Home Government of BC BC Legislative Assembly Election year BC Throne Speech loops in middle class

Election year BC Throne Speech loops in middle class

Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin delivers Spring Session 2024 Throne Speech - Feb 20, 2024

janet austin, lieutenant governor,, throne speech
Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin delivered the BC Throne Speech on Feb 20, 2024. [Hansard]

Tuesday February 20, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 6 pm]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The Throne speech lays out vision of a stronger B.C. that works better for people — that’s the headline on today’s Office of the Premier news release as the Throne speech was being read aloud by Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin.

Austin opened the final session of the 42nd Parliament by delivering the speech from the throne, laying out the BC government’s vision for a stronger province that works better for people.

We’re nowhere near satisfied’:

“While our government is proud of the progress we’ve made for people through tough times, we’re nowhere near satisfied,” said Premier Eby in the news release.

david eby, ravi kahlon, throne speech
Premier David Eby and Govenrment House Leader Ravi Kahlon on Throne Speech day, Feb 20, 2024. [Hansard]

“Our economy is strong, with low unemployment and the highest wages in the country. But too many are still struggling to get ahead – even those in the middle class who earn a decent paycheque. That’s why we’ll continue bringing people together to solve big challenges and help everyone build a good life here.”

Shifting to middle class attention:

While the BC NDP have done an attentive job of supporting the lowest-income people in BC, in this election year attention is being turned toward the middle-class housing and economic challenges.

“The speech outlined actions government will take over the next few months to deliver more middle-class homes faster, help working families and small businesses with costs, strengthen public health care and services, and build a cleaner economy that works for everyone-not just those at the top. It also committed to expanding actions to protect children from harms at schools, in their communities and online,” the premier’s office stated.

bc builds, logo
BC Builds is a program to develop rental housing for middle-income households, launched mid-February 2024.

“Everyone belongs, everyone can get ahead, and no one gets left behind,” said Austin.

Economic challenges:

“In this time of global uncertainty and turmoil, we face some important questions,” Premier Eby said. “Will we be a province where people are driven apart and left to face tough challenges alone? Or will we continue to be a place where people take care of each other and build a better future together? If we reject division and bring people together to solve problems, our brightest days are ahead of us.”

premier, david eby
Premier David Eby in the Legislative Assembly on Throne Speech day, Feb 20, 2024. [Hansard]

“Even in the face of a slower global economy and high interest rates, the speech pointed to positive signals that the BC government’s actions are working: 74,000 mostly private-sector jobs created last year; a 30% year-over-year increase in new rental homes registered; 700 new doctors added in BC.; a 75% decrease in stranger attacks in Vancouver; and hundreds of thousands receiving help from cost-of-living measures, like free prescription contraception,” the statement said.

Eby has been vocal since last year about the enormous burden that Bank of Canada interest rate decisions have made on everyday citizens.

“Getting prices down” is important for economic recovery, it was stated in the Throne Speech.

The throne speech also shared stories of people who are being helped by measures taken over the last year to increase the supply of affordable homes, improve health care with more family doctors and better cancer screening, add new addiction treatment beds, and cut the cost of child care for families.

monk office, chairs

About one million job openings will need to be filled in the next 10 years. Closing the skills gap that employers are facing is an objective of the BC NDP government. International students will be protected against “bad actors”, said Austin.

20 pieces of legislation:

This session, the government expects to pass at least 20 pieces of legislation and introduce a new budget that focuses on helping working and middle-class families with steady investments in the services they rely on, not cuts.

Some highlights from the speech from the throne include:

  • Delivering more homes for people by launching BC Builds, while taking new action to protect renters from bad-faith evictions and help first-time homebuyers.
  • Helping people and small businesses with costs through new measures coming in Budget 2024, while tackling the root causes that make life more expensive.
  • Strengthening public health care by continuing to attract more family doctors while investing new resources into cancer care and long-term care for seniors.
  • Building an economy that works better for people by leveraging B.C.’s strength in natural resources, and training people for the good clean jobs of today and tomorrow.
  • Protecting B.C. from climate emergencies with year-around wildfire-fighting resources and new actions to reduce pollution from big industrial emitters.
  • Keeping kids and communities safe by introducing new legislation to protect schools and kids from disruptive protests and to hold big social media companies accountable.
city of langford, budget 2024

Quick mentions:

Food security was briefly mentioned with a comment about “low cost local food”, followed by a quick shift to efforts to keep BC Ferries fares under control.

urban food resilience initiatives society, logo
The Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society is based in the west shore of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

The natural environment is a source of fresh food, the LG said. Nutrition programs will be expanded through Feeding Futures, it was stated today – something that Premier David Eby promised last week in Langley during a community chat about the budget.

“Small businesses are still finding their feet after the pandemic and are still facing challenges today,” the LG said.

The climate crisis is here, and another tough wildfire season is expected this summer, said Austin.


Unprecedented level of construction over the next 10 years, including boosting electricity grid and green hydrogen infrastructure.

LNG and battery-component production were mentioned.

Dressing of the day:

The LG and members of the legislature were greeted by the Lekwungen singers and dancers of the Songhees Nation – a powerful symbol of B.C.’s commitment to reconciliation and moving forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. A message of reflection was delivered by Rabbi Harry Brechner.

Opposition response:

The BC Greens say the BC NDP Government Throne Speech has a “lack of strategy, a lack of action, a lack of accountability for their spending”, saying it has “fragmented approach” and that the Greens would propose “genuine solutions that address inequality, climate change, and the lack of access to basic services”.

sonia furstenau, adam olsen, bc greens
BC Green Party leadership Sonia Furstenau (Party Leader) and Adam Olsen (House Leader), Fall 2023. [Composite – Island Social Trends]

“The Throne Speech paints a picture that doesn’t match up with the real problems British Columbians are experiencing,” said BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau in a news release this afternoon. She itemizes that “health care remains inaccessible for too many, schools are overcrowded and lack resources, homes are too costly, and the gap between the rich and the poor keeps getting wider,” she said.

BC Green House Leader Adam Olsen added that “inequality is widening and deepening, services are lacking and the uncertainty that climate chnage brings is making it hard for us to imagine the future we want for our children”.

Conservative Party of BC Leader John Rustad posted in social media after hearing the Throne Speech: “In today’s throne speech, NDP Premier Eby admitted that things have been getting worse and worse in BC for everyday people, for over 30 years. Together, the NDP & BCU Liberals have sunk BC — it’s going to take a common sense conservative approach to get BC’s future back.”

jdf, emerg

BC United Official Opposition House Leader Todd Stone posted in social media: “The NDP Throne Speech well articulates the affordability crisis, healthcare mess and dire public safety / mental health & addiction realities British Columbians are facing … after 7 years of NDP Gov’t … and it’s also breathtakingly devoid of NDP solutions to these challenges.”

===== RELATED:

Kahlon promises 20 new bills in robust spring session (February 20, 2024)

$2 billion federal backing for BC Builds (February 20, 2024)

Beare, Chow & Parmar get new posts ahead of spring session (February 20, 2024)