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The Best Place on Earth

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2010PREM0024-000143

Feb. 9, 2010

Office of the Premier

 

 

THRONE SPEECH FOCUSES ON BRITISH COLUMBIA’S FUTURE

 

VICTORIA – The second session of the 39th Parliament of British Columbia was launched today with a speech from the throne that emphasized the steps government will take to propel British Columbia’s Olympic momentum to create jobs, improve the environment and support families with children.

 

“In the year ahead we will build on our Olympic momentum with action that will reward the generations that follow,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “We must ask how we can best lead change for our grandchildren’s advantage. New support for families with children is at the centre of our economic and social agenda. We will initiate new supports for families with children that will increase productivity, enhance competitiveness and give parents new choices. Government will take steps to expand opportunities for three- and four-year-old play schools and renew and revitalize education. New measures will encourage healthy lifestyles and secure, affordable health care.”

 

“A new budget will set the foundation for the province we want in 2030, with a far-seeing agenda that advances this government’s Five Great Goals,” said Premier Campbell. “Our government’s economic mission is clear: We must foster job creation with faster approvals, lower costs, open trade and labour mobility. Productivity and competitiveness are the keys to growing people’s paycheques and re-asserting our role as Canada’s job-creation leader.”

 

            As balancing the budget is both a financial and social imperative, government will look for new ways to meet the needs of citizens within the substantial spending increases already provided to critical government services including health and education. The throne speech highlights a number of initiatives to strengthen B.C.’s economy and provide more support for British Columbia families:

 

New Partnerships In Progress:

·         New revenue-sharing opportunities, new reconciliation agreements and new treaties create social and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people that include them in the promise of future prosperity. The Yale Final Agreement is complete and ready for community ratification. Other treaties are on the cusp and nearing reality.

·         British Columbia will join with Washington State in officially naming the area covered by the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound ecosystem the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea will not change existing names but will serve to designate the body of inland salt waters stretching from Campbell River and Desolation Sound to the southern reaches of Puget Sound.

·         The Aboriginal name of the Queen Charlotte Islands – Haida Gwaii – will be restored and once again used in all government documentation.

·         A new partnership with Montana will sustain the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses. It will identify permissible land uses and establish new collaborative approaches to trans-boundary issues. Mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction will not be permitted in British Columbia’s Flathead Valley.

·         Working with the federal government and other provinces and territories, British Columbia will pursue amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to create a unified federal-provincial review process that does away with redundancy and unnecessary costs, while encouraging investment and building jobs. This includes efforts to conclude equivalency agreements with Ottawa to ensure environmental reviews are cost effective, timely and thorough, as well as developing a “One Project, One Process” approach which will create a single framework that is timely, diligent and science-based.

·         A new Investment Process Review will be launched to simplify and expedite approval processes across government. Local governments will be included in this endeavour as government looks at all impediments to reasonable investment, including zoning, licensing and permitting requirements.

·         A joint committee on municipal property tax reform will identify specific steps to make property taxes more conducive to investment and fair as B.C. works to move to secure existing jobs and encourage new ones while assuring municipal services are fairly provided for all.

·         Government will take a fresh look at B.C.’s regulatory regimes, including the BC Utilities Commission, the BC Ferry Commission, the TransLink Commission and others.

·         With California, Washington and Oregon, the Province will commit to a common vision for sustainable prosperity and sign new agreements to work together on innovation, economic development, ocean conservation and climate-change adaptation through the Pacific Coast Collaborative. 

·         The New West Partnership with Alberta and Saskatchewan will build on the success of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement to foster free trade, investment and labour mobility, including new unified and mutually beneficial purchasing, procurement and licensing opportunities. The Province will continue efforts to remove internal trade barriers with other provinces and territories and will continue to fight for the Government of Canada’s adoption of  Open Skies policy that will add almost $800 million to B.C’s economy alone.

·         The Province will build on its Olympic advantage, including through dozens of events over the next two weeks to engage more than 9,000 top-level business leaders, potential investors and dignitaries from around the world.

 

Opening Up Canada’s Pacific Gateway:

·         The government will establish a new campus for the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, near the Centre for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way Campus. It will showcase B.C. wood, natural building materials and the best in environmental design.

·         A new Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George will amplify B.C.’s expertise and global reputation as a leader in wood construction, engineered wood products and design.

