B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Premier John Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future.

The speech is expected to set the government’s agenda following one last year that was dominated by COVID-19 recovery efforts after the NDP’s election win in October.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson is set to table the government’s first budget on April 20. Last December in a fiscal update she forecast a budget deficit nearing $14 billion.

Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond said the government’s economic, social and health programs throughout the pandemic have been unfocused and the Opposition will demand initiatives with straightforward goals.

“We expect premier Horgan to lay out a plan that deals with the significant issues that British Columbians care about,” Bond said in an interview. “It starts with the response to COVID-19 and what that looks like moving forward.”

The Liberals want more support for small- and medium-sized businesses as opposed to complex and slow relief programs, she said.

“It’s not enough to have one-off programs being announced all over the province,” said Bond. “One of the themes that has emerged with this government is a lack of strategic planning.”

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the throne speech will focus on getting B.C. through and beyond the pandemic.

“We want to get the pandemic behind us,” he said. “We want to build back stronger. We want to invest in people. We want to strengthen communities. We want to make sure that we are able to help businesses grow and hire.”

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure, but the fight against the pandemic is paramount.

“Obviously critical is ensuring we get British Columbians vaccinated,” said Farnworth. “The next few months are going to be critical in that regard.”

Bond said the throne speech needs to present details about the government’s plans to create jobs and promote economic recovery in the short-term and after the pandemic.

“It is time for this government to lay out a plan that deals with some of the critical issues we are facing in B.C.,” Bond said.

Among the serious issues facing the province is the ongoing opioid overdose deaths, she said.

“We are in the middle of a crisis when it comes to mental health supports and an opioid crisis and despite a lot of talk we have seen little action that’s been effective on that front,” said Bond.

The B.C. Coroners Services reported a record number of illicit opioid overdose deaths in 2020, when 1,716 people died.

Adam Olsen, one of two B.C. Greens in the legislature, said the NDP has yet to offer a clear agenda since the fall election, when the party said it needed a majority to offer steady government during the pandemic.

“Most governments after they get elected have got a 100-day plan, very clearly articulating what their next steps and first steps are for the government,” he said. “That’s really been missing since November.”

Olsen said he recognizes the pandemic has been all-encompassing for the government and responses are required, but there are other issues facing the province, including the Site C dam.

“We’ve got one of the largest projects of any government in the history of this province and in this country, the Site C dam, that is very clearly troubled,” said Olsen.

Last month, Horgan said the hydroelectric dam faced “significant challenges” due to geotechnical issues and COVID-19 construction delays that would increase the estimated cost of the project to $16 billion and delay completion by one year to 2025.

The province is also facing environmental concerns about increased greenhouse gas emissions connected to the massive $40 billion LNG Canada project in northern B.C. and the Greens want the government to halt logging in an old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island.

“We’ve got a government saying they’re addressing all those things, but there’s no coherent plan,” said Olsen. “When you don’t have that coherent plan you can look at, it’s very difficult to evaluate the success.”

Olsen said the government hasn’t yet been able to present its vision for the future.

“I hope that they use this throne speech to lay that vision out for British Columbians, more than just launching a program in response to something, fixing it on the fly and then claiming success.”

READ MORE: Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC NDPBC politicsCoronavirusJohn Horgan

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

Just Posted

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue members, before descending into a gorge near Nile Creek to rescue an injured woman on Sunday, May 2, 2021. (ASAR Twitter photo)
Arrowsmith SAR crews help rescue hiker who plunged 10 metres onto rocks near Nile Creek

Helicopter with winch system required for technical operation in remote location

The graph provided by the City of Parksville in a release issued on May 4, depicting a balanced financial budget for 2021. (submitted photo)
City of Parksville announces a balanced budget for 2021

Penalty date for property tax payments extended from July 2 to Oct. 1

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum First Nation artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

FILE – Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Looking for the nearest COVID shot? Tech entrepreneur creates texting software in B.C

Zain Manji says app took just one or two hours to create

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
Two cougars killed following attack in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (top, in a game against the Manitoba Bisons, <ins>making one of his 38 Canada West solo tackles in 2019</ins>), was chosen in Tuesday’s 2021 Canadian Football League draft. (Rich Lam - UBC Thunderbirds photo)
B.C. Lions call on Vernon standout in CFL draft

Canadian Football League club selects former VSS Panthers star Ben Hladik in third round of league draft

Some of the affidavits filed come from family members of Casa Loma and Comox Valley Seniors Village residents in Courtenay, along with other homes on Vancouver Island. The case started over care in a Chilliwack home. Black Press file photo
Seniors’ homes on Island included in class action suit

Plaintiffs applying for class certification have to amend their submissions

Most Read