State of the North economic report highlights regional and industry trends

Tuesday January 9, 2017 – For Immediate Release

A new report provides a snapshot view of the state of the economy for the entire central and northern B.C. region. The 2017 State of the North economic report has been produced thanks to a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust and MNP, and is intended to provide community and business leaders with comprehensive sector-specific and regional data that will help shed light on opportunities and inform investment decisions.

The State of the North is designed with an easy-to-read format that includes supporting editorial context around each data set. Until now, region-wide economic data for Northern B.C. has been difficult to find and published in different locations at different times, making it challenging for decision-makers to use data to inform policy making and investment decisions. The State of the North report includes traditional economic indicator information, overviews of core economic sectors such as forestry, agriculture, mining and energy and regional profiles for the Northwest, Northeast, North Central and Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet areas.

The State of the North report has been designed to be a tool that communities, businesses and not-profit organizations can use as they develop and deploy strategies to create jobs, generate new wealth and advance northern communities. The State of the North report is an impartial third-party report with data collection and interpretation provided by MNP. The report follows a similar model to the State of the Island report published annually by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance.

Highlights from the State of the North report include:

  • Although the short-term outlook for the regional economy remains uncertain, economic conditions have largely stabilized following the decline in commodity prices in 2014 that resulted in shutdowns and project delays
  • More recent improvements in global commodity prices are supporting increased investment in traditional sectors, notably mining and oil and gas
  • Employment levels remain stable, yet the unemployment rate in the region is higher than the BC average
  • While building permits and housing starts have decreased in recent years, the forecast is for near-term stabilization
  • While the number of business formations has declined below the region’s three-year average, the number of business bankruptcies has remained consistent suggesting that economic conditions have stabilized. The scale of businesses in Northern B.C. remains relatively small, with approximately 75% of business having fewer than 10 employees, and 87% having fewer than 20 employees

The report is available in digital format here:



Evan Saugstad, board chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust

As the North’s economic development organization, it is important that we understand the data behind the decisions that are affecting the communities we serve. The State of the North report provides us with the economic context we need to better inform our own decisions, as well as those of our communities, businesses and non-profits, so that together we can build a stronger north.

Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust

The data is clear that the decline in commodity prices in 2014 had a significant impact on the regional economy. The good news is that the data also shows that economic conditions in the region have stabilized more recently, and major project activity across the region has created opportunities for new investment.

Susan Mowbray, senior economist, MNP

The North is very large and geographically diverse, which has a significant influence on economic opportunities. Rather than approaching it as a single entity it is best viewed as a collection of individual regions that are both economically distinct and inter-related. The State of the North report was designed to reflect this and provide meaningful data to support local and regional decision-making.


About Northern Development Initiative Trust

Northern Development has a passion for growing the economy of central and northern British Columbia. Communities, First Nations and businesses of the north are leaders in creating jobs, new revenues and improving the quality of life in the region, and the Trust is dedicated to supporting their growth. The Trust combines funding with smart thinking and since 2005 has found more than 2,800 ways to say “yes” to projects that help the region thrive.

About MNP

MNP is a leading national accounting, tax and business consulting firm in Canada. With four locations in central and northern B.C. and more than 60 locations across the country, MNP combines the expertise and resources of a national firm with an on-the-ground understanding of our local communities and market conditions. As your partner in business, MNP’s professionals provide clear, straight forward business advice from a local perspective to help you succeed.


Kim Hayhurst
Director of Marketing and Communications
Northern Development Initiative Trust

Susan Mowbray
Senior Economist