BC's Speech from the Throne, 2016
Speaking at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Fortieth Parliament of the Province of British Columbia, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant-Governor, delivered the Speech from the Throne on February 9th, 2016. Included in the speech were commendations for individual British Columbians and the province itself, as well as aims for the province's future.
The Lieutenant-Governor also made important mention of issues that directly impact the vitality of British Columbia's communities, such as job creation and infrastructure. This PSD Briefing outlines the contents of the BC Government's Speech from the Throne as they pertain to the municipal and wider public sectors.
Job creation and regulation
In 2015, 50,000 jobs were created across the province. Among the more robust industries is the technology sector, which employs 86,000 individuals province-wide. Within the health care sector, the government plans to reach a negotiated agreement with the nurses of British Columbia in the next several months.
Overall, the BC Government plans to promote flexibility as well as growth in reducing red tape. In 2015, 1,700 regulatory rules were eliminated. The province has reaffirmed its goal of a net zero increase in regulatory requirements to 2019, and currently more than 200 red tape-reducing projects have either begun or been completed.
The province currently has $7 billion dollars' worth of infrastructure projects in the works, which projects to increase the number of jobs in BC by 150,000 over the next 10 years. Of note is the investment by the government in Hydro BC, which will amount to $2.4 billion each year until 2026.
The housing market is also a focal issue for many BC municipalities, particularly for the Metro Vancouver area, and the Government of British Columbia has pledged to take action. First, the province promises to soften the pressure of the rise in the cost of living, while also engaging with municipalities to make housing more affordable. To do so, they aim to increase the housing supply as well as to give BC citizens the opportunity to enter the market. In addition, the government plans to regulate the hidden costs of buying a home, making the process as transparent as possible.
Natural resources & trade
The province reported that 2015 saw the highest sales total ever for food and beverage products ($3 billion) in BC. That number is projected to increase to $10 billion by 2020.
Globally, the BC government has pledged to move forward with the Trans Pacific Partnership. Due to the increase in trade with East Asia, the province will also establish a new trade office in the Philippines in 2016.
In forestry, the government will look to renew the expiring softwood lumber agreement with the United States. They will also launch a full investigation into the imposition of duties on four Canadian Paper mills by the US.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a primary focus of the BC government. Twenty projects are currently underway, and a total of 30 investment partners in the province have invested roughly $20 billion into the endeavor. The government has pledged to continue its campaign promise of contributing a percentage of LNG revenue towards a Prosperity Fund. This fund, according to Lt-Gov. Guichon, is meant "to ensure there is equity for future generations" and to invest in provincial services and infrastructure in the future.
While advocating for investment in energy, the government has pledged to tread carefully with respect to emissions. A Climate Leadership Plan is set for release in 2016 following further consultations with the public.
The Lieutenant-Governor's complete Speech from the Throne can be found here.