12/20/2011 02:09 EST | Updated 02/19/2012 05:12 EST

B.C.'s economy not stagnant, not stellar

A group of B.C. business executives and academic leaders says that the province has made economic progress in the last decade, but hasn't pulled ahead of the rest of Canada.

The B.C. Progress Board, a panel established by Gordon Campbell ten years ago to measure economic performance, said in its 11th and final annual report that B.C. has dropped one rank from fourth to fifth in the country in its overall economic measures, and from third to fourth in terms of personal income.

The progress board said life in B.C. has improved since 2000, when the Liberals took over from the NDP and then-Premier Gordon Campbell set a target of moving B.C.'s economy to the top of the country.

But economic and social indicators also improved across the rest of Canada at the same pace, which prevented B.C. from pulling ahead.

"British Columbia's relative ranks have been generally slow to change but that does not mean that our province's absolute economic and social performance has been poor or stagnant," the board said.

"Improvements in British Columbia do not yield rank improvements if other provinces have similar success."

B.C. holds up

Economist Helmut Pastrick, an advisor to the B.C. Progress Board, said exports drive economic growth and other provincial economies have surged forward on exports of oil, potash, natural gas, and products arising from a strong manufacturing sector.

"We've held up, but we've just been sliding lower. It's a problem, or a challenge rather, that is in some ways beyond our control," Pastrick said.

He said the B.C. government's efforts to expand the mining sector would improve the economy.

Pastrick said that it has been more than 20 years since B.C. has had one of Canada's top provincial economies.