This afternoon, BC’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Janet Austen, opened the 3rd Session of the 42nd Parliament of British Columbia with the Speech from the Throne.
It noted that a new economic plan and a provincial budget would be coming soon. We expect the new economic vision to be unveiled next week by the Hon. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. The provincial budget will be tabled by the Hon. Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, on February 22.
The majority of the speech focussed on initiatives currently underway in the province to make BC stronger, and make life more affordable. Highlighted efforts included:
- Tying minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation;
- Protecting people buying homes in a volatile market by introducing a cooling-off period on home purchases;
- Helping prepare people for the jobs of the future with a generational commitment to develop the talent BC needs over the next 10 years to close the skills gap;
- Moving forward on Reconciliation by working to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act through an action plan drafted in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples;
- Recognizing British Columbians’ shared history by taking a major step towards establishing the first Chinese Canadian Museum in Canada and modernizing the Royal BC Museum; and
- Improving management of BC’s land and resources by creating a new ministry to better support goals of reconciliation, economic development and environmental protection.
In addition to the summary of current activities, there was a hint of what might be included in the upcoming economic vision. The Speech briefly noted BC’s current economic strengths in mining, life sciences and technology. The new vision was described as “grow(ing) the economy with purpose” with the goal of having economic growth that is inclusive and sustainable by creating the “high-skill, low-carbon economy of tomorrow”. It noted that forecasted labour shortages and skill gaps will need to be addressed, and called it both a challenge and an opportunity. It noted a new workforce readiness plan will be released later this year.
The preview of the February 22 budget noted that “we can’t cut our way to a better future”, and mentioned the need to invest in people, childcare, and responding to the immediate and ongoing effects of the pandemic and extreme weather. Investment in high-speed internet connectivity was also highlighted, alongside fighting climate change and protecting communities from future climate-related disasters.
To read the Throne Speech, please visit: https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/42nd-parliament/3rd-session/throne-speech