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BC to spend 'lots' advertising jobs plan, says minister

The British Columbia government is preparing to spend "lots" of money to advertise Premier Christy Clark's jobs strategy, Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell said today.

New Democratic Party Leader Adrian Dix says the fact there's money for an ad campaign at a time when many areas of government are starved for funding shows the government's priorities.

The bulk of the campaign will be international, but also with some advertising within B.C., said Bell.

"The local stuff is really focused on engaging with British Columbians, saying, 'Here's the jobs strategy,' bring forward your ideas, your projects, your concepts of things you think that we should be doing to help support your local community," he said.

Some ads will also highlight areas such as welding where there are already good job opportunities being created, he said.

Clark released the jobs plan in September, styling herself as the province's number one salesman during a week of announcements.

"The real focus of the advertising campaign won't be in B.C., it will be abroad," said Bell, who returned this week from a trade mission to China. "It's really intended to attract investment internationally into new projects that can add value for British Columbians."

Most of the advertising will be done in Asia, but some in Europe as well, he said. The campaign is planned for this winter.

"We're still working through the actual budget figures and that's because we've really never marketed internationally at the level we will be this time," Bell said. "We want to make sure the buys are done appropriately and they target the right markets. So we don't have a budget number, haven't taken the submission forward yet."

The spending will be at least in the millions and when asked if it would be in the tens of millions, Bell said, "We'll see."

"It will be lots," he said. "There's no point in being the best kept secret in the world if you're trying to market and create jobs and value." The province has a great product to sell and needs to market it effectively, he said.

It's strange that the Liberals are saying they've been keeping B.C. a secret after 10 years of office and hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, said Dix.

"This has from the beginning been a communications exercise not a jobs exercise, and now we have the proof it's been a communications exercise not a jobs exercise," he said.

"I think Ms. Clark and Mr. Bell, with respect, are underestimating the people of B.C.," he said. "The people of B.C. want real action on employment and the economy. They don't want another extended advertising photo op from the premier or the minister."

The government has money for an ad campaign while it under funds the environmental assessment process, services for people with developmental disabilities and public safety, Dix said.

"It's a question of priorities," he said. "If the premier wants to do an advertising program about what, about herself, and her initiative, than there's money available and it's in the millions of dollars. People have to ask themselves if that's the kind of change they want."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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