The provincial government’s vision is generating considerable debate.
The Legislature opened Tuesday with the speech from the throne and the Liberal government’s plans for the new session.
“I’m really happy to see a continued focus on job creation and getting people to work,” said Greg Kyllo, Shuswap MLA.
“People gave us a mandate and the throne speech meets the commitment made in the election campaign.”
Among the highlights of the throne speech are an overall framework for liquefied natural gas, a 10-year plan to prioritize transportation investments and a new strategy for the technology sector.
There is also a call for a 10-year initiative for youth and older workers wanting to upgrade their skills.
Kyllo is convinced trades training is critical to the future of families and the economy.
“When you look at the income potential in the trades, it outpaces some of the academic careers,” he said.
However, Tom Birch, B.C. Conservative president, questions the merits of the throne speech.
“A balanced budget is a good thing but we are facing massive B.C. Hydro hikes because for the last decade this government has lessened its deficit by forcing debt on our Crown corporations,” he said.
“This latest rate hike is a direct result of budgetary mismanagement and still we have not seen a balanced budget in a long time. Instead, we have over-stated future LNG revenues to lull us into a false sense of security.”
Another aspect of the throne speech is a plan for personalized education for students and pursuing a 10-year contract with teachers.
This comes at the same time that the government and the B.C. Teachers Federation are in a dispute over class sizes.
“It’s not exactly the most amiable of times but I hope we can get through that. At the end of the day, this is about children and families,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, who backs the tone of the throne speech.
“We stuck exactly to what we said we’d do in the election. It’s all about vision, it’s all about the economy.”
Steve Gunner, with the Shuswap NDP, says there are no specifics in the throne speech about B.C.’s reliance on LNG or creating value-added jobs.
“The government has more work to do. They need to look at the details,” he said.
Gunner questions the proposed transportation plan and whether it will meet the needs of the North Okanagan-Shuswap.
“There are no specifics as to how to achieve it. Why not have a plan tying the Kelowna airport and the university with light rail to the rest of the Okanagan?”