Feb. 8, 1999
By Fax and Mail
Charles Perrin, Director
Strategic Services & External
Human Resources Development
15th Floor, 300 West Georgia
Vancouver BC V6B 6G3
Dear Mr. Perrin:
RE: P&A’s offer to HRDC
Thank you for our Jan.
28, 1999 meeting in the company of Mardy Duncan and Jim Hawkey. The
background to the meeting was our address to HRDC of issues we have
identified within HRDC (and provincially shared) policies and programs aimed
at assisting business and industry.
Our initiative is based on our ongoing analysis of the strategic issues
facing British Columbia and the Canadian economy and experience with HRDC
and provincially shared programs in the corporate sector, including
Community Futures, the Business Development Bank and the Province of BC. In
addition, a recently finalized strategic analysis for a BC municipality has
strengthened our analysis and increased our concern.
We appreciated the opportunity to discuss some of the issues in the
perspective of BC’s situation as well as in the wider perspective of the
Canadian economy and community at large.
We emphasize that we regard you, Mardy Duncan and Jim Hawkey as well versed
in the discussed issues. Any recapitulation of elementary knowledge and
discussion of social, socio-psychiatric and economic behavior or other
country’s structural challenges is merely intended to provide a basis for
We also recognize the difficulty to define P&A’s perspective, offer, and
approach in the context of the economy, international parallels, and current
HRDC and government programs in just two hours. Nevertheless, we hope that
the meeting and this and previous letters provides insight into P&A’s
outlook and approach to solving the issues.
The following provides a brief outline of the reasons we are addressing the
issues and offering our services to HRDC.
Community development, social satisfaction, quality of
life, and the tax base depends on and varies directly with the level of
sustainable economic production and the distribution of real income
and social satisfaction in the community.
Our economic wealth generating and wealth distribution
system depends on two interrelated fundamentals:
a competitive sustainable business
and industrial sector which combines our resources into economic production
- distributing wealth and securing the tax base through (better paid)
a government sector that provides
the service that the pricing mechanism and private sector fails to provide,
as well as those services which the community in good democratic order has
decided should be provided by government. (Not to say that government
service must always be excluded from the pricing mechanism.)
In the interrelationship
between business and government, business combines resources in pursuit of
profit and in order to satisfy its interest groups. The government sets the
framework for industry and the community at large.
The community must assume
that the government will analyze and detect issues in the pricing mechanism
and industrial sector and address them to industry - and intervene if
necessary - before the issues become acute, causing job losses,
socio-economic problems and social discontent.
For example, the problem in the forest sector was that industry failed to
identify the economic and market shifts and ecological issues. During the
good times, the system failed to encourage long-term investment, adding
value, and using fewer resources. During the bad times, it stimulated
industry to expect government assistance and bailouts.
It is reasonable to say that government did not provide the service the
pricing mechanism and private sector failed to provide.
The government failed to
analyze and detect the problems in the industry, including issues in the
government’s own policies. Both industry and government seems to have been
unaware of the real depth of the market, financial, organizational and
ecological issues facing the industry.
It is not realistic to
believe that industry will take an overall community responsibility for
these issues. Therefore, we need government to analyze and monitor shifts
in the economy and marketplace and to identify issues facing all sectors and
individual industries important to a local economy.
That includes issues such
as industry investment into consumer and market research, education and
training. Without continuing research, the community loses the ability to
profit from the increase in knowledge that is available. The community
depends on industry to invest in research of new ideas, to find new uses for
knowledge resources and technology, and to find new ways of doing things
that adds value and promotes sustainability. These issues are particularly
important to BC.
What level of government has the mandate and responsibility to analyze,
detect and address issues in industrial sectors on a national, provincial or
local level? Which level of government has the mandate to identify and
address issues in the regional and local economy – such as in Prince Rupert
- before the problems become acute.
Our municipal government has an administrative function that is limited to
infrastructure planning. It is significant that local governments have no
economic, social and ecological mandate and responsibility.
The powers of economic
development and responsibility to allocate resources to a sector of the
economy or a specific problem area are shared between the federal and
provincial governments, as our constitution states: government is committed
to … “ furthering economic development to reduce disparity in
HRDC has a unique mandate in the Canadian economy; allowing HRDC to
participate on all levels in the Canadian economy, and in the local
community economic development process, directly or in cooperation with the
Our analysis addresses the importance for the community that HRDC refine
policies and programs aimed at assisting business and industry.
