• Feb 20, 2024
  • Insights

British Columbia speech from the throne 

Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

On Tuesday, February 20, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Janet Austin delivered the speech from the throne to the legislative assembly in Victoria, officially getting the 2024 parliamentary session underway. The annual provincial budget is set to be tabled in the legislature on Thursday.  

With the 2024 provincial election slated for the fall, the B.C. government used the throne speech to lay out its priorities for the final legislative sprint before the summer break.  

Affordable housing and cost of living to be prioritized 

Tuesday’s throne speech outlined the objectives for Premier David Eby’s BC NDP government for the remainder of its mandate. Delivering more middle-class housing, helping to reduce costs for British Columbians, strengthening public health care services and building a cleaner economy were the themes.  

As indicated by the government last week, the throne speech and the government’s post-speech press release state the BC NDP expect to table and pass at least 20 new pieces of legislation, as well as the 2024 budget, to help meet the objectives set out in the throne speech. The legislation will broadly address the following issues: 

  • Delivering more homes for people by launching BC Builds and taking new action to protect renters from bad-faith evictions and help first-time homebuyers. Premier Eby was joined by Prime Minister Trudeau in Vancouver on Tuesday morning to announce the newest plans for BC Builds. 
  • Helping more people and small business with costs through new measures coming in Budget 2024, while tackling the root causes that make life more expensive.  
  • Strengthening public health care by continuing to attract more family doctors while investing new resources in cancer care and long-term care for seniors.  
  • Building an economy that works better for people by leveraging B.C.’s strength in natural resources, and training people for the good clean jobs of today and tomorrow.  
  • Protecting B.C. from climate emergencies with year-round wildfire-fighting resources and new actions to reduce pollution from industry.  
  • Keeping kids and communities safe by introducing new legislation to protect schools and kids from disruptive protests and to hold big social media companies accountable.  

Over the winter break, B.C. Premier David Eby made a number of announcements to address housing ahead of the throne speech. These initiatives, including low-cost financing and almost $1 billion in funding to support B.C. Builds, the first acquisition of the Rental Protection Fund and funding for the Women’s Transition Housing Fund, build on the provincial contributions under the bilateral agreement with the federal government under the National Housing Strategy to support housing at all levels, including temporary and transitional housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, First Nations housing, transit-oriented development and small-scale, multi-unit housing to help municipalities increase the supply of affordable housing in the province.  

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told reporters that the government expects to table legislation to tax property “flipping” by investors and speculators, originally announced in 2023, early in the new session.  

As the election writ period draws closer, the BC NDP are likely to stick to these themes on the campaign trail as they look to deliver a third consecutive election victory, and first under Premier Eby.  

Opposition parties also look to housing, affordability ahead of election 

Opposition B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon has also zeroed-in on housing as a key priority ahead of the fall election, saying that if elected, his party would introduce initiatives to help those looking to enter the housing market as first-time homeowners save for down payments. Falcon also committed to to eliminating the property transfer tax on homes sold for less than $1 million.  

For the B.C. Conservative Party, affordability must be the priority for the government in the throne speech and the budget. Party president Aisha Estey told reporters that B.C. Conservatives would implement new tax breaks to lower the cost of living in the province.  

The B.C. Green Party believes a multi-faceted strategy to address rising costs is the only way to reverse the housing crisis. House Leader and MLA for Saanich North Adam Olsen has said his party would develop a co-ordinated plan to address health care, transportation and education to help increase affordability.  

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy will table the 2024 provincial budget in the legislature on February 22.  

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