NDP Government: Fall legislative session builds on actions to make life better

MAKING life better for people underpinned government’s work in the fall legislative session to tackle climate change, dig into the reasons for high gas prices and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples in B.C., the NDP Government said in a statement.

“People in B.C. want a government that works for them and understands what it means to make their lives better,” said Premier John Horgan, as the legislature rose for the end of session. “We’re working hard to put people first – to put more money back in their pockets, build a strong economy and take action on climate change. Two and a half years into our mandate, we’ve made great progress and there’s more to come.”

Historic legislation was enacted this session to recognize and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples in B.C. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act will create a path forward on reconciliation that helps build stronger communities, stable jobs and economic growth, while protecting the environment. British Columbia is the first province to pass legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The fall session also saw legislation to create a long-term, stable source of revenue for B.C. First Nations. The Gaming Control Amendment Act will allocate 7% of British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s net income to B.C. First Nations as part of a 25-year commitment that will see approximately $3 billion in revenues shared.

The Province’s CleanBC plan to fight climate change and grow the low-carbon economy was given more weight with the Climate Change Accountability Act.

“British Columbians want real action on climate change, and this legislation puts more accountability behind our CleanBC plan,” Horgan said. “Meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets and shifting to a low-carbon economy will take hard work, innovation and relentless effort, but we’re determined to make it happen. It’s the most urgent issue of our time and future generations are depending on us to protect what makes B.C. so special.”

Government also brought forward amended legislation to enable more solar power plants and change the Motor Vehicle Act to make green transportation devices, such as electric scooters, safer and easier for everyone to use.

Making life more affordable for people remains a government priority. The Fuel Price Transparency Act will bring more fairness to the prices drivers pay at the pumps. Holding gas companies accountable and providing a clear view into how prices are set will give government more opportunity to make sure British Columbians are not overcharged.

As people in B.C. are also paying too much for their cellphone service, the Province is advocating for increased transparency and more affordable options by working with the federal government to take action.

These fall session initiatives are part of government’s broader work to make life more affordable and help people get ahead. Other measures to date include 22,000 new affordable homes that are completed or underway, more than 10,000 affordable child care spaces funded, and an Affordable Child Care Benefit that is saving families up to $15,000 per year. Looking ahead, the full elimination of medical service plan premiums on Jan. 1, 2020, will save individuals up to $900 a year and families as much as $1,800 a year – the biggest middle-class tax cut in B.C.’s history.

As part of listening to British Columbians to bring positive change people want, government took steps toward moving to permanent daylight saving time after 93% of B.C. respondents showed support in a public engagement survey. Legislation passed this fall will be enacted on a future date in consultation with Washington, Oregon, California and the Yukon, who have all signalled their intention to join B.C. in ending the annual time change.

Throughout the fall session, B.C. continued to show its economic strength by leading Canada with the lowest unemployment rate, second-highest hourly wage growth over the past year, ‘AAA’ credit rating, balanced budgets and zero operating debt for the first time in 40 years.

The Confidence and Supply Agreement with the BC Green Party caucus continues to provide the basis for a strong, stable government for British Columbia. By working together, progress continues to be made on shared priorities like climate change, tackling the housing crisis and building a strong, diverse economy.

“Our government is listening to people and we’re working for them,” Horgan added. “While the previous government prioritized the wealthy few at the top, we’re investing in all British Columbians. Everyone deserves a good life and a better future. There’s more to do, but by putting people first and staying the course, we are building a stronger B.C.”