Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS

B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Record infrastructure spending, thousands more people hired to work in health care and further “targeted” support for businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic are on the way, Premier John Horgan promises in a speech from the throne to begin the spring session of the B.C. legislature.

The next round of pandemic-related spending is to be detailed in the NDP government’s budget on April 20, adding billions more to the province’s debt after it finished its fiscal year in March with a deficit of about $13 billion. “Then, after the pandemic ends, it will carefully return to balanced budgets as the economy recovers,” Lt. Governor Janet Austin told the legislature in presenting the speech April 12.

“In the year ahead, your government will continue to improve care for seniors by hiring thousands of new workers for long-term care and fixing the cracks COVID-19 exposed. It will reduce wait times by permanently changing the way we deliver surgeries in B.C. to get more patients their surgery faster.”

The speech also promises to increase spending on mental health, via the Pathway to Hope program Horgan announced in 2019. It promised to increase access to counselling and expand Foundry youth centres. “And B.C. will take action to end the criminalization of simple drug possession that directly leads to stigma and prevents people from seeking services,” the speech says.

RELATED: How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit going to get?

RELATED: Speculation tax doesn’t cool B.C.’s housing market

Infrastructure spending refers to ongoing projects like the Pattullo bridge replacement, whose completion has been delayed by a year, the Trans-Canada Highway widening project east of Kamloops and the final phase of the Kicking Horse Canyon project, all with union-only workforces and a promise of more apprentice training. “The George Massey crossing replacement will continue to be a priority and steps will be taken toward building the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, ensuring the line fully extends to Langley.”

The B.C. legislature finished a delayed fall session in March, and is now expected to sit until June 17 to debate the budget and spending for various ministries.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sprig of Heather restaurant at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum features a 40-by-40 foot covered pavilion in the heart of the public garden. (Photo contributed)
Salmon Arm’s RJ Haney Heritage Village preps for opening of new attractions

No date set yet, new highlights will be Sprig of Heather restaurant, Children’s Discovery Centre

A topographic (3D) perspective captured from Google Earth, to create a perspective of the approximate proposed cut block outlines on Mount Ida in relation familiar local landmarks. (Alex Inselberg image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief explains proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Dogs can understand some English

Your morning start for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Followers of CBC reporter Justin McElroy’s twitter feed responded to his criticism of Salmon Arm’s new municipal flag by offering alternative design options. (Justin McElroy/Twitter)
Salmon Arm flag design flounders on internet

‘Business card’ design prompts creative alternatives

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

The community is rallying around Phil Hotzon who needs a new electric tricycle. (Contributed)
Tricycle for Phil: Support pours in for Kelowna man with traumatic brain injury

Phil Hotzon lost his electric tricycle after falling into Mill Creek, fundraiser aims to replace it

The area around the Christie Mountain wildfire that was restricted to the public is no longer restricted effective at 12 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (BC Wildfire photo)
The area around where the Christie Mountain wildfire took place is officially restricted to the public effective May 12. (BC Wildfire photo)
Christie Mountain wildlife area near Penticton closed to public

The area was damaged in 2020 by the Christie Mountain wildfire

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

A property crime map for the month of March shows the hot spot for crimes is centered around the area where the Victory Church homeless shelter is located. (City Submitted)
B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute

Mayor sends letter urging premier to reconsider Eby’s use of paramountcy powers

Most Read