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

Giesbrecht pleads not guilty in judge-only murder trial

Burns Lake resident Albert Giesbrecht has pleaded not guilty to the charge… Continue reading

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Houston youth turns himself in after arrest warrant issued for failing to appear in court

The youth is expected to plead guilty or not guilty in January

Village bids to bring in new immigrant entrepreneurs

Burns Lake is stepping up to try and bring new Canadian entrepreneurial… Continue reading

Bylaw change might allow cannabis harvesting in village

Burns Lake residents will soon be able to voice their thoughts on… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read