BCPB Home > 2009 Benchmark Report > Introduction

2009 Benchmarks: Introduction

Established in 2001, the BC Progress Board tracks changes in the economic performance and social wellbeing of British Columbia. The Board consists of up to 18 business executives and academic leaders from around the province. British Columbia has the natural and human capital to become a leader in Canada. Moreover, the province is well placed to become a global leader. The Board has two mandates:

  • Measure and benchmark British Columbia's performance over time, and relative to other jurisdictions, in order to determine if BC's competitiveness and quality of life are improving;
  • Advise the Premier on strategies, policies and actions that could enhance BC's economic and social wellbeing regardless of whether government, business or individual actions are required.
The BC Progress Board's benchmark work is the most comprehensive review available of the state of the province's economy, innovativeness, education, environment, health and societal performance. The Board has two main objectives:
  • Help make BC a leader in Canada in the economy, innovation and education;
  • Help make BC a leader in the environment, health and society.
For each objective, the Board has three core targets and 13 performance indicators. Under the "Economy, Innovation, and Education" objective, the core targets are: economic growth, standard of living, and jobs. Under the "Environment, Health and Society" objective, the core targets are: environmental quality, health outcomes, and social condition.

Historical and Recent Results

ranking 2007

BC's performance relative to the rest of the country has shown general improvement between the first annual benchmark report and this — the ninth — annual report. The Board's initial goal for the six core targets was to maintain first place in Canada in environmental quality and health outcomes, and to achieve a first or second-place rank in the other four core targets.

Since the Progress Board was established in 2001, BC has maintained its first-place rank in environmental quality and health outcomes. BC has maintained its third-place rank in personal income thanks to solid personal income gains. As well, BC has seen strong employment growth. The province earned a ninth-place rank for economic growth in 2008, down from seventh in 2007. Ranks on this indicator are highly variable, especially in recession years like 2008. The global economic outlook is improving but remains uncertain. Fortunately, BC is relatively well positioned to handle the challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities ahead. British Columbia continues to lag relative to other provinces in social condition in spite of absolute improvement on the most problematic performance indicators that make up this composite index: the crime rate, and the number of families and unattached individuals with income below the after-tax low income cut-off.

Reporting Framework

The BC Progress Board issues benchmark reports that compare BC to other jurisdictions, and, within BC, compare the province's major metropolitan areas to each other and to the non-metropolitan area of the province (Regional BC).

External Performance Review

The external performance review includes sections on "Economy, Innovation, and Education," and "Environment, Health and Society" and compares BC to Canada's other provinces, to other jurisdictions in North America, and to OECD countries. Six core targets and 26 performance indicators are used to assess the province's economic performance and social wellbeing.

Internal Performance Review

The internal performance review provides regional comparisons within BC. It has the same two categories as the external review: "Economy, Innovation, and Education" and "Environment, Health and Society." For the first category, the internal review tracks ten regional indicators, and for the second it tracks eight. The internal review compares the major metropolitan areas and Regional BC and provides detail on BC's development regions and health authorities.

Economy, Innovation and Education

Metro Vancouver, which is identical to the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) outperforms Regional BC on seven of ten regional Economy, Innovation and Education indicators. They are: employment income; housing starts; building permits; secondary school graduates; university completion; science employment; and, new business formation. Metro Vancouver and Regional BC are essentially tied on employment rate, and the economic dependency ratio. Regional BC has the edge in retail sales.

Environment, Health and Society

Metro Vancouver and Regional BC are more closely matched in the eight Environment, Health and Society indicators than in the Economy, Innovation and Education comparisons. Regional BC clearly outperforms Vancouver on low income cut-offs and Vancouver has the edge on life expectancy and crime but they are more or less tied for the other indicators. Even though there are differences, they are either small or the numbers are so low compared to those from ten years ago that the differences are not worth highlighting.