February 14, 2018 10:04 pm
Updated: February 15, 2018 5:33 am

BC NDP’s $400 yearly renters’ grant will come in next four years, premier pledges

Premier John Horgan sat down with Global's Richard Zussman on to answer viewers' questions on Facebook Live.

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Premier John Horgan has confirmed that his government will implement a $400 renters’ grant before the end of his four-year term.

This came after the promise was noticeably absent from the NDP’s Speech from the Throne on Tuesday.

Horgan said his government cannot accomplish the goal this year because last summer’s wildfires and financial problems at ICBC have taken a bigger chunk out of the provincial budget than expected.

But some relief will come for renters in next week’s provincial budget, with the grant promised before 2021.

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“We are going to focus on the people who need the break on renting right away and meet our commitment through the course of our government,” said Horgan.

“We fully expect a four-year mandate and during that cycle we are going to have a renters’ rebate in place as we have committed to.”

The comments came as part of a wide-ranging Facebook Live interview conducted on the Global BC Facebook page on Wednesday.

Horgan took questions from Global BC viewers on various topics for 20 minutes.

Trade war

One of the most pressing issues was the ongoing trade dispute between Alberta and B.C.

Horgan told British Columbians they should buy more B.C. wine, instead of an international bottle, to help the industry in the short term.

He was also asked about whether he was breaking the rules by consulting with British Columbians on restricting the flow of bitumen through the province and whether that dispute was hurting his relationship with the federal government.

READ MORE: B.C. urges wine drinkers to buy local amid Alberta boycott

“Our provincial jurisdiction certainly allows us to talk to our citizens, the people of B.C. on how we can protect the economy and the environment,” said Horgan.

“I have a very positive relationship with the prime minister and this is clearly an issue that has gone stratospheric because of the response of the Government of Alberta. It was never my intention to be provocative.

“We disagree with this key issue with Alberta and we are dealing with it in court as we should. I believe a trade war is not in the best interest of Alberta or B.C. and I do not want to participate.”

Child care funding announcement cancelled over ‘scheduling error’

The relationship between B.C. and the federal government also came up in connection to child care funding.

The provincial government acknowledged Wednesday that there was supposed to be a joint press conference last Friday to announce $153 million in funding for child care, but it was cancelled abruptly.

Horgan said his understanding was that it was a delay and that the press conference will still take place.

READ MORE: Decision on ride-hailing delayed, BC NDP hires expert to review options

“To my knowledge it is a scheduling error and I don’t think it is anything more than that,” Horgan said.

Global BC Facebook users also wanted to know about ride sharing, asking when Uber was coming.

Horgan said consultation was underway, but did not reiterate a previous commitment that B.C. would have ride sharing companies by the end of 2018.

“It is critically important that people understand that there is an existing industry that is feeding families and paying rent and paying mortgages and to have that undercut by having a new entrant that doesn’t have regulatory requirements wouldn’t be fair,” Horgan said.

Daylight savings time on Horgan’s radar

The final Facebook user question had Horgan laughing.

He was asked whether he would rid the province of the time change and scrap daylight saving time.

The premier joked that he received more than 10,000 emails the last time he asked for public input on the issue.

But even though B.C. is considering a change, it isn’t coming soon.

READ MORE: Horgan says decision on ending Daylight Saving Time in B.C. will come ‘when it’s appropriate’

“We need to do a lot more consultation than just having people respond to an appeal to send me an email,” Horgan said.

“I have a lot of people say to me the next election hinges on what you do with daylight savings. I am not sure that is the case.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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