Today’s speech from the throne is an important moment in history – it reflects both the priorities British Columbians articulated in the recent election, and the ability to invest in programs and services that British Columbians depend on, thanks to years of sound fiscal management and building Canada’s leading economy.
“British Columbians spoke loud and clear – they’re looking for a better balance between economic, social, and environmental priorities,” said Premier Christy Clark. “Together, we have built the most solid economic foundation in Canada – and with that, an opportunity to take better care of each other, and invest in the services we all need.”
Delivered in the legislature by Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, the speech will be debated before members vote in what is expected to be a test of confidence of the recently re-elected government.
“The election revealed a gap in understanding between urban and rural British Columbia,” said Premier Clark. “We have to bridge that gap because we all succeed when we thrive together, regardless of where we live in this province, we are all British Columbians.”
The speech from the throne outlines a bold vision, one that reflects the priorities British Columbians articulated in May: a balance between economic growth and job creation, investments in social programs, and environmental action. It outlines initiatives that will make a positive difference for British Columbia families.
Reforming our Institutions
- A comprehensive ban on corporate, union, and third party donations, including in-kind, to political parties.
- Impose a maximum donation limit for individuals to political parties.
- A referendum on electoral reform.
- Strengthen lobbyist legislation and regulations.
Child care and Early Childhood Education
- An immediate $1-billion investment over the next four years – the largest in B.C.’s history – to create 60,000 new spaces, in addition to the 13,000 already committed.
- Cover an additional 150,000 children with full or partial child-care subsidies.
- Increase the number of early childhood educators.
- Explore partnerships with school districts to co-locate new child-care spaces at elementary schools.
Fairer, Healthier Society
- A new provincewide Poverty Reduction Strategy, with a particular focus on children.
- A $100/month increase to social-assistance rates, with a process to recommend future annual increases.
- Index annual Disability Assistance rate increases at CPI going forward.
- A plan to expand and build on the proven success of the Single Parent Employment Initiative .
- Basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 transitioning out of care.
- A commitment to fully implement Grand Chief Ed John’s recommendations in the Report on Indigenous Child Welfare.
- Increase legal aid funding by 25%, ensuring families can better access and navigate our legal system.
- Increase the number of RCMP officers dedicated to drug enforcement by 30%.
- Create a new Minister of State for Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery.
- Build a new Centre for Mental Health and Addictions in Surrey.
- Work to accelerate immediate access to MRIs, hip and knee operations.
- Increase access to family doctors by training 112 more general practitioners, bringing the total to 400.
- 500 more residential care beds to support our seniors.
- Ensure clear, measurable daily care-hour standards are in place, monitored and enforced.
- Double the Home Renovation Tax Credit and create a new Respite Tax Credit to help families who care for their ageing loved ones.
- Work to fully eliminate MSP for B.C. families.
- Establish a Royal Commission on Education to ensure the next generation of students and educators both have the resources, training and tools they need.
- Increase accessibility requirements on new construction and in the design of public spaces.
- Increase the minimum number of suites in multi-unit residential buildings designed with basic accessibility features.
Communities and Transit
- Immediate action to expand public transit in Metro Vancouver, including the Broadway corridor and Surrey LRT.
- End the referendum requirement for new transit revenue sources.
- Work with our neighbours in Washington State on high-speed rail between Vancouver and Seattle.
- Work to build light rail on southern Vancouver Island and a passenger ferry connection between Vancouver and Nanaimo.
- Conduct feasibility studies to connect Lower Mainland and North Shore communities by transit and light rail.
- Convene an all-party committee for extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders on ride sharing.
- Eliminate tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, work with TransLink to eliminate tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge and expedite the replacement of the Patullo Bridge.
- Fully fund adult basic education and ESL programs to help new British Columbians adapt and integrate.
- Double BC Arts Council funding to build capacity in order to be a leader in the new economy.
- Work with local governments and the private sector to increase supply, particularly along transit lines and corridors while supporting municipalities to eliminate backlogs and speed up construction.
- Build 50,000 new units over 10 years as part of a new Rent-to-Own program for the middle class.
- Protect renters’ rights by prohibiting landlords from skirting rent-control protections and ensuring tenants are respected when landlords make improvements to their buildings.
- Host a Housing Summit to be convened in fall 2017 with all levels of government and stakeholders. Real estate speculation will be one of the challenges put before participants.
- Double the Rural Economic Dividend to ensure small communities see the benefits of the wealth they create, and are able to diversify their economies.
- Work to open eight new mines by 2022, and invest $18 million to improve mine permitting, oversight, compliance and enforcement.
- Ensure food security and protection of agricultural land by doubling the Grow Local program and bringing an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020.
Environment and Innovation
- Move forward with Site C to transition our economy away from carbon and help reach an ambitious emissions-free target for all new non-commercial vehicles in Metro Vancouver by 2035.
- Raise the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, starting in 2019, up to a total of $50 per tonne by 2022.
- For all future carbon tax increases, the PST will be reduced by a corresponding amount.
- $50 million expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout B.C.
- $50 million more for BC Parks and double the number of conservation officers.