Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon delivered the BC Liberal Government’s Speech from the Throne outlining the government’s priorities for the spring legislative session.
Two recurring themes were the need to retain the courage to “get to yes” and to “stand up for BC”, maintaining their focus on creating jobs and growing the economy. They also restated their commitment to balanced budgets and controlled government spending. The speech cited the experience of Alberta as one to be avoided, highlighting their failure to diversify their economy and control government spending. The speech described BC as an island of prosperity while Canada faces immense economic challenges.
Government continued to highlight the economic windfall that will come with the LNG export industry. Government cautioned that low global commodity prices will impact LNG timelines but re-committed to move forward saying “success is not for quitters.” Government linked its LNG ambitions to the global climate change agenda, saying BC can be a clean energy superpower while helping other economies transition from fossil fuels.
A key new theme was housing with Government committing to give British Columbians a better opportunity to enter the housing market and encourage more housing supply. Government will look into allegations of improper behaviour in the housing market and will work with municipalities to shed light on hidden costs built-in to home purchase prices.
Agriculture was also a focus of the speech with a commitment to promote Buy Local Food programs, expand financial support for the Agricultural Land Commission, and move forward on tax credits for farmers who donate food to non-profits.
In addition to growing the economy, Government outlined key social policy initiatives. Government committed to implement the Plecas report and its recommendations related to children in care and social workers. Regarding health care, Government committed to additional MRI scans, modernized community care and assisted living legislation, negotiated settlement with nurses and improved access and supports to mental health care.
On Tuesday, February 16 Finance Minister, Mike de Jong tabled the provincial budget. The BC Legislature will now sit Monday to Thursday until May 19 and is scheduled to return October 3.