On Feb. 6th, B.C. Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin opened the 4th Session of the 42nd Parliament of British Columbia. The traditional Speech from the Throne, the first for Premier David Eby’s government, focused on the key priorities he has highlighted thus far in his mandate – housing, affordability, public safety, and health care – and added fighting climate change and creating a clean economy.
The Speech started by outlining the uncertain times B.C. is facing, and how they are linked to international forces such as inflation and the pandemic, and noted the BC NDP were making progress on critical files and were necessarily derailed by their careful management of it. It references the record surplus this year, notes it is not likely to happen again, and hinted at a plan to spend the surplus “to work for people”. The Speech also noted the global economy is expected to slow down, and committed to maintaining government services and spending levels regardless. It noted that Budget 2023 (to be tabled on February 28) would include record spending.
While the Speech was a bit longer than average, it was largely a summary of actions already undertaken. New commitments were limited to: new pay transparency legislation; a new Emergency and Disaster Management Act; new laws requiring electrical vehicle charging stations in condos buildings; major new investments in housing and transportation; a refreshed housing strategy; increased investments in cancer care; and, a commitment to release the previously promised Future Ready skills training plan this spring.
It ended with a summary of reasons for British Columbians to be optimistic, noting Vancouver’s tech sector is growing at the highest rate in North America, that mining is booming, and B.C.’s life sciences and agritech sectors are thriving. It also noted the hosting of the Grey Cup, the Invictus Games, and the FIFA Men’s World Cup, and the opening this summer of the Chinese Canadian Museum as points of pride.
For their part, Official Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon has noted this Throne Speech, “marks the 6th year that the NDP has called health care, housing and crime a priority”, and “at some point government has to be held accountable for the results”. He said he intends to follow-up last week’s announcement of a $1B addictions treatment plan with other “big bold policy ideas” in the months to come.
Click here to read the speech.