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Things have changed a lot since the early days of European settlement. With 13% of the Canadian population, BC is Canada’s third biggest province, after Ontario and Quebec. It produces about 12% of the country’s total GDP. Vancouver’s population has passed the two million mark, making it one of only three metropolitan areas in the country with a population in excess of one million (although Calgary and Edmonton are fast approaching that mark). The city is an important financial and industrial centre, and with its location on the west coast of the country, it’s also a transportation hub.
The composition of BC’s population has changed a lot. It’s no longer mainly comprised of young men, as it was a hundred years ago. The percentage of males and females living in BC has been roughly equal since the 1960s. The population is also older: less than 40% of British Columbians are currently under the age of thirty, and one in four are fifty-five or older.
British Columbia’s cultural mosaic is also shifting. In recent years, immigration, especially from Asia, has been a major source of population growth, and the Vancouver area, along with other parts of the province, is becoming more diverse.
BC’s economy is less dependent on natural resources than it used to be
As the face of the province’s population and its cities has changed, so too has the provincial economy. A variety of new types of goods and services are being made available to meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural population. Technological and cultural changes have also had a big effect, as have changes in the way companies do business.
BC’s economy has been maturing into a more diverse, less resource-dependent structure. We’re no longer “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the rest of the country or indeed, for the world. Primary goods production is giving way to a greater emphasis on value-added manufacturing as well as other types of goods and services production.
The role of resource industries is declining. They currently employ about 9% of British Columbia’s workforce.
Forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture are still important, especially in communities where they are big employers, but they are no longer the dominant force in BC’s economy. Since the mid-1990s, there have been fewer people working in these industries than in other types of goods production.
At present, only nine percent of BC workers have jobs in resource harvesting and extracting industries such as agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining. That’s down from about 13% in 1990. Employment in other types of goods production has picked up in recent years after declining during the 1990s, and accounts for about 12% of all the jobs in the province