The B.C. government is promising to tackle cellphones costs, ticket scalpers, money laundering and poverty in a throne speech that also addresses an unfolding scandal at the legislature.
The province’s minority NDP government says it will launch a poverty reduction strategy in an effort to help more than 500,000 people living below the poverty line.
The government passed legislation last year to cut B.C.’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and the child poverty rate by 50 per cent over the first five years of the plan.
Other items in the government’s political agenda include rules to prevent the unfair resale of concert tickets and tabling legislation that makes B.C. the first province in Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin, also says the government believes there is a need to provide greater transparency in cellphone billing and it is promising to advocate for more affordable mobile phone options.
The speech says reforms will be implemented as well to restore trust in the legislature after two top officials were suspended over allegations of spending abuse.
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the government will work to develop tighter checks on all officials at the legislature to ensure strict spending and reporting rules.
Clerk of the house Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz have denied any wrongdoing in response to a report detailing allegations against them by Speaker Darryl Plecas.
Premier John Horgan laid out different policies and programs brought in by the NDP to improve affordability for families including the elimination of Medical Services Plan next year, a continued freeze on ferry fares on major routes and keeping discounts on secondary and northern ferry routes for a second consecutive year.
“Our government’s affordability initiatives have put more money back in people’s pockets,” he said in a statement.