B.C. throne speech outlines housing, health care, community safety as 2024 budget priorities

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As expected, the throne speech delivered by B.C. Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin focused heavily on the province’s future housing goals.

In her speech, delivered Tuesday afternoon, Austin began by emphasizing the actions government is taking, and will continue to take, to boost the number of middle-class homes available in the province.

Programs like BC Builds were touted as a way the government is reportedly taking underused land, grant money and low-cost financing to lower the cost of construction. On Tuesday, the federal government announced it would invest $2 billion in additional financing into the program, on top of the $2 billion announced by the province last week.

Austin also highlighted expanding infrastructure the province is building to accompany the growing housing supply, including projects that are set to increase the region’s SkyTrain network by 27 per cent.

Other priorities outlined in the throne speech included public health care, such as the addition of hundreds of new doctors and thousands of new nurses in the province in the last year.

Austin also referred to the medical school being built at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, which will be the first new medical school in Western Canada in more than 50 years.

She also alluded to actions the government will continue to take to build on its ten-year cancer plan.

Relieving cost-of-living for British Columbians and leveraging B.C.’s natural resource sector were also mentioned as areas where action will be taken in the upcoming budget, set to be announced Thursday.

Austin gave BC Hydro as an example, as it attempts to expand B.C.’s electricity system, and the new E-One Moli facility in Maple Ridge where battery production will be ramping up in the province.

References were also made to the government’s plan to manage the droughts and wildfires continuing to plague B.C.’s warmer seasons.

“The climate crisis is here, we have seen it all around us these last few years,” she said.

Austin said the province will take action this session to “reduce carbon pollution from big industrial emitters.”

Finally, community safety — specifically children’s safety — and partnerships with local First Nations across multiple sectors of government were brought forward as areas to be acted upon this session.

The provincial government says it expects to pass at least 20 pieces of legislation this session.

The provincial election is slated for Oct. 19.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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