Throne Speech Delivered
Victoria, B.C. – Though much of it had already been leaked to the press, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon opened the first session of the 41st parliament of B.C. with the speech from the throne this afternoon.
It included some major policy reversals from the BC Liberals and seemed to borrow heavily from the NDP and Green parties. It included:
- A third referendum on electoral reform by October 2018.
- A ban on corporate, union, and third-party donations, including in-kind, to political parties.
- Strengthen lobbyist legislation and regulations.
- Commitment for a new engineering school in Prince George
- An immediate $1-billion investment over the next four years to create 60,000 new spaces.
- Cover an additional 150,000 children with full or partial child-care subsidies.
- Explore partnerships with school districts to co-locate new child-care spaces at elementary schools.
- A new poverty reduction plan with a focus on children.
- A $100 per month increase to social assistance rates, with a process to recommend future annual increases.
- Index annual disability allowance rate increase at CPI going forward.
- Basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 transitioning out of care.
- Increase legal aid funding by 25 per cent.
- A commitment to fully implement Grand Chief Ed John’s recommendations in the Report on Indigenous Child Welfare.
- Work to fully eliminate MSP.
- 500 more residential care beds to support seniors.
- End the referendum requirements for new transit revenue sources.
- Move forward with Site C
- Raise the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, starting in 2019, up to a total of $50 per tonne by 2022.
- 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.
- A Royal Commission on education – the first in 30 years and a review of the per-pupil funding formula to acknowledge the difficulties of declining enrolment.
- Consider moving the fixed election date from the spring to the fall.
- Fully fund adult basic education and ESL programs to help new British Columbians adapt and integrate.
For rural communities:
- Double the Rural Economic Dividend to help 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 brining an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020.
Acknowledging items in the speech were very different from what the governing Liberals promised during the provincial election campaign, Lt.-Gov Guichon remarked “your government has listened.”