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British Columbia Government Promises Action Against Ticket Dealers, Payday Loans In Speech From The Throne

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Promises to make housing, loans and even cell phone plans more affordable for ordinary British Columbians are among the highlights of this year’s Speech from the Throne.

Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin opened the spring session of the Legislature on Tuesday afternoon setting out the minority government’s priorities for 2019, promising affordable housing and child care measures, as well as the first strategy to reduce child care. the poverty of British Columbia.

The speech also includes promises of stronger protections for consumers, such as better monitoring of payday lending practices, new rules for the sale of concert tickets and more transparency in cell phone billing.

“Affordability remains the biggest challenge facing families in British Columbia. Many people have two or three jobs, travel further for work, and spend less time with their families, just to make ends meet. But no matter how hard they work, they just can’t seem to get ahead, ”Austin said.

The province promises to speed up development permit approval processes, so affordable rental housing can be built faster and to address the recommendations of the Rental Housing Task Force.

“Too many families are faced with the impossible choice between a home that meets their needs, paying for child care expenses or getting groceries for their family,” Austin said.

His speech indicates that the province will begin the process of drafting a law this year guaranteeing universal and affordable child care.

Action on scalpers, unfair payday loans

Some of the consumer protection measures contained in the speech include a cap on fees for cashing government checks, a ban on software that allows scalpers to buy large numbers of concert and event tickets, and a legislative review. billing practices for mobile telephone plans.

Premier John Horgan addresses reporters after the Speech from the Throne at the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria. (Mike Mcarthur / CBC News)

On the controversial issue of money laundering in BC casinos and real estate, the government promises to close the loopholes and hold criminals accountable.

“British Columbians are rightly outraged by the possibility that unacceptable house prices in our province are being fueled by the proceeds of crime, both at home and abroad,” said Austin.

The speech also includes a pledge that British Columbia will be the first province in Canada to introduce legislation implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a pledge to continue to deal with the growing losses in the country. ICBC.

Public confidence “shaken”

The Lieutenant Governor’s speech ended with a nod to the spending scandal currently unfolding in the Legislature, where the suspended Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms are accused of gross embezzlement of public funds.

Austin said the strength of the legislature relies on public confidence, but “that confidence has recently been shaken.” The government is committed to introducing reforms that will help restore public confidence.

In a press release, Premier John Horgan said the province’s initiatives have already put more money in people’s pockets by freezing ferry fares on major routes and phasing out MSP bonuses, between other measures.

“We are on the road to better health care for patients, quality care for the elderly, better schools for our children, more opportunities for young people and good jobs with good wages in every region.” , Horgan said.

The opposition reacts

British Columbia Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the speech did not do enough to address the economic hardships faced by people with multiple jobs.

“This is a government that is running out of gas,” Wilkinson said. “They took 20 minutes to mention the word ‘jobs’.”

Wilkinson pointed to what he called “token” initiatives, like reducing the cost of concert tickets and cell phone bills, which he said fall under federal jurisdiction.

“We are seriously concerned because there are a lot of economic storm clouds on the horizon,” Wilkinson said.

In response to the Speech from the Throne, BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the government was “out of gas.” (Mike Mcarthur / CBC News)

Gerald Baier, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, said it was a “stay the course” Speech from the Throne without any major new political announcements.

Instead, the government is committed to continuing to make progress on existing priorities.

“From a government perspective, they want to appear to be governing and doing so in a very stable and not particularly drastic way,” Baier said.

Baier believes more specific initiatives will be included in the budget, which will be announced by Finance Minister Carole James next Tuesday.

Weather impact ceremony

Tuesday’s ceremony had to be reduced due to a snowstorm.

The usual military honor guard, ceremonial cannon salutes and a performance by the nearby Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Marching Band will not take place due to the weather.

Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne ceremony was reduced due to winter weather in Victoria. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Chad Hipolito)

Austin took note of the weather when she went to the Legislature on Tuesday morning to officially end the last session before the Speech from the Throne.

“It’s wonderful to see you here on this crazy, snowy, but actually very beautiful day,” she told members of the Legislative Assembly.