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

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

New and expanding businesses abound around Castlegar

Fourteen vacant commercial spaces have been filled in recent months

Addressing the opioid crisis in Castlegar

Decriminalization is key to providing proper support for people who use drugs, a conference heard.

Castlegar shares draft 2018 budget

Property owners can expect to see a 3.5% property tax increase — about $39 for the typical home.

Localized flooding on Bloomer Creek

Castlegar’s Oglow subdivision experienced some flooding due to failure of a private culvert.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

Most Read