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

Just Posted

Rob Kernachan editorial cartoon.
Editorial cartoonist focuses on Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is the feature of Rob Kernachan’s contribution this week.… Continue reading

The grads of 2021 at Chemainus Secondary School will be resilient based on their experiences through COVID. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Making the most of grad events

Class of 2021 will carry resilience with them throughout their years based on COVID experience

COVID-19 has made the 2020-21 school year at Chemainus Secondary School interesting and challenging for graduates. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduates

Here’s the young men and women who are embarking on life’s next journey

Girls just wanna have fun. From left: Danielle Dela Cruz, Melanie Cheng, Hanna Starkie, Camille Storteboom, Rebecca Rhode, Sian Diewert and Brianne Pamminger at the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Alana Starkie)
Prom night brings some semblance of normalcy for 2021 Chemainus grads

Being together at least provides class members with some comfort

Tom Millard served his community well for so many years with the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo submitted)
Millard dedicated himself to community service

Long-time Chemainus Fire Department member and chief remembered for his commitment

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read