British Columbia’s NDP government is set to present its throne speech later today, laying out its priorities more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth has said the throne speech will focus on getting B.C. through and beyond the pandemic.
Finance Minister Selina Robinson is set to table the government’s first budget on April 20. Last December in a fiscal update she forecast a budget deficit nearing $14 billion.
Farnworth says the budget will include details of government investment in infrastructure, but will also keep focused on the fight against COVID-19.
Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond says the government’s economic, social and health programs throughout the pandemic have been unfocused and the Opposition will demand initiatives with straightforward goals.
Adam Olsen, one of two B.C. Greens in the legislature say the NDP has yet to offer a clear agenda since their fall election win.
“We expect premier Horgan to lay out a plan that deals with the significant issues that British Columbians care about,” Bond said in an interview. “It starts with the response to COVID-19 and what that looks like moving forward.”
The Liberals want more support for small- and medium-sized businesses as opposed to complex and slow relief programs, she said.
“It’s not enough to have one-off programs being announced all over the province,” said Bond. “One of the themes that has emerged with this government is a lack of strategic planning.”
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the throne speech will focus on getting B.C. through and beyond the pandemic.
“We want to get the pandemic behind us,” he said. “We want to build back stronger. We want to invest in people. We want to strengthen communities. We want to make sure that we are able to help businesses grow and hire.”
Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure, but the fight against the pandemic is paramount.
With files to the Canadian Press.