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BC Throne Speech focuses on affordability and services

HSA President Val Avery welcomed the new government’s first formal Throne Speech today, which focused on affordability for British Columbians and charting a course for change from the 16 years of the old government that saw support for BC families deteriorate dramatically.

Highlights of the Throne Speech, which lays out the NDP government’s framework for the upcoming legislative session, include focusing on affordable childcare and housing as major priorities.

“I’m glad to see the government has placed affordability and investment in public services at the centre of its message today,” Avery said.

“We’ve certainly seen some positive developments with the province’s new leadership, and we will continue to push for additional support to address critical labour shortages and improve healthcare delivery across BC.”

HSA continues to advocate for increased investments in health care, a clear strategy for addressing labour shortages in health services, and prioritizing mental health and substance use treatment and prevention.

“Today, we are glad to see that the government has promised increased training for Early Childhood Educators and continued spending to address the overdose crisis,” she said.

In the first few months of the mandate HSA has welcomed infrastructure investments for hospitals: the concept plans for Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and Cariboo Memorial Hospital have been approved, bringing these hospital developments closer to fruition, and a concept plan is underway for a new hospital in Surrey. HSA also welcomed the government’s response to the Nanaimo iHealth records project at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Health Minister Adrian Dix removed the Vancouver Island’s Health Authority’s decision-making power over the electronic health records project after an independent report exposed the authority for mismanagement and failed leadership.  Last week, the government announced it will be investing $105 million into BC’s PharmaCare program, which will eliminate deductibles for households whose net incomes are $30,000 or lower.

The new government also reduced MSP premiums by 50 per cent, and HSA is working to ensure that MSP savings inherited by employers are transferred to members.

Next week, the government will introduce its first budget, and HSA will be looking for a continued commitment to making up for the last 16 years of reduced services and affordability.