B.C.’s NDP government delivered its first throne speech in 16 years on Friday.
The speech reiterated many of the promises the party made during the election campaign, but a few pledges were absent.
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1) Election finance reform
The BC NDP reiterated a pledge to eliminate corporate and union donations in provincial elections. It also pledged to limit individual donations so that only B.C. residents can give money.
2) Fixed elections
The BC NDP has also pledged to fix provincial election dates starting in the fall of 2021, and then hold them every four years.
3) Electoral referendum
The government plans to hold a provincial referendum on proportional representation by November 2018.
4) Lobbying reform
The NDP government also wants to make it so that former lobbyists can’t benefit from public service. In the NDP’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with the BC Greens, the parties pledged to introduce a multi-year prohibition on lobbying for ex-senior public office holders.
The NDP have pledged to close fixed-term lease loopholes in an effort to stop “unfair rent increases.” They have also pledged to increase Residential Tenancy Branch supports for both renters and landlords. There was no mention of a $400 renters rebate that was mentioned during the provincial election.
6) Child care
The government has pledged more child care spaces, to train more early childhood educators (ECEs), though there were no details on a timeline for this. There was no mention, however, of the party’s $10 a day child care plan. It did, however, mention a universal child care program.
The NDP has promised a “comprehensive housing strategy” that would increase supply and examine ways to curb speculation. Details on this strategy are still to come.
The government has promised a legislated poverty reduction plan, but details on this have yet to be revealed.
The NDP government’s first budget will take the step toward restoring educational funding. The government has already announced that it is eliminating tuition fees for adult basic education and ESL, and that it is ending post-secondary tuition for children in government care.
The throne speech promised a “fair wages commission” that would be established with the goal of delivering a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
11) Transit for people with disabilities
The NDP government has pledged an annual bus pass for commuters with disabilities that will be available again in January 2018.
12) ICBC and BC Hydro
The NDP has pledged to “fix” issues at ICBC and BC Hydro. This comes amid news that the insurance provider is seeking a 6.4-per-cent increase for basic auto insurance from the B.C. Utilities Commission. The speech did not mention a previous NDP promise to freeze BC Hydro rates that was made during the election.
13) Health care
The NDP government has promised to reduce and then eliminate Medical Services Plan premiums. No word on a timeline for when this will happen.
14) Post-secondary debt
The government will consider ways to reduce post-secondary debt for students. No details were available on how this will be achieved.