The future of our province is bright
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
The goals of the government in this session of the BC Legislative Assembly, including improving long-term care homes by hiring more staff and building more hospitals to accommodate everyone.
It is now more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the province and we did a great job handling it compared to the rest of the provinces. Last week, the number of new cases in a day passed 1000 cases for the first time due to the surge of cases caused by the variants of the coronavirus—and this made Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry angry. There were no extreme lockdowns during the pandemic so far which made fewer damages to the BC economy and kept it stable.
The province offered grants to reduce the amount of costs related to the pandemic and keep businesses open which was summarized in the speech from throne read by Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin on April 12. The speech began with Austin addressing the recent passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, that had happened three days earlier before summarizing the progress on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province and the success of the province’s response to the pandemic. Most of the speech was a sneak peek of what will be announced in the BC budget speech which will happen later this month.
Austin then explained the goals of the government in this session of the BC Legislative Assembly, including improving long-term care homes by hiring more staff and building more hospitals to accommodate everyone. These actions would help reduce wait times and remove the limitations that were discovered during the pandemic. The BC government’s commitment to reforming ICBC continues by reducing insurance rates by 20 percent on top of a grant that was offered during the pandemic and continuing the rate freeze that passed savings onto drivers. There will be more funding for infrastructure projects including SkyTrain expansions in Broadway and Langley, the new Pattullo Bridge, and finally building the replacement of the Massey Tunnel.
The pandemic lead to more people using the internet and in turn, towns need better coverage to keep everyone connected and to help small businesses adapt to online shopping through the Launch Online program. Also, the pandemic led to a surge in hate crimes against Asians because of the coronavirus originating in China. To address that, an anti-racism bill will be developed as well as reforming the Police Act. Austin ended the speech by saying that because of how prepared the province was during the pandemic and the initiatives that were made “the future of our province is bright.” The initiatives taken by the province will be explained in further detail during the BC budget speech.
The BC speech from the throne this year is like a summary of the provincial government’s accomplishments during the coronavirus pandemic and a first look at the major announcements that will be made in the budget speech. Despite the fact that the pandemic is not done yet, the province will be even more prepared to address changes in the pandemic and future pandemics.