British Columbia

British Columbia Flag

The Province of British Columbia is located in Western Canada, it borders with the Yukon and Northwest Territories to the North, Alberta to the East and the U.S. states of Montana, Idaho and Washington to the south. The Pacific Ocean coastline to the west is the only part of Canada on the Pacific Ocean and is home to Vancouver Island.

With an area of 944,735 square kilometers; it is Canada's third largest Province in area and population (4,162,535). More than half of the population lives in the south western corner of the Province. It is home to the fantastic scenery of the many Provincial and National Parks including Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier National Parks.

Most of British Columbia is in Pacific Mountain time which is Greenwich meantime (GMT)-8 hours. Daylight saving is in effect from April to October making it GMT -9 hours.

The Province has many different landscapes including beautiful beaches, immense lakes and rivers, mountains and even a desert area. British Columbia is also home to some of Canada's wettest and driest areas.

The climate varies greatly from one area to the next, but generally the coastal area of British Columbia tends to be the mildest with cool and wet winters, the summers are warmer but the area is still prone to precipitation. The interior has cold winters with a lot of snow and dry hot summers. All these factors combine to create fantastic sports and Recreational Opportunities that will keep all the family busy!

The City of Vancouver lies in the southwestern corner of British Columbia and as Canada's third largest city dominates as the population centre of the Province. The Provincial capital is Victoria, a much smaller city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

There are several other cities of a fair size - Kamloops, Kelowna, Revelstoke, Vernon and Prince George being the largest.

As with all the Provinces, Education, Healthcare, Social Assistance Benefits, and Driver Licensing are all managed by the Provincial Government of British Columbia . The Provincial regulators for qualification transfer can be found in our "Jobsearch" pages. One extremely important responsibility of the Provincial Government is to administer the Employment Standards which include your rights (maternity, minimum wage etc.) and responsibilites as an employee in BC. It is imperative that you understand these before you start work.

The liquor laws, as with all of Canada, are very strict in the Province. The legal drinking age is 19 years and licensed establishments will ask for I.D. if someone looks under the age of 25 years. Drinking is not permitted in a public place unless it has been specially approved. Liquor in a moving vehicle must be sealed and not accessible to anyone in that vehicle.

Apart from the Provincial Income Tax British Columbia has two main taxes, firstly the GST (Goods & Services Taxes) this is currently at 7% and is applied to most goods and services sold in Canada. Secondly, PST (Social Services Tax - Provincial) this is currently at 7.5% and is applied to merchandise that is bought or leased in B.C. There are some exemptions to PST; these include all food items for human consumption, clothing and footwear for children under 15 years of age and medications. Information on and links to TAX information reproduced with permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 2004.

Also, there is an environmental tax which is charged to tires and lead acid batteries bought in the province. Hotel rooms are subject to taxation charged at between 8 - 10% depending on the location.

Be aware that most prices are advertised without any taxes, these are normally added on at the point of payment and can cause confusion if you are not expecting it!

The main industries of B.C are Forestry, Fishing,Agriculture, Mining, Tourism and Manufacturing. After several years in recession, the British Columbia economy is now recovering. The forestry industry has received a massive boost after a lengthy dispute with the USA over lumber import duties imposed by the US on Canadian wood is drawing closer to settlement. The world free trade organisation has ruled in Canada's favour and it looks likely that the US will have to repay the Billions of dollars in illegal duties already collected and allow the free trade to resume.This enables the Province to claim one of North America's most competitive Business Climates and has tremendous economic opportunities existing throughout the Province.

Another major boost for BC and the Vancouver/Whistler area's is the awarding of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. . Already projects are beginning to improve the infrastructure and there are plans to build a two lane highway linking Vancouver and Whistler Mountain Resort.

British Columbia has a very colourful past from the days of the First Nations ruling the land, western settlement and the struggle for independence. The Library and Archives Canada Website has an excellent section on the history of British Columbia during and since Confederation (1871).