The speech from the throne of the B.C. legislature would leave most outsiders with the impression that the province has few issues to deal with during the spring sitting.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon read the speech on behalf of the provincial government on Tuesday, outlining the priorities for sitting MLAs over the next several weeks which includes a new rural advisory to look for economic opportunities and focus on the education system to fill a skilled labour shortage. In effect, it’s a ‘stand-pat’ speech that offers little in the way of new spending or initiatives.
As Nanaimo’s Opposition MLAs pointed out, Vancouver Island alone has half a dozen issues that government could scrutinize, from B.C. Ferries to the forestry industry.
While Premier Christy Clark and her Liberal government focus attention on resource extraction in B.C.’s north, families in Nanaimo struggle to make ends meet with rising costs of Medical Services Plan premiums, electricity rates and ferry fares, just to name a few.
As Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog rightly says, increases to these mandatory services is essentially a tax increase.
Nanaimo traditionally has a high poverty rate, especially among children. An end to the child support clawback for people on social assistance, which has been discussed at the provincial level, would have made a difference to this issue.
Clark and her team release the provincial budget on Tuesday (Feb. 17), which they claim will be balanced. A chance remains that some of these issues will be addressed at that time. Throne speeches always bring a lot of bluster, though, so when they’re silent on certain subjects, it speaks volumes.
The provincial government should use the next seven days to ensure its budget priorities are focused on the needs of average British Columbians.