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Horgan is back and moving BC forward

"Building a stronger B.C. is not about pulling back" ~ Premier John Horgan

Tuesday February 8, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC

Editorial news coverage | by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

“If we were simple we would have solved it already.” That was Premier John Horgan’s statement today about dealing with the opioid crisis in BC. But it could easily be applied to just about everything the BC Government has had on its plate in the past five years, especially during the pandemic.

Immediately following the BC Throne Speech delivered by Lt Gov Janet Austin today, Horgan addressed media questions on a range of issues that were obvious and salient. That included the economy and public health restrictions.

lt gov, janet austin, premier, john horgan
LT Gov Janet Austin greeting the NDP side of the legislature after her Throne Speech on Feb 8, 2022.

Within all that were questions about whether BC will offer financial backing to FIFA to bring the World Cup to BC Stadium in Vancouver in 2026.

Horgan has returned from several weeks of cancer treatments (he announced his throat cancer at the end of October 2021 and underwent treatments in December and January), and made a point of mentioning that he will require more water as he speaks, to support his current health status in recovery.

lana popham, berries, turkey
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Lana Popham said after the Sumas Valley flooding in mid-November 2021 that the food supply chain is stable. [Nov 30, 2021]

Horgan was particularly pleased at a major administrative adjustment to help care for the land in BC. A new ministry was announced today, separating off forestry on its own for additional focus there. Horgan reiterated the historical good fortune that BC has had (i.e. the vision of the creation of the Agricultural Land Reserve in the early 1970s by a then-NDP government) so that food can be grown in BC and especially on the geographically isolated Vancouver Island. Food security has long been a priority for Horgan, whose lifestyle base has been on Vancouver Island.

This week significant funding support was announced for the recovery of the farming industry in the Fraser Valley after the atmospheric river flooding that happened in mid-November 2021.

Political approach to provincial management:

“Our government knows we can’t cut our way to a better future,” said Horgan in a government news release following the Throne Speech. “Building a stronger B.C. is not about pulling back,” he said, which lobs a missive in the direction of the BC Liberal opposition that is ramping up with new leadership.

anne kang, ravi kahlon
Minister of Advanced Education & Skills Training Anne Kang and Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon announce new focus on job-training, Feb 7, 2022.

Today he told media the public money will be put to good use, through rationalizing and streamlining processes, and putting funds where needed. An economic plan will be released by Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon, Horgan said today. As well, the BC Budget 2022 will be coming soon from Finance Minister Selina Robinson.

Horgan sees BC’s economic strength including investor confidence, a skilled workforce, and being responsive to new ideas as they come along.

The BC Liberals tend to cut back as part of an austerity approach to governance. That left many British Columbians far behind by 2016, and was a significant reason why Horgan’s NDP team was successful in achieving power in 2017. In 2020, Horgan achieved a majority mandate, so he’s got two more years as full master of the ship.

COVID frustrations:

Noting the public’s frustration at having to deal with pandemic-related restrictions for over two years: “We have been through a lot together and no doubt there will be more challenges ahead. But if we look out for each other, we have shown we can overcome anything that gets thrown our way.”

adrian dix, dr henry
BC Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry on January 28, 2022 — the two-year anniversary of the first test-positive case of COVID in BC.

The Premier was questioned today about the easing of public health restrictions that have been put in place (and frequently adapted) during the pandemic — especially in light of restrictions being eased up now or soon by Saskatchewan and Alberta, among other jurisdictions.

But Horgan stuck fast to his approach that has been consistent throughout the pandemic, and that is to leave the guidance and direction to public health, through Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry under the direction of the Minister of Health Adrian Dix. He noted that Dr Henry has already mentioned about things possibly easing up around Family Day (February 21) as the Omicron wave begins to stabilize.

Health-care funding:

horgan, chair, cof, premiers
BC Premier John Horgan is the Chair of the Council of the Federation. The 13 premiers of Canada’s provinces and territories met on February 4, 2022 and held a media teleconference afterward.

Horgan of course today noted the need for more funding for health-care, in the form of a transfer (Canada Health Transfer) from the federal government.

As Chair of the Council of the Federation (all 13 Canadian premiers) Horgan said today that he has the skills to present and persuade the case to the Prime Minister and federal government, that provinces be adequately funded to deliver the health care that is a provincial and territorial responsibility.

The costs of dealing with COVID in the past two years — while shored up and backed by the federal government providing supplies of vaccines and COVID test kits — has been entirely on the backs of provinces.

Forward-looking agenda in 2022:

Mitzi Dean

Specific actions the government will take in the coming months to build a stronger B.C. for everyone include (as published from the Throne Speech news release):

  • Ensuring B.C. workers do not get left behind by tying minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation;
  • Protecting people buying homes in a volatile market by introducing a cooling-off period on home purchases;
  • Helping prepare people for the jobs of the future with a generational commitment to develop the talent B.C. needs over the next 10 years to close the skills gap;
  • Moving forward on reconciliation by working to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act through an action plan drafted in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples;
  • Recognizing British Columbians’ shared history by taking a major step towards establishing the first Chinese Canadian Museum in Canada and modernizing the Royal BC Museum;
  • Bringing more certainty and reliability to child care by moving responsibility to the Ministry of Education;
  • Improving management of B.C.’s land and resources by creating a new ministry to better support goals of reconciliation, economic development and environmental protection.

Thanking BC MLAs:

At the end of the Throne Speech today, Lt Gov Austin thanked legislators for their “tireless work and leadership”, their “love of BC”, and the “sacrifices you make for the privilege of serving”.

john horgan, constituency, ad