De Jong to Permanently Relocate Forestry Ministry Operations including Chief Forester to Prince George

PRINCE GEORGE – Making government more accessible and accountable to the people it serves is the reason BC Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong announced today that a de Jong-­‐led government would significantly decentralize government services to regions across British Columbia. De Jong confirmed that permanently relocating the major operational branches of the forest and lands ministry, including the Office of the Chief Forester, to Prince George would be a first priority.

De Jong made the announcement today in Prince George. He said locating critical provincial regulators and operations closer to the people who work and live in those sectors will move government closer to the citizens and boost responsiveness.

“So much of what government does is organized around what’s best for government – that’s why so many provincial offices and agencies are concentrated in Victoria and Vancouver,” de Jong said. “It’s time we looked for ways to move government operations closer to the people and the economic sectors they are dealing with. Government for the people means government with the people.”

If elected, de Jong said he will undertake a detailed review to determine other regulators, agencies, and offices that makes sense to move closer to the people they directly impact.

“We can empower communities outside Victoria and Metro Vancouver by enhancing their role in the decision-­‐making process,” de Jong added. “Decentralization on the scale I envisage will strengthen the linkage between those making the decisions and those impacted by those decisions.”

Relocating offices and operations brings another advantage – affordability for people working in those offices, and a boost in economic activity in the communities.

“When you have a strong economy and balanced budgets you have access to new ways of doing things to better serve the people of the province,” de Jong added. “Localizing 2 government will help communities and improve how government does some of its critical work – and that will bring economic benefits.”

“The BC Lottery Corporation generates in excess of $1.3 billion for the people of B.C. The location of its headquarters in Kamloops proves you don’t need to be in Victoria or Vancouver to be successful,” says de Jong. “We are constantly told how the advent of technology is facilitating the decentralized work place – it’s time government caught up.”

The BC Liberal party will hold a leadership convention to announce the new leader on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.

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