partnership happened earlier.”

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Canadian economy and revealed the need to build robust and resilient food systems here at home. Depending on the magnitude of a potential second wave, Canada is expecting a $343.2 billion deficit with the economy expected to contract at least 6.8%.

The provincial economy is also expected to shrink by 6.8% in BC, with many job losses coming from youth. In 2020, BC is expecting the largest deficit in history of $12.5 billion.

“Many of the regions where salmon farming operations play a significant role in supporting local vendors are in the northern and western regions of Vancouver Island that have been experiencing declines in employment,’ said George Hanson, President of Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA).

VIEA supported the overall report development and offered insight into the COVID-19 impacts on Vancouver Island’s economy.

Report findings are clear that private sector investment will be critical in supporting the economic recovery of British Columbia, especially rural coastal Vancouver Island.

“As shown in our recent ‘Raising Opportunity’ report, this industry has tremendous potential to generate economic activity, jobs, investment, and regional growth as a key part of BC’s return to health and prosperity,” says Doug Blair, President of RIAS Inc.

BC Salmon Farmers were designated an essential service in the early stages of the pandemic, a designation the sector takes seriously, and which has resulted in ongoing economic activity helping small business in rural Vancouver Island.

The report not only highlights how BC salmon farmers can contribute to BC’s healthy economic recovery, but also includes contributions to BC’s social development objectives, strengthening food security systems, and BC’s environmental objectives.

“The results of this report are very significant for the salmon farming community and for the province,” says John Paul Fraser, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, which sponsored the report.

“It means more jobs and higher economic benefits in BC which are especially needed now, as our province deals with unprecedented economic hardships.”

It also outlines immediate steps to address misinformation about the industry while boosting investor certainty, including a clear call to federal and provincial governments to establish an agreed-upon fact guide and to develop predictable public policy for the industry. With a certain future, BC’s salmon farmers are ready to invest in rural coastal communities, creating opportunity for generations to come.

“The BC salmon farming sector is ready to help lead BC’s post COVID-19 recovery, especially in rural coastal communities on Vancouver Island, but we need certainty first,” says Fraser.

Read the full report and summary report at https://ready.bcsalmonfarmers.ca/report/.