David Eby is now officially British Columbia’s premier-designate after he was acclaimed as leader of the BC NDP on Friday morning. Eby takes on the role from Premier John Horgan, who has served as leader since 2014 and premier of B.C. since 2017.
The B.C. NDP leadership announcement was moved up to today from the previously planned December date due to the disqualification of Eby’s only prospective opponent, Anjali Appadurai, from the race. This process is separate from Eby’s official swearing-in as premier, which is expected to occur in early November. Timelines for that process are to be announced in the coming days.
A cabinet shuffle will also take place, along with the announcement of senior ministerial staff changes in the coming weeks. A transition during a government term likely means a number of senior staff will remain in place until after the next election. Additionally, with such a significant number of cabinet and caucus members supporting Eby’s leadership bid, cabinet composition will be a complex process.
David Eby outlined his plan for the first 100 days of his tenure at a press conference on Friday morning, where he was joined by members of the government caucus. The plan included commitments to work in partnership with First Nations, cities, non-profits and stakeholders to:
- Significantly expand available and affordable housing
- Create safer communities
- Improve access to healthcare
- Redirect fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy
- Accelerating action on old growth protection
Eby also reaffirmed his intent to not to hold an election until the fixed election date of October 19, 2024.
The pending 2023/24 provincial budget will be one of two for a new premier and cabinet as they build the trust of public to deliver on the last two years of the governing majority mandate. David Eby indicated during the race that he was considering moving the B.C. Budget release to April 2023 from the standard February date, however this may adjust with the earlier transition process. While B.C. is projecting a budget surplus, this week federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland warned her cabinet colleagues that budget tightening was underway.
Eby is taking over at a time when multiple crises are facing governments across Canada and the world. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care systems is being equally felt in B.C. as the fall respiratory season approaches. In addition, with climate emergencies like wildfires and the ongoing rebuilding from the November 2021 floods, emergency management remains a high priority. The growing impact of the cost of living and inflation increases is also exacerbating the affordability crisis. These are serious challenges for any government, making it important for Eby to present a roadmap this morning after the focus on the leadership race.
In the weeks ahead, Premier-designate Eby will begin to be briefed by ministries prior to the swearing in. With the sitting in the legislature underway until November 24, the government and current cabinet will continue their operations and legislative priorities.