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December 7, 2015
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Federal Throne Speech sets ambitious agenda
Friday’s Throne Speech, titled “Making Real Change Happen,” promised a new tone for Parliament and sets an ambitious agenda of tax cuts for the middle class, and a new health-care deal with the provinces, read by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, government’s agenda was a confirmation of the Liberal’s election platform.

The address also promised to:

  • Fight climate change; and make strategic investments in clean technology.
  • Enhance the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and create a new Canada child-care benefit.
  • Commitment to increased transit, green and social infrastructure.
  • Renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship with Indigenous Peoples with commitments to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and to implement recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
To read the speech from the Throne in full click here.

Premier Christy Clark on Senate appointment process
The federal government announced a Senate appointment plan to pick non-partisan individuals to become new senators on Parliament Hill in a bid to restore public confidence in the scandal-plagued Senate, but the plan drew some criticism last week from BC Premier Christy Clark.
“B.C. will not participate in the process outlined to appoint senators. These changes do not address what’s been wrong with the Senate since the beginning. It has never been designed to represent British Columbians or our interests at the national level,” said Premier Clark in a statement.
B.C. gets only six senators in the 105-seat chamber, although it’s the third largest province with a population of about 4.7 million.

Province takes next step to ready for Syrian refugees
B.C. will be receiving 400 Syrian refugees by the end of the 2015 and a further 1,500 by the end of next February, the provincial government is taking a number of steps to prepare for the arrival, resettlement and integration of refugees in B.C.
Of the $1 million the province has pledged for its Refugee Readiness fund, it will spend $500,000 on five Refugee Response Teams. The teams will have representatives from the refugee service provider community: settlement organizations, private sponsors, churches, educators, health care providers and employers.
Teams are anticipated in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Cariboo, however locations are contingent on where refugees ultimately settle.
The remaining money will go to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. to do the following:
  • Develop an online hub to connect private sponsors, settlement workers, counselors, and other service providers throughout the province to the information they need to support refugees.
  • Track volunteer offers, in-kind donations and housing and employment leads.
  • Set up a range of supports for clinicians caring for traumatized refugees, including a new telephone consultation line and a trauma needs assessment tool.
  • Provide workshops and support to the Refugee Response Teams.