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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FORSETH: Some of the so-called ‘help’, in Monday’s Throne Speech, we really could do without

 


Two days have passed since the provincial government gave its Throne Speech –AKA their roadmap to plans for the new legislative session.

Many of you reading this are likely unaware there even was a Throne Speech on Monday; you can be excused for that as it really didn’t contain anything to sit up and take notice of.

And for those who follow politics?  It was a ho-hum yawner – a regurgitation of what a Throne Speech has come to be known as. Worse yet, a friend of mine said that given it was a work of fiction, it should have been given by author Jane Austen rather than BC’s Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin.

Regardless, it acknowledged wrongs of the past and promised to do better. It proudly spoke of a recovery well underway and building a stronger economy. Better healthcare ... protecting the public service ... more help for small business ... and of course a focus to putting the people of BC first (but isn’t that already the job of government?).

On the business front it seems many small business owners, who are barely hanging on, would argue government efforts have been a devastating failure. Thousands of businesses have closed their doors, and many of those doors will never re-open. Promised millions in relief have failed to make it, and now we have the latest effort ... $50 million in so-called “circuit breaker’ relief funds. Time will tell how much of that actually gets where it needs to go.

The Throne Speech specifically mentioned a cut to property taxes for small business, however while announcing a tax break on one side of its mouth, government decided to go ahead with a so-called ‘speculation’ tax for space above businesses where there is nothing but air.  Yes, in case you missed it, it seems government has run out things to tax and is now taxing the air above businesses. I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of ‘help’ small business would happily do without!

And here’s another on the ‘help’ front, that we really could do without.

According to BC’s Lieutenant Governor, Janet Austin, BC’s NDP government plans to re-double their efforts on mental health and addictions. I have to say that one actually scares me, as to date, government efforts have been little more than tragic. Today (April 14th) came these words from the government of Premier John Horgan:

Today, people in every community throughout the province hold sorrow in their hearts for loved ones lost, as we mark the sombre five-year anniversary of British Columbia’s overdose emergency. As we