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

Driver charged in two-vehicle crash on highway north of Ladysmith

Passenger in Volkswagen Jetta transported to hospital with minor injuries

Duncan family says care home switched mom’s cat with robot cat

Staff alleged to have said they were taking cat for bath, then replaced her with robotic stuffed toy

Construction set to begin on Nanaimo airport terminal expansion

First phase of construction project to begin in March or April

NDP details plan on ending pension theft at Ladysmith town hall

MP Scott Duvall discusses private member’s bill with mid-Island residents

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

B.C. to refer Alberta crude restriction to court

John Horgan hopes to defuse pipeline-wine war with Rachel Notley

Tofino Bus will cover Victoria–Nanaimo route after Greyhound announces cut

Although its name says ‘Tofino’, this bus company serves all of Vancouver Island

Northern B.C. short 121 registered nurses: report

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Barnful of ducks die in early morning blaze

The cause of the fire is unknown

B.C. speculation tax applies to out-of-province homeowners

Albertans with Okanagan, Island properties hit, Kootenays could come later

It’s quietly business as usual for the E&N

Waiting game continues in quest for direction on service ceased since 2011

Three new judges appointed to B.C. Supreme Court

Two spots filled in Vancouver, one in New Westminster

Most Read