BC Politics

Lower Poverty and Ticket Prices Too: Nine NDP Brags and Pledges

What BC’s government chose to highlight in Tuesday’s throne speech.

By Andrew MacLeod 13 Feb 2019 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at

Making life better for British Columbians, increasing affordability and restoring trust in the legislature itself were among the themes of Tuesday’s speech from the throne to open the legislature’s spring session.

“Government is making different choices to make life better, so that B.C.’s bright future and unlimited potential is shared with everyone, not just the few,” said the speech written in Premier John Horgan’s office and delivered by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin.

Given nearly 19 months after the NDP came to power with the support of three BC Green Party MLAs, the speech included reminders of what the government has done on a dozen files, including efforts to get ICBC’s finances on track, eliminate MSP premiums, review BC Hydro and increase the availability of affordable housing.

It mentioned improvements it’s made in health care, education job creation and mental health and addictions, as well as the CleanBC climate strategy and the progress on the LNG Canada project, noting “critically, the project fits within government’s CleanBC plan.”

While the speech generally described a stay-the-course approach for the mid-term government, a few highlights included:

Poverty plan. After a consultation process, it is ready to deliver the province’s first poverty reduction strategy “to give people the opportunities and supports they need to reach their full potential.”

Housing. There are 17,000 homes underway thanks to government housing initiatives. That would be roughly on pace to meet the 114,000 units the NDP promised would be built over a decade during the 2017 election.

“This year, government will take further steps to improve rental housing by addressing the recommendations of the Rental Housing Task Force,” the speech said. The task force’s final report, delivered in December, included 23 recommendations. The government previously moved to cap the amount that rents could rise, limiting increases to the rate of inflation.

Reconciliation. To move forward on reconciliation, “B.C will be the first province in Canada to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, legislation co-developed with the First Nations Leadership Council and other Indigenous organizations.”

Dirty money. It promised aggressive action on money laundering: “Your government will identify the structural causes of money laundering to hold accountable those who are responsible.”

Child care. “This year, government will set the foundation for the full implementation of B.C.’s affordable child-care program. A key element of this effort will be a collaborative process to develop new legislation to give universal access to quality, affordable child care the force of law.” In 2017, the NDP ran on delivering $10-a-day child care.

Phone bills. The government would like to make cellphone service cheaper: “This year, your government will take action to improve billing transparency, beginning with a consultation and legislative review. Your government will give consumers the tools they need to get the least expensive possible service and encourage the federal government to deliver more affordable cellphone options for people.”

Tickets. It also intends to act so that people buying resold event tickets aren’t gouged: “Government will introduce new rules for live ticket sales, including a ban on mass ticket-buying software, and more transparency for all companies selling tickets to live events.”

Food. A food security task force will make recommendations on “how B.C. can harness new technologies and innovation to produce more food, jobs and prosperity, while reducing waste.”

‘Trust.’ The speech also made reference to the management of the legislature. In November Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz were suspended with pay while the RCMP said it is investigating their actions. A January report from Speaker Darryl Plecas detailed concerns, including questionable spending.

“The strength of this legislature does not come from stone, slate, marble or granite,” Austin said. “It comes from a foundation of public trust. That trust was recently shaken.”

It said the government will be working to implement reforms that restore that trust.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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