Premier John Horgan Deputy Premier Carole James look on before the speech from the throne in the legislative assembly in Victoria last September. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

NDP target housing, child care in return to B.C. legislature

John Horgan’s government will set out agenda for latest legislative session in Throne Speech

Premier John Horgan’s New Democrats are returning to British Columbia’s legislature ready to highlight plans for housing and child-care reforms promised during last year’s election campaign.

Horgan said his minority government will not waver from its focus on affordable housing and child-care programs despite the heated dispute with Alberta and the federal government over the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

The NDP will set out its agenda for the latest legislative session with a throne speech on Tuesday, followed by the provincial budget on Feb. 20.

“As we look at the throne speech, our focus has been and will continue to be on affordability for British Columbians,” Horgan said. “The throne speech will focus on child care. It will focus on housing. It will focus on a range of issues that British Columbians have told us are of paramount importance to them.”

Finance Minister Carole James projected late last year a reduced budget surplus of $190 million for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but forecast economic growth of 2.9 per cent.

Tuesday will also mark Andrew Wilkinson’s first appearance in the legislature as head of the B.C. Liberals. The former cabinet minister was elected party leader on Feb. 4.

The current standings in the legislature are: 41 New Democrats, 41 Liberals, three Greens, one Independent and one vacant seat.

A byelection will be held Wednesday to fill a seat in Kelowna West, a riding vacated by former Liberal premier Christy Clark who resigned from politics last summer.

Horgan has previously said the government’s housing plans include moves to dampen speculation in B.C.’s real estate market and to increase supply of family homes for the rental and purchase markets. He has ruled out a ban on foreign buyers of B.C. real estate but said the government is reviewing the 15-per-cent foreign buyers tax introduced by the Liberals.

James said last week that housing will be a major focus of her budget.

“As we’ve talked about previously, we’ll be coming forward with a comprehensive housing plan and you’ll see that as part of the budget,” she said at the announcement of an agreement with Airbnb to collect provincial sales tax revenue. James said the cash collected from short-term rentals will help fund housing initiatives.

The finance minister acknowledged the projected $16 million in annual revenue is not a huge sum, but said “every penny makes a difference.”

The New Democrats promised during last year’s election campaign to deliver 114,000 housing units over the next decade.

The NDP also campaigned on promises of universal $10-a-day child care and a $400 rent subsidy, but those pledges were not directly mentioned in the government’s throne speech last September.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Kelowna social housing project revised

BC Housing tries to mitigate neighbouring concerns

Woodsdale road expected to be busy with opening of rail trail

The district will pursue grants to improve the road as walking traffic will increase

Trial for gangland slaying of Jonathan Bacon takes a turn

Charges for three men charged in the 2011 murder of B.C. gangster Jonathan Bacon have changed

Robot caretakers could be in your future

Interior Health CEO says AI will revolutionalize medical care

Kelowna walk sheds light on blood cancer darkness

The Light The Night Walk takes Saturday, April 21, from Waterfront Park

Students get to train like a firefighter for a day

Students from School District 23 test their skills at the Kelowna Fire Department

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

Unions set for national strike against CP Rail

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

B.C. court relies on Facebook to track down missing defendant

A court in Princeton, B.C. relied on Facebook to track down a B.C. missing his court date

Cops corral pig on the loose on Vancouver Island

Police “put the grab” on pig before it can cross the highway on Vancouver Island

Accused in B.C. school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

Decision will put hold on upcoming trial for Gabriel Klein

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Most Read