The principal issues
The central issue in our
discussion, is the effect that the shift to a more open, knowledge and
technology-driven, global economy will continue to have on social
satisfaction and quality of life in BC. The resource and
manufacturing sector is no longer fuelling the economy and tax base with
lower-educated better-paid jobs.
As discussed, BC communities will increasingly need more federal assistance,
better coordination between all agencies in the assistance process, and an
ongoing refinement of programs in recognition of the global economic and
The gap between jobs
available and people with the skills to fill them will be the dominating
factor for the socio-economic standard in the future - not employment
statistics. Recognising the “bell curve” reality, the community will have
to concern itself with more than merely the development of well-educated
well-paid jobs. The quality of life for the well-educated and social
establishment will also depend on the economy’s ability to secure
lower-educated well-paid jobs.
HRDC has a major roll in
role of government institutions
development ultimately depends on economic production occurring in the local
community. Most agree that the economic production of a competitive and
sustainable industry that generates well-paid jobs is the best way of
generating and distributing wealth and securing social satisfaction.
Experience over the past fifty years shows that the alternate method of
distributing wealth via tax transfers and individual and corporate welfare
is not sustainable.
Therefore the question of
the government’s role and function in the market and pricing mechanism will
be an increasingly important issue.
The Government’s most
important function in a rapidly shifting knowledge-driven marketplace is to:
analyze and address the market, financial, organizational and environmental
issues, and facilitate co-operation before problems in the pricing mechanism
and private sector become acute; showing up in financial statements and job
Our analysis is that HRDC
has a key role to fill in identifying and addressing the strategic issues
facing the industrial sector and in facilitating solutions in order to
secure social satisfaction at the community level.
Further, the success and
cost effectiveness of decentralization of programs will depend on the
central organization providing the local organization with the support
necessary to solve issues in the local economy and marketplace. Further
that the central organization has the information necessary to support the
local organization before problems become acute.
We have identified a need
for HRDC to assist local organizations to develop better analysis, planning
and control/accountability tools.
The Need for Better
Strategic Audit and Analysis
Government programs will
have to change from the post and Cold War policies and reactive approach -
reacting to the ‘mill’ closing down, and focusing on carrying the
communities over short recessions. The community needs the government to
take a progressive approach where government identifies and addresses
strategic issues and discusses solutions with industry.
It will not be
sustainable in the future to allow issues such as in the BC forest sector to
remain unsolved for more than twenty years - and be allowed to escalate
into socio-economic and environmental adversity.
We will continue to offer
our experience and expertise to assist in refining HRDC’s methods and
systems involving assistance to industry and community development.
We would also be pleased
to discuss other areas where HRDC feels that P&A’s skills could be utilized
– such as in program analysis, specific business or community cases, in
strategic reviews of assistance, support, or co-ordination with other
Obviously, from the
outside we lack knowledge of HRDC’s concern and focus. Therefore, based on
issues we have previously identified, we have suggested some specific areas
where our skills may be applied.
We have already offered
an initial analysis of a ‘region’ (size and location to be determined by
HRDC). The purpose of the initial analysis being primarily to:
document the identified issues and
develop an information platform for long term improvement and development of
methods and systems for assistance to industry and community development
provide information that could be
utilized for short-term improvements while waiting for the long-term changes
and development to be implemented and take affect.
In our Jan. 28 meeting we
discussed an analysis of an assistance case to business
involving HRDC and other agencies. The purpose would be as in: a) and b)
Another alternative would
be to utilize our knowledge and ongoing analysis of the conditions and
current government programs to develop a discussion paper on the issues
facing community and business development in BC.
The purpose would be to
provide an information platform for discussion and further analysis. This
offers a smaller scale project that would allow HRDC to assess P&A’s
abilities while securing another perspective and information that would be
useful for future planning and program development.
With over twenty years in
experience in Strategic economic, market, and organizational, audit,
analysis, and implementation of solutions, we feel that P&A has a lot to
contribute to HRDC, Community Futures, or other related programs.
Again, thank you for the
meeting and opportunity for discussion in Vancouver. We would appreciate
hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
cc: Marty Duncan
BACK TO DEBATE
Okanagan May 2000
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