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VICTORIA – The second session of the 38th parliament was launched today with a speech from the throne that calls for major initiatives to transform health, education and other services so they are sustainable and available for future generations.
“In just over four short years, British Columbia has been transformed from a province that lagged behind the rest of Canada to a province that leads Canada,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “But in times of rapid global change, we must continue to lead in health, education and economic activity. Our goal is to ensure that British Columbia is recognized as a global powerhouse of innovation, inspiration and wealth creation.”
Premier Campbell said that British Columbia will initiate a provincewide discussion on how to sustain and update the Canada Health Act.
“After four decades of public health care, supported by more than $1.5 trillion dollars of public money, the principles of the Canada Health Act – that the health system be universal, accessible, comprehensive, portable and publicly administered – remain largely undefined,” said Campbell. “We need to update the Canada Health Act to make it stronger and consistent with its original vision and intent to preserve public health care for all Canadians.”
The throne speech includes key initiatives to address the long-term sustainability of the public health-care system, including:
· Define and enshrine the five principles of the Canada Health Act, plus a sixth – the principle of sustainability – in provincial law before the end of this government’s mandate.
· Launch a provincewide conversation on health reform to improve and protect the public health-care system for the long term.
· Create a new Foundation for Health Care Innovation and Renewal to examine successful health models now working around the world.
Other highlights of today’s throne speech include:
· A commitment by the Premier and Minister of Education to visit every school district in B.C. and meet with educators, parents and students to seek ideas for positive change in education.
· Establish a new provincial “virtual” school to provide a learning option accessible from schools and home, and to provide free online tutoring to help secondary school students complete their studies.
· Establish the BC Hub technology strategy to integrate research, commercialization, and capital expansion in the province’s resource industries, agriculture industry and manufacturing economy.
· Launch a new B.C. Foundation for Natural Resources and Engineering Research to support advanced training, research and development, technology transfer, and commercialization in natural resources, engineering and applied sciences.
· Create a new digital media centre at Great Northern Way through a partnership with UBC, SFU, BCIT, the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and the private sector that will build on the global recognition of B.C.’s new media enterprises and expertise.
· Continue pushing the federal government for tough new minimum sentences under the Criminal Code for drug traffickers, as well as for immediate extradition of foreign traffickers.
· Implement a new housing strategy aimed at helping those most in need more quickly and effectively and giving individuals greater choice and new flexibility.
“We must transform our education system to harness the power of new knowledge and creativity and ensure that our students are ready for a rapidly changing world,” said Campbell. “We must also build on the transformational force of Canada’s Pacific gateway by maximizing the opportunity that we have been handed by being at the crossroads between North America and the Asia-Pacific.”
The full text of today’s speech from the throne is available on the Legislative Assembly website at http://www.legis.gov.bc.ca/38th2nd/4-8-38-2.htm.
Office of the Premier
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