VICTORIA — A refreshed housing plan and health care, public safety, environment and cost-of-living initiatives will be the focus of the British Columbia New Democrat government’s political agenda over the coming months, says house leader Ravi Kahlon.
B.C. politicians return to the legislature Monday for the spring sitting, starting with a throne speech laying out the government’s goals for the months ahead, followed by the tabling of the province’s budget at the end of this month.
“You are going to see a focus on health care,” said Kahlon in an interview. “You are going to see a focus on public safety. There’ll be, I think, a clear, important focus on cost of living and environment and balancing the environment and the economy.”
The government is planning to introduce more than two dozen pieces of legislation during the session, which is set to conclude in May, he said.
Opposition Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said he’s been travelling the province and wherever he goes people are expressing frustration with what he called the NDP government’s lack of action on health and public safety.
“You know, whether it’s health care, whether it’s public safety, housing or affordability, there’s a massive gap between what they promised and what their press releases say, and the outcomes people see,” said Falcon.
He said Premier David Eby’s plan for his first 100 days in office amounted to “just making announcements.”
Eby, who replaced former premier John Horgan late last year, has introduced initiatives to bring more health-care workers to B.C., increase police officers in rural communities and pass housing legislation to speed up development and create more rental spaces.
“This session you’ll also see a refreshed housing plan that will lay out key initiatives that we are going to be taking in the coming year and years ahead to address the housing crisis,” said Kahlon, who is minister of housing.
Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the party will press the government to deliver programs and policies that help people.
“We are going to be bringing forward big ideas and action plans that are oriented to how do we deliver well-being,” she said.
Furstenau also said the Greens do not want to be caught off guard as they were in 2020 by the possibility of a snap election.
The Greens have already started to nominate candidates in advance of the scheduled fall 2024 vote to ensure they are ready to go whenever an election is called.
Horgan called an early election in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and won an NDP majority, after three years of minority rule.
Kahlon said the NDP has no plans for an early election.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.