B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Premier John Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future.

The speech is expected to set the government’s agenda following one last year that was dominated by COVID-19 recovery efforts after the NDP’s election win in October.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson is set to table the government’s first budget on April 20. Last December in a fiscal update she forecast a budget deficit nearing $14 billion.

Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said the government’s economic, social and health programs throughout the pandemic have been unfocused and the Opposition will demand initiatives with straightforward goals.

“We expect premier Horgan to lay out a plan that deals with the significant issues that British Columbians care about,” Bond said in an interview. “It starts with the response to COVID-19 and what that looks like moving forward.”

The Liberals want more support for small- and medium-sized businesses as opposed to complex and slow relief programs, she said.

“It’s not enough to have one-off programs being announced all over the province,” said Bond. “One of the themes that has emerged with this government is a lack of strategic planning.”

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the throne speech will focus on getting B.C. through and beyond the pandemic.

“We want to get the pandemic behind us,” he said. “We want to build back stronger. We want to invest in people. We want to strengthen communities. We want to make sure that we are able to help businesses grow and hire.”

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure, but the fight against the pandemic is paramount.

“Obviously critical is ensuring we get British Columbians vaccinated,” said Farnworth. “The next few months are going to be critical in that regard.”

Bond said the throne speech needs to present details about the government’s plans to create jobs and promote economic recovery in the short-term and after the pandemic.

“It is time for this government to lay out a plan that deals with some of the critical issues we are facing in B.C.,” Bond said.

Among the serious issues facing the province is the ongoing opioid overdose deaths, she said.

“We are in the middle of a crisis when it comes to mental health supports and an opioid crisis and despite a lot of talk we have seen little action that’s been effective on that front,” said Bond.

The B.C. Coroners Services reported a record number of illicit opioid overdose deaths in 2020, when 1,716 people died.

Adam Olsen, one of two B.C. Greens in the legislature, said the NDP has yet to offer a clear agenda since the fall election, when the party said it needed a majority to offer steady government during the pandemic.

“Most governments after they get elected have got a 100-day plan, very clearly articulating what their next steps and first steps are for the government,” he said. “That’s really been missing since November.”

Olsen said he recognizes the pandemic has been all-encompassing for the government and responses are required, but there are other issues facing the province, including the Site C dam.

“We’ve got one of the largest projects of any government in the history of this province and in this country, the Site C dam, that is very clearly troubled,” said Olsen.

Last month, Horgan said the hydroelectric dam faced “significant challenges” due to geotechnical issues and COVID-19 construction delays that would increase the estimated cost of the project to $16 billion and delay completion by one year to 2025.

The province is also facing environmental concerns about increased greenhouse gas emissions connected to the massive $40 billion LNG Canada project in northern B.C. and the Greens want the government to halt logging in an old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island.

“We’ve got a government saying they’re addressing all those things, but there’s no coherent plan,” said Olsen. “When you don’t have that coherent plan you can look at, it’s very difficult to evaluate the success.”

Olsen said the government hasn’t yet been able to present its vision for the future.

“I hope that they use this throne speech to lay that vision out for British Columbians, more than just launching a program in response to something, fixing it on the fly and then claiming success.”

READ MORE: Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC NDPBC politicsCoronavirusJohn Horgan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

A rolled-over semi along Highway 95. The RCMP have responded to nine collisions in the last month. (Brain Duchovnay photo)
Golden/Field RCMP recap last two months

The RCMP responded to 463 calls to service over the last two months

Details will be made available in the next few days. (File photo)
UPDATED: Community vaccine program to open in Golden

The clinic will be held from Saturday, May 8 until Sunday, May 16.

The higher elevation melt is getting underway as rivers such as Mark Creek in Kimberley are running faster. Paul Rodgers file
Snow packs down just below normal in East and West Kootenay

The West Kootenay in particular had below normal precipitation in April

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Hanoi 36 owner Michael Vu hopes to open Weekends Restaurant & Lounge this summer in the former Chicken Direct location on Alexander Street. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Business: Salmon Arm restaurateur working for the Weekends

Hanoi 36 owner Michael Vu to open new downtown izakaya-inspired restaurant

Kelowna RCMP are investigating a robbery that happened over the weekend.	(Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
RCMP searching for suspect after armed robbery at Kelowna gas station

Police were unable to locate a man after he allegedly robbed a business on Highway 33 W

(Black Press Media file)
Mounties investigate downtown Kelowna group assault

Police said the incident happened at the Queensway bus loop on May 8

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

The real estate boom across the Okanagan has not felt a negative impact from the coronavirus impact on our national economy. (Contributed)
Booming year ahead, says Kootenay Association of Realtors

Strong real estate sales continue throughout Kootenays

(Westside Road Community Road Reports/Facebook)
Fire near West Kelowna resort now under control

According to BC Wildfire Service, the fire is nearly out

Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail ownership partners were awarded a grant for $250,000 to support construction of a pilot section of trail. (Shuswap Trail Alliance photo)
Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail pilot project to start this year

Grant funding received for section of trail in Enderby, Splatsin territory

Most Read