·         New budget measures will make the International Financial Centre more attractive to international investment and head offices.

·         Government will establish a National Centre on Contemporary Asia in partnership with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Government of Canada.

·         BC Rail will be brought into government and wound down as a Crown corporation.

·         New accountability and transparency will be brought to BC Ferries as it continues improving services with new ferries, terminals and amenities.

·         The government will encourage the new high-speed rail link between Vancouver and Seattle.

·         The success of the new Canada Line has reinforced government’s commitment to invest record amounts in public transit, fix TransLink and get on with the Evergreen Line.

·         The new film tax credit program will make B.C. more attractive as a world presence in digital media and film.

 

Improving the Economy and the Environment with Clean Energy:

·         As clean energy is a cornerstone of our Climate Action Plan, government will build on the contributions of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force and launch a comprehensive strategy to put B.C. at the forefront of clean energy development.

·         Government will optimize existing generation facilities and report on the Site C review this spring.

·         A new Clean Energy Act will encourage new investments in independent power production while strengthening BC Hydro. It will provide for fair, predictable, clean power calls and feature simplified procurement protocols and new measures to encourage investment and the jobs that flow with it.

·         Government will seek major transmission upgrades with utilities in California and elsewhere.

·         New transmission infrastructure will link Northeastern B.C. to the integrated grid, provide clean power to communities in the Peace River and Northern Rockies regions and to the energy industry. This will open new capacity for clean power exports to Alberta, Saskatchewan and south of the border.

·         A new receiving license will give bioenergy producers new certainty of fiber supply, while a new stand-as-a-whole pricing system will encourage utilization of logging residues and low-grade material that was previously burned or left on the forest floor.

·         New investment partnerships in infrastructure that encourage and enable clean modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and liquid natural gas, will be pursued.

·         New conservation measures, smart meters and in-home displays will help maximize energy savings for people. New smart-grid investments and net metering will provide more choices and opportunities to reduce everyone’s energy costs, reduce energy waste and encourage more productive electricity use.

·         New transmission investments will open up the Highway 37 corridor to new mines and clean power.

 

Adding Supports For B.C. Families With Children:

·         A new Family with Children Property Tax Deferral Option will be provided to all B.C. families with children under the age of 18. Those families will be given the right to defer their property taxes under a new property tax deferral program similar to the one already available to seniors and those facing financial hardship. 

·         Government will work with municipalities to dramatically reduce housing costs for young families and to provide increased opportunity for homes they can afford in existing neighbourhoods.

·         A new $180-million integrated case management information technology system will deliver better front-line services and supports to women, children, income assistance recipients and those most vulnerable.

·         A new Extended Family Program will modernize and improve upon the Child in the Home of a Relative program, to provide increased assistance, broader supports and new safeguards for children.

·         Legislation will be introduced enabling universities to remove themselves from the government reporting entity.

·         A new Master Teacher program will be developed.   

·         New partnerships with the private sector and parents will enable the establishment of neighbourhood preschools for four-year-olds and three-year-olds within communities over the next five years. They will provide families new voluntary options for public and private preschool across B.C. close to where they live.

·         New emphasis will be placed on parental involvement and in tailoring the education system to each child’s individual needs and passions.

·         New forms of schooling will be developed to provide greater choice and diversity, centered on students’ special interests and talents.

·         Voluntary, full-time kindergarten for five-year-olds will be implemented this September. It will be fully funded and in every school by September 2011.

·         Smarter approaches will allow more resources to be focused on students’ learning needs while less is spent on administrative costs.

·         In concert with local governments, Neighbourhood Learning Centres will integrate neighborhood needs with available capital resources and under-utilized spaces. Seven-day-a-week facilities management is fundamental to providing critical community services that meet the needs of B.C.’s families affordably.

·         The University of British Columbia’s Living Laboratory initiative will be expanded and enhanced so citizens benefit from the new products and new knowledge that it fosters.

·         Innovation in health-support services, new hospitals and public-private partnerships will be introduced to give patients new choices, to reward performance in health delivery and to protect public health care for future generations.

·         The government will increase access to residencies for Canadians who have received their medical undergraduate training outside Canada.

·         Significant changes will be introduced to improve timely access to justice, combat crime, reduce impaired and dangerous driving and improve public safety.

 

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Contact:

 

Bridgitte Anderson

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 307-7177

 

 

 

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