Focus on Affordability in Throne Speech

The Province of British Columbia opened a new session of parliament by highlighting commitments to address affordability through its housing strategy and new investments in childcare. The Honourable Judith Guichon read the Speech from the Throne yesterday.

Commitments by the Government of interest to local government include the following:

Housing Strategy

In addition to the recently announced measures to set taxation policy for short-term and vacation rentals, the Government will:

  • Stabilize B.C.’s out-of-control real estate and rental market by addressing demand.
  • Introduce legislation to crack down on tax fraud, tax evasion and money laundering in B.C.’s real estate market.
  • Begin to make the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history, including social housing, student housing, seniors housing, Indigenous housing and affordable rentals for middle-income families.
  • Enable local governments to plan for affordable rental housing by zoning areas of their communities for that purpose.
  • Work with local governments to plan for and build housing near transit corridors.
  • Introduce stronger protections for renters and owners of manufactured homes, and protections for renters facing eviction due to renovation or demolition.
  • Help B.C.’s public colleges, institutes and universities build new student housing.
  • Support low-income renters by enhancing Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters grants and Rental Assistance Program grants for families, to address the gaps that have grown between these vital supports and the true costs of housing.
  • Starting this year, begin making the largest investment in retrofits and renovations of social housing in B.C. in more than 20 years. These upgrades will preserve much-needed housing stock, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce home-heating bills for the tens of thousands of people who live in social housing.

Childcare

  • Work with providers, advocates, communities and parents to accelerate the conversion of unlicensed spaces to licensed, regulated childcare.
  • Introduce new legislation to give parents vital information about unlawful or problem providers of unlicensed childcare.  
  • Increase training of early childhood educators.

Public Safety

  • Set out the rules for retail sale of cannabis, establish places of use, limits for possession and personal cultivation, and set penalties for drug-impaired driving.
  • Launch a public education campaign to ensure that the public knows the rules for using cannabis before the law comes into force.
  • Make new investments in transition housing for women and children fleeing violence. 

Infrastructure

  • Replace the Patullo Bridge.
  • Work with the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation to expand rapid transit.

Poverty Strategy

  • This year, the Government will deliver B.C.’s first-ever Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Workers & Procurement

  • Follow through on the Fair Wages Commission’s path to a $15 an hour, with full implementation by June 2021. B.C. will begin with an immediate increase in June 2018, followed by predictable increases over time.  
  • Review the Province’s Labour Code, to support fair laws for workers and business.
  • Update its procurement policies to give B.C. businesses a chance to compete for, and win, government contracts.

Diverse Economy

  • The Province will continue to seek a fair deal for softwood lumber.
  • This spring, launch the Emerging Economy Task Force, which will develop made-in-B.C. solutions, and look at how government can encourage innovative and sustainable industries to drive economic growth.
  • Starting this year, create 2,900 new tech-related spaces at colleges and universities throughout B.C., including the first full software engineering program in the Interior, and the first full engineering degree in Northern B.C.  

Reconciliation

  • This year, begin developing a cross-ministry framework to meet our commitments to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Tsilhqot’in decision.

Environment

  • Develop a new climate action plan in the coming months.
  • This spring, table terms of reference and engage industry, Indigenous Peoples, and communities in the coming months to renew the process for environmental assessment.
  • Government will consult with industry, local government, the public and First Nations on new protections that would improve the ability to prepare for, and respond to, bitumen spills.

The full text of the Throne Speech is available on the Province of B.C. website.

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