Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, has delivered the speech from the throne, outlining government’s plans to build a stronger B.C. for everyone, while continuing to support British Columbians through challenging times.
“From rebuilding after the fires and floods to getting through this difficult wave of COVID-19, we have shown we can accomplish anything by working together,” said Premier John Horgan. “At a time when similar challenges have increased polarization around the world, people here in B.C. have pulled together. As we begin a new session, our government will be there to support people every step of the way – just as we have from day one.”
The throne speech highlighted that B.C. has one of the highest vaccination rates in North America and the strongest economic recovery in Canada – with more people working today than when the pandemic began. Keeping people healthy and safe through the rest of the pandemic and building a people-centred recovery will continue to be top priorities for government.
In the year ahead, government will continue to improve health care, fight climate change and help communities adapt to extreme weather, make everyday life more affordable and ensure economic growth is sustainable and works for people.
Specific actions the government will take in the coming months to build a stronger B.C. for everyone include:
- Ensuring B.C. workers do not get left behind by 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 B.C. 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;
- Bringing more certainty and reliability to child care by moving responsibility to the Ministry of Education;
- Improving management of B.C.’s land and resources by creating a new ministry to better support goals of reconciliation, economic development and environmental protection.
More B.C. families will have access to affordable housing and child care as a result of measures that include doubling the number of $10-a-day spaces, cutting child care fees in half for many families, and increasing the supply homes for middle-class families.
These build on actions the government has taken over the last four years to bring down the cost of living for British Columbians, like eliminating MSP premiums and reducing ICBC rates by an average of almost $500 a year.
“After two of the most difficult years in our history, we know people are exhausted and families are feeling stretched,” Premier Horgan said. “That’s why our focus has been, and will continue to be, on investing to help make life better for people. By putting people first, we have laid the foundation to help B.C. come out of these challenging times stronger and more resilient than ever.”
The throne speech announced that a new economic plan and a budget would be introduced in the coming weeks. Additional investments will respond to the immediate effects of the pandemic and extreme weather and build on B.C.’s strengths to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
“Our government knows we can’t cut our way to a better future. Building a stronger B.C. is not about pulling back,” Premier Horgan said. “We have been through a lot together and no doubt there will be more challenges ahead. But if we look out for each other, we have shown we can overcome anything that gets thrown our way.”