August 25, 2009
Office of the Premier
SPEECH FOCUSES ON STRENGTHENING BRITISH COLUMBIA
VICTORIA – The 39th Parliament of British Columbia was launched today with a speech from the throne that emphasized steps the government will take to strengthen the economy to create jobs, improve and protect vital services and manage taxpayer dollars prudently to avoid burdening future generations with unaffordable debt.
“In May of this year we heard clearly from British Columbians that they wanted a stable government that would live within its means, improve and protect vital services, and lower costs on the economy so that we could invest in jobs and infrastructure,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “The impact of the global economic downturn has been much more significant than anyone could have predicted. It obliges us to redouble our efforts to get our economy on a firm footing so we can support critical services such as health care and education. The task ahead is difficult, but we must do what is right – not what is easy or politically expedient – to leave a better future for our children and grandchildren.
“Most economists are now predicting that British Columbia’s economic growth rate will be either first or second in Canada next year,” said Premier Campbell. “As in the early part of this decade, it is a smart focus on our economy that will lead us back to the successful position that only a year ago we took for granted.”
The throne speech highlighted a number of initiatives to strengthen B.C.’s economy, protect vital services and support families in every region of the province.
Opening the Pacific Gateway and Boosting B.C.’s Economy:
· The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) will lower business costs on productivity by almost $2 billion annually. Savings on inputs currently taxed by the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) will improve B.C. companies’ ability to re-invest in the province, expand their businesses, decrease bureaucracy and regulatory costs, increase productivity, raise wages and create more jobs.
· A new comprehensive Asia Pacific Gateway Authority will be pursued with the federal government.
· An Open Skies Summit at the new Vancouver Convention Centre will be held in September.
· A new Wood Innovation and Design Centre will be established in Prince George.
Prudent Fiscal Management and Protecting Services:
· The additional $1.6 billion in transition funding from the federal government for implementing the HST will help protect vital health and education services.
· The Province will introduce amendments requiring a balanced budget following four years of deficits, instead of two.
· Government will reduce discretionary spending and target resources where they are needed most – to help patients, students, children and families; and to create a new economic framework, new revenue and new jobs while protecting public services that are indispensable.
· The throne speech confirmed what was in the February Budget – that no new funding is available for public sector wage increases.
· Building on the review now underway of BC Ferries and TransLink, the Province will review all Health Authorities, Boards of Education and Crown corporations in the year ahead to improve service and lower costs.
· The date for the 2010 budget will be March 2 to accommodate the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
the New Relationship with First Nations:
· Government reiterated its commitment to the goal of reconciliation with First Nations.
· Government will pursue new treaties, as well as agreements on shared decision making and benefit sharing with First Nations.
Tackling Climate Change
and Protecting the Environment:
· Government reiterated its commitment to the Climate Action Plan and targets.
· Government will act to ensure B.C.’s fresh water remains a rich resource that meets economic, social and environmental needs for generations to come. British Columbians will be consulted on new statutory protections to further safeguard the environment from cosmetic chemical pesticides.
· A Species at Risk Task Force will be established to report out to the government with recommendations by June 2010. Following the example of B.C.’s climate initiative, it will be asked to suggest a new defining vision with an overarching measurable outcome that British Columbians can work together to achieve within the next decade.
· Green energy will be a cornerstone of British Columbia’s climate action plan. Electricity self-sufficiency and clean, renewable power generation will be integral to our effort to fight global warming.
· The BC Utilities Commission will receive specific direction to ensure the phase out of Burrard Thermal and to act on the BC Energy Plan and Climate Action Plan.
· A new Green Energy Advisory Task Force will be appointed to complement the work of the BCUC’s long-term transmission requirement review. That task force will be asked to recommend a blueprint for maximizing British Columbia’s clean power potential, including a principled, economically viable and environmentally sustainable export development policy.
· Government will act to outlaw the international export of British Columbia’s garbage and landfill waste.
More Support for Families:
· Government will work with its municipal partners to examine all government-imposed costs and legislative frameworks – from property assessment to subdivision regulations – to reduce both capital and operating costs for housing in B.C. and encourage affordable market housing.
· Government reiterated its commitment to neighbourhood learning centres and full-time, five-year-old kindergarten which will begin to be delivered in schools throughout British Columbia in September of 2010.
Legislation Expected to be Introduced in this
· Government will legislate a new Residents Bill of Rights to set out clear commitments to care and to the rights of residents living in residential care facilities.
· The Labour Mobility Act; Insurance Amendment Act; Strata Property Amendments Act; Wills, Estates and Succession Act; and Police Amendment Act will all be reintroduced.
· The Lobbyists Registration Act will be strengthened with new investigative and enforcement provisions.
· Government will introduce legislation to restrict cell phone use while driving a vehicle to create a safer driving and pedestrian environment for all.
· New legislation will deny income assistance to anyone in British Columbia who has an outstanding warrant from another province.
· Government will legislate labour mobility for all Canadians wanting to work in British Columbia and to advance open trade with Alberta under the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement.
· A new Wood First policy will be legislated to require all public buildings to use wood first as their default building material, inside and out.
· Government will act to strengthen payment protection for forestry contractors under the Woodworker Lien Act.
“The upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be the largest-ever single promotion of our future and what our province offers,” said Premier Campbell. “We will show a population that is cosmopolitan and open to the world, an economic climate that welcomes investment, and a workforce that is productive, innovative and creative. We can create new jobs as a global leader in clean energy and energy conservation, in green building technologies and affordable housing in our cities and towns, in wood innovation and design, in water conservation and management.”
Office of the Premier
For more information on government
services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the
Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.