The Speech from the Throne has outlined the B.C. government’s broad plans and priorities for 2016 and in the run-up to the next general election in spring 2017.
The speech touched on themes such as government economic and fiscal policy during turbulent economic times, steps to relieve the pressures of a high cost of living, and efforts to say “yes” to economic development initiatives while managing the environment. With an agenda that “Stands up for B.C.”, the speech hints at commitments that will more likely materialize fully in next week’s 2016/17 budget. These include infrastructure spending, steps to mitigate high housing prices, and increased funding for social services, especially child protection.
Throne Speech highlights include:
- Economic Development: The government says it will “stand up for B.C.” to protect jobs in the province’s key sectors while “getting to yes” on economic development projects. The province re-affirmed its commitment to its Five Conditions on heavy oil pipelines. Priorities for the coming year include work toward securing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and renewal of the softwood lumber agreement with the United States.
- Housing costs: The government will review home assigning practices (also known as shadow flipping), will bring in incentives to increase the housing supply, and will introduce steps to allow for better opportunities to enter the housing market. The government will also work with municipalities to reduce the hidden costs in home purchases, and to make those hidden costs clear and transparent to home buyers.
- LNG: The government acknowledged that the global economic downturn is limiting its ability to predict how many jobs or how much revenue the LNG industry could create in B.C. The commitment to a Prosperity Fund was restated as an endowment to future generations, financed through future LNG revenues.
- Climate change: The government will continue consulting on its climate action strategy before releasing a final Climate Leadership Plan later this year.