Home Government of BC BC Legislative Assembly Kahlon promises 20 new bills in robust spring session

Kahlon promises 20 new bills in robust spring session

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

Tuesday February 20, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

BC Government House Leader Ravi Kahlon took media questions immediately after delivery of the Throne Speech today. He stated the obvious, that “affordability and challenges in the community” would be addressed in Budget 2024. He said that “the throne speech always reflects where the community is at”.

The Throne speech today laid 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 today.

The spring session will in many ways be business as usual. “Of course we’ll deal with the election in October but we have a lot of work still to do ahead of that,” said Kahlon, who is Housing Minister as well as Government House Leader.

david eby, ravi kahlon
Premier David Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced BC Builds on Feb 13, 2024 in North Vancouver. [Composite by Island Social Trends]

As Housing Minister he released five pieces of housing legislation last fall, and last week was part of the BC Builds rental housing construction program announcement.

Housing emphasis continues:

Kahlon said that housing affordability challenges grew out of neglect by the previous government (pre-2017) for which now — with population increases — the current NDP government is grappling to deal with. “For two decades, governments decided they weren’t going to invest in affordable housing. That is one of the major reasons that we’re paying the price for the housing crisis today.”

“If you look at the amount of affordable housing that would have continued to be built if federal and provincial governments had invested in housing, we wouldn’t have the massive shortfall that we have right now,” said Kahlon. “Which is hurting people in our province. Not only in cities but in small communities as well,” he added.

BC Builds has already been launched to deal with first-time homebuyers said Kahlon, even though it is a rental housing construction program. “It will start with rental in year one, but it is going to move toward home ownership in the coming years,” said Kahlon about the BC Builds program that was announced February 13.

“The prime minister and the premier — with their announcement today with a fantastic step forward for BC Builds — a doubling of the dollars that we’re investing — will help us build more rentals in the short term but more affordable home ownership opportunities in the years ahead,” said Kahlon. “Combined with the Province’s investment, the $2 billion in low-cost loans, available through the Apartment Construction Loan Program, will help build a minimum of 8,000 to 10,000 additional new homes for the middle class,” it was stated by Trudeau’s office. Today the Prime Minister was quoted: “Canada needs more homes that the middle class can afford.” [See Prime Minister’s office news release about investing in BC housing – February 20, 2024]

bc builds, vancouver, trudeau, eby, sim
City of Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim at the podium, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier David Eby, at the federal announcement of funding support for BC Builds, Feb 20, 2024. [X]

“In the end, people can’t find place, so we need to make sure that we continue to find opportunities to get more homes built. So that when people are ready to get into home ownership that there’s an opportunity there for them,” said Kahlon today.

Small businesses and families:

“We know that we also know that we have to do more work to support small businesses and families and of course that will be for the Minister of Finance in the budget,” said Kahlon. Budget 2024 will be announced by Minister Katrine Conroy on Thursday February 22.

katrine conroy, finance minister
BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy delivered Budget 2023 on Feb 28, 2023 in Victoria.

“Our focus is to continue to do the work that British Columbians sent us here to do,” said Kahlon, referring to the context of an upcoming election platform later this summer. “So we’re going to continue to work on expanding and strengthening our health are services, continue to help the affordable housing crisis that we have, and of course addressing some of the challenges we have when it comes to global inflation.”

“Those are the focuses for us right now, that’s what the focus of the budget will be as well,” said Kahlon with something of a reveal about Thursday’s budget content.

Helping renters:

Kahlon said that parameters for the BC Housing RAP & SAFER low-income renter support programs are under review. He said the last review was in 2018 including an expansion of 42%, but rent levels are much higher in 2024.

bc housing, logo

Kahlon said the pandemic created new challenge in that regard and that another review was started last year in recognition of the rent levels not being accurately reflected in RAP and SAFER calculations. He noted that the BC Seniors Advocate had raised the issue with his ministry.

“We do expect some changes to come, but we’re still doing that work so more will come soon,” said Kahlon.

He addressed bad-faith evictions, saying some owners say they’ll be using their home for family to move in but just end up re-renting it.

monk office, chairs

Anything new in the budget:

Substantive and new… . Also ensuring that kids are safe at school, with reference to protesters near schools. He called schools a “safe space” where kids “do what they need to do, which is learn”.

Something similar to what was done around hospitals during the pandemic will be introduced for schools, Kahlon explained. He articulated that such events and presumably the actions to deal with them “are time-limited in nature”.

school yard, ruth king, elementary, langford
School safety with regard to protesters nearby will be addressed in Spring 2024 legislation. File photo: Ruth King Elementary school field in Langford [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Spring session legislation promises 20 new bills. It will be a “mix of things”, some of them housing-related, said Kahlon. But he noted that already some significant changes were made last fall to unlock housing and reduce red tape in the BC housing market last year. He let slip that changes to the Vancouver Charter will be coming this spring (impacting housing in the City of Vancouver). He reiterated that changes to support renters have already been brought in.

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

About the range and number of new bills: “They will be encompassing, we will be busy this session. And that’s what British Columbians expect from us,” said Kahlon.

Conservative themes:

BC Conservatives are likely to show electoral strength in the upcoming provincial election, based on several recent polls. “BC Conservatives are bringing in far-right ideology from the US,” said Kahlon — something he was already talking about at the BC NDP convention in November 2023.

ravi kahlon, podium, bc ndp, convention
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon addressed the BC NDP convention to wrap things up, Sun Nov 19, 2023. [Island Social Trends]

“There was a poll recently that Trump-style politics were coming to British Columbia. Well, it’s too late – it’s already here, it’s John Rustad and the BC Conservative Party. The public and British Columbia should be worried about them and some of the views they’re bringing up to British Columbia,” said Kahlon.

city of langford, budget 2024

Climate action:

“Some progress on addressing climate change will be brought forward this session,” said Kahlon.

“Climate never takes a back seat. We continue to take really important steps to address that,” said Kahlon told media today.

“This session, there will be new measures brought forward to ensure that some of the bad actors are doing their part to not only help us address climate change but also seeing the economic opportunities that comes from the pressures of climate change.”

“And there is some important legislation coming this session to address that,” Kahlon said today.


Island Social Trends has been covering BC politics (with a focus on the west shore, and all with a socioeconomic lens) since 2011. The previous mastheads were Sooke Voice News (weekly print newspaper 2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (weekly print newspaper 2014-2020) until Island Social Trends launched online in summer 2020 at IslandSocialTrends.ca .

headshot, mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher of Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends is now also in print (biweekly) starting 2024 as found in coffee shops, rec centres, libraries and some retail outlets; Premium PDF available by email.

Mary P Brooke is the founder and editor for all of the news publications in this series. She is a local news publisher in Langford, BC.