Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Throne Speech points to Housing, Child Care priorities for Horgan government

Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon delivered the Speech from the Throne
on Tuesday from the Legislature in Victoria

(photo from BC Gov't)

All the pomp and ceremony of a Legislature Session opening was on display in Victoria on Tuesday, as Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon took her place inside the Legislature Chamber on Tuesday afternoon and presented the NDP government's blue print for the upcoming legislative session.

As the Lt. Governor outlined through her forty five minute address, Premier John Horgan's program will put a strong focus on two areas of note, the province's housing issues and the need to improve child care in the province.

The Speech from the Throne opened with a commitment from the NDP government, working with the Green Caucus, to provide  a government that will fix the problems and help people to reach their full potential.

As the Lieutenant Governor relayed through the speech, the government indicated that it has heard the priorities of the public and will look to make more affordable for British Columbians as well as to provide for better public services, such as quality health care and a world class education system to set up their children for success.

The focus for the government this session will be to share the economic prosperity that BC enjoys with its residents, moving in a new direction, with new investments in people and new opportunities for the future.

Frozen BC Hydro rates for the year and more attention towards issues at ICBC were also highlighted as part of the address.

Housing was the dominant theme however, with the government providing a review of some of its steps to this point to address the housing issues in the province, promising as well to deliver new ideas to address the challenges that British Columbians face.

Part of that will be to reign in the nature of speculation in the province's real estate sector, noting that those who profit from the real estate market should also contribute to housing solutions.

When it comes to affordable housing, mention was made of ongoing projects in Terrace and Kamloops that will provide for modular housing units with the province looking to expand on that concept to other communities.

Renovations and retrofits of existing social housing was also highlighted as a key element for the government's housing strategy for this session.

When it comes to Child Care, Ms. Guichon outlined the Horgan government's plan to deliver safe, affordable child care as the Standard that the provincial government will be looking to deliver for residents of British Columbia, with increases for licensed spaces the main focus for the delivery of their expansion plans.

Education and training for child care professionals will also be part of the provincial government's approach to improving child care options for parents in the province.

The government also outlined that this session will see the introduction of their Poverty Reduction strategy, that program had its start last year with a string of consultation sessions held across the province.

The path towards increases to the provinces minimum wage plans was outlined, as were their plans to ensure that workers' rights are protected with a plan to review the province's labour code to support fair laws and better protections for workers when it comes to safety issues.

Post secondary education and Industrial and resource development all featured in the address, with a significant focus on the forestry sector which the NDP government intends to address attention towards.

Rural and remote communities in  British Columbia also received some attention in the Speech, with the government promising to put more attention towards rural issues than previous government's have done.

Towards that goal, the NDP government stated that it will renew its commitment to rural BC and will strive to improve conditions of high unemployment, offering the same opportunities to rural BC as those found in larger southern communities.

Part of their approach to improving those conditions in rural British Columbia comes through joint initiatives with the Federal government, with the Speech from the Throne making mention as one example of the recent Sub Sea Fibre project, a portion of which has been awarded to CityWest out of Prince Rupert.

That project with see the Prince Rupert owned communication company install a fibre link backbone to Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, with the service also providing for redundancy for service into Prince Rupert and the Northwest.

Indigenous and Reconciliation issues will also be a main feature of the session ahead, with the NDP government looking to provide for more involvement and partnership with Indigenous communities across BC.

Health Care and Seniors Services make for another area of expanded spending to come, with new hospitals and care facilities among some of the projects that the province will look to deliver on.

The same theme was reviewed when it comes to education, with the NDP government restating its intentions to accelerate its replacement plans for the province's schools and to improve seismic conditions for many of the existing schools in B.C.

Reviews are also planned to examine funding levels for Northern and rural school districts, to protect education in those communities and to  better support students with special needs.

Concerns over the impact of any bitumen spills in British Columbia waters provided for the final moments from the Speech from the Throne, with the government promising to take measures to protect the coast and inland waterways, with plans to consult with industry, local government, the public and First Nations to determine the path forward.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice had a front row seat to the entrance of
Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to the Legislature to
deliver the Speech from the Thtrone

Premier John Horgan and Lt. Governor Judith Guichon taking part
in Tuesday's Speech from the Throne

You can review the full Speech from the Throne below.

The talking points that the Government put forward following the address to the Legislature can be reviewed here.

The Speech for the most part is the ceremonial introduction for the government's intentions for the session, the real blue print and cost forecast for the many promises that make for the province's plans will come with the provincial budget.

Finance Minister Carole James, who has been hosting consultation sessions across the province over the last six months, is putting the final touches towards that document which will be introduced to the Legislature on Tuesday, February 20th.

A look at some of the media review of Tuesday's speech from the Legislature can be found below:

B.C. Throne Speech promises action on housing speculation, money for childcare
B.C. throne speech promises action on housing and child care
Child care and housing top of mind in B.C. government's throne speech
NDP's diluted promise likely to test public's patience
B.C. throne speech promises historic spending on housing and child care
Middle class still waiting on Horgan's big promises
B.C. government throne speech puts focus on housing, child care, affordability
Throne Speech leaves B.C. housing, childcare advocates awaiting details
B.C. premier not backing away from $10/day childcare, despite its throne speech absence
B.C. government promises 'historic investments' in child care, housing
Victoria promises anti-speculation measures in upcoming B.C. Budget
Throne Speech promises action on Housing, Child Care

For more items related to the Legislature see our archive page here.

A wider overview of politics in British Columbia is available from our Political portal D'Arcy McGee

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