Today's speech from the throne details the government's vision to build on the foundation that has been laid over the past two-and-a-half years and bring out the best in British Columbia, helping families and communities reach their full potential.
Bringing Out The Best In Our Economy
· B.C. leads the nation in job creation and unemployment is now below the national rate.
· Bills will be introduced to further eliminate unnecessary red tape.
· There will be changes to encourage employee investment and improve consumer protection.
· New legislation will modernize the regulatory requirements in agriculture, environmental management and the real estate and resource sectors.
· In addition to the $10.5 million already committed for the BSE Program and the Cull Program, a further $16.8 million will go to help farmers under the Whole Farm Trust.
· Land use plans will be completed for the Central Coast, North Coast, Sea-to-Sky, Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii, Morice and Lillooet areas.
Bringing Out The Best In Partnership with First Nations
· The government will build on the foundation that has been established. This includes three Agreements in Principle in the past year, 124 economic measures, and over 150 treaty-related measures and other agreements involving First Nations in resource management.
· New opportunities for energy revenue sharing arrangements with First Nations in the Treaty 8 areas will be introduced this year.
· The government will continue working with First Nations to develop new child protection strategies that effectively address the unique needs of First Nations children.
· Legislation will be introduced this year to create a new $15 million BC Rail First Nations Benefits Trust, supporting initiatives for the 25 First Nations along the BC Rail corridor.
Bringing Out The Best In Transportation and Northern Development
· The $1 billion BC Rail Investment Partnership with CN will create an economic boom in the North and Interior and enable the province to pay off BC Rail's $500 million debt, saving $30 million per year in interest costs.
· CN will contribute $15 million to help open up the Port of Prince Rupert. The province will invest a further $17.2 million in this project.
· Prince George will benefit from the addition of 600 new centre beam cars and 1,500 upgraded boxcars, and from the new non-stop Chicago express rail service.
· Prince George will be the headquarters of the $135 million Northern Development Initiative to be launched this year.
Bringing Out The Best In B.C.'s Forest Economy
· A market-based timber pricing system will be introduced on the Coast.
· Twenty per cent of the annual allowable cut will be reallocated to smaller operators, local communities, First Nations and others.
· New measures will be introduced to combat the mountain pine beetle.
· The government will act on the Filmon Fire Review recommendations.
Bringing Out The Best In Energy & Mining
· B.C. will encourage the government of Canada to complete its scientific review and join in responding to offshore oil and gas opportunities in a scientifically sound, environmentally safe and socially responsible manner.
· Fifty per cent of all new power produced for BC Hydro will be generated from clean, alternative energy sources.
· Legislation will be introduced to reduce unnecessary and redundant regulatory requirements in coal tenure administration by 29 per cent.
Bringing Out The Best In The Spirit of 2010
· A new Spirit of 2010 tourism strategy will be introduced this year to ensure every region can take full advantage of the Olympic opportunity.
· Government will co-host the Spirit of 2010 Business Summit, bringing together businesses, investors and community leaders from across the province.
· A "Picture B.C." initiative will be introduced to showcase British Columbians' images, words and artwork.
Bringing Out The Best In Student Achievement
· The budget for education will grow by $313 million over the next three years.
· New graduation requirements starting in September will raise our standards and provide more flexibility and choice for students.
· Early Learning and Child Care agreements with the federal government will inject more than $70 million into programs for B.C.'s youngsters over the next three years.
· The government will launch a major new initiative to address literacy, beginning with the creation of a Premier's Advisory Board on Literacy. It will also provide new funding for literacy initiatives, and double the annual contribution to the Adult Literacy cost-Shared Program, challenging the federal government to do the same.
Bringing Out The Best In Higher Education
· The province will add 25,000 new student spaces to B.C.'s colleges, universities and institutes by 2010.
· A comprehensive new strategy to increase access to advanced education will be outlined.
· Advanced Education's budget will be increased by $105 million by 2006-07.
Bringing Out The Best In Digital Technology
· The government will act to bridge the digital divide, by providing broadband access to 171 communities over the next two years, through the Provincial Learning Network.
Bringing Out The Best In Patient Care
· A new rural health travel assistance plan will be launched this year to help rural families who must travel to health centres for special care.
· Government will pursue new strategies to increase the supply of seniors' housing, options for independent living and expansion of home care services.
· The government will work with the federal government to establish a National Centre for Disease Control in British Columbia.
Bringing Out The Best In Sport, Music and Culture
· Over $30 million in one-time exceptional funding will be invested to support new initiatives to bring out the best in sport, music, arts, culture, literacy and volunteerism as the province builds toward the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics.
Bringing Out The Best In Social Responsibility
· The Premier will host a series of roundtables to engage B.C. families in discussions about their hopes and aspirations for the future, sharing their views on challenges and opportunities for both themselves and their communities.
Bringing Out The Best In The Spirit Of British Columbia
· The 161-member Citizens' Assembly is deliberating on how best to elect members to the Legislative Assembly. It is a ground-breaking initiative of which British Columbians are rightly proud, giving us an unprecedented opportunity to bring out the best in our parliamentary system.
The full text of the speech from the throne is online at http://www.legis.gov.bc.ca/37th5th/4-8-37-5.htm .