The B.C. government is promising to “ramp up investments” in child care and transportation projects to help the province recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, after a round of relief payments to all but the highest-earning B.C. families to begin rolling out by the end of the year.
“Already we can see signs of better days ahead, as science and research lead the way with new treatments and vaccines,” Lt. Gov. Janet Austin said Dec. 7, delivering the speech from the throne to open a brief session of the B.C. legislature. “Preparations are underway for when a vaccine is available. The focus will be distributing it to British Columbians quickly and safely, beginning with those most at risk.”
The speech listed the B.C. government’s measures to date since the pandemic took hold in B.C. early in 2020, including the expansion of senior home staff and infection control measures through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
“Your government will ramp up investments in transportation infrastructure, which will stimulate growth during the recovery period and benefit British Columbians through shorter commute times and greener transportation,” said the speech, written by the premier’s office to set out priorities for 2021. “Expanding child care and early learning is another strong economic development policy. By creating jobs and allowing more parents to go to work, it counts as strategic economic infrastructure as much as roads and highways.”
The speech confirms that the NDP majority government will put an estimated $1.5 billion in new borrowing to a vote to pay across-the-board relief of $1,000 for families earning up to $125,000 and $500 to individuals who make up to $62,000, with a “sliding scale” of payments up to $170,000 per family or $87,000 individual income.
A throne speech statement from Horgan adjusted the top family income for the benefit from $175,000 in the NDP’s fall election platform to $170,000, and promised further business aid.
“Government will also take significant steps to assist small- and medium-sized businesses in weathering the economic storm caused by COVID-19,” the statement said. “New tax maeasures will reward businesses for hiring, and help them grow and become more productive by making it easier for them to invest in equipment and machinery.”