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Child care, housing measures expected to highlight provincial throne speech

Last Updated Feb 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm PDT

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Some pundits say throne speech will give an indication of the strength of the relationship between Horgan, Weaver

Child care, housing affordability among topics to watch for in the throne speech

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The provincial government is set to deliver its second throne speech this afternoon and it’s expected to share how it plans to make child care more affordable.

Sharon Gregson with the group $10aDay Child Care expects we’ll get a sense of a phased approach to gradually bring the cost of day care down — though not an immediate jump to a $10 a day program.

“What they can do is reduce fees for families, and we’re suggesting by $500 a month for infants and toddlers to start with, and they can put a cap on fees so operators can’t make huge increases,” says Gregson.

Some pundits say it will give us an indication of the strength of the relationship between Premier John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver.

Hamish Telford from the University of the Fraser Valley says Weaver has made it clear he’s willing to bring down the minority government depending on the NDP’s plans for the liquified natural gas industry.

“I’ll be looking to see if there’s any sort of word about LNG development in this throne speech. And if there is, I think all eyes will be on Mr. Weaver to see if this is a speech that he can support. Or will he try and form an alliance with the Liberals and newly elected leader Andrew Wilkinson to bring the government down and thrust us into an early spring election?”

Former NDP strategist Bill Tieleman isn’t as convinced about that possibility.

“I don’t really expect to see much of anything in the throne speech about liquefied natural gas or LNG, not because Andrew Weaver has threatened to bring the government down over it, but because all that’s happened is Premier Horgan has gone to Asia and talked to some of the possible markets there about an LNG plant,” Tieleman.

“It isn’t something the government does. It’s a private sector enterprise decision. They have to decide whether they want to invest based on the LNG market.”

Related article: What may be in BC’s throne speech

Today’s throne speech comes under the cloud of the current trade dispute with Alberta. Telford wonders if the spat over pipelines and wine will come up this afternoon.

“I think what we could look for is some more detail on what Mr. Horgan was thinking about, with respect to bitumen exports out of BC ports. Or is he going to back off that and perhaps offer some conciliatory remarks about the relationship with BC, the federal government and indeed, the rest of Canada.”

Telford adds people want to know how the government plans to cool the housing market and more specifically — what Horgan can do, considering he’s already ruled out banning foreign home buyers.

“One is to extend the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax out from just the GVRD to other parts of the province or, conceivably, the whole province. He might want to strip out the previous Liberal government’s first-time home buyer grant program, which I think has stimulated the market, particularly at the entry level. And that’s where we’ve really seen housing prices go up — it’s been in entry-level condos.”

The group Housing Action for Local Taxpayers is hoping specifically for action to tackle speculation.

“We’d love to see the bare trust loopholes closed out, the loopholes that have been in place for quite some time under the BC Liberal government, particularly around condo presales,” says Fung, who expands on other measures he’d like to see introduced.

“A lot more transparency on beneficial ownership and ultimately the BC Housing Affordability Fund proposal that’s been talked about — an extra property tax surcharge that would be offset by income taxes to really level the playing field for people working, living here and paying their taxes here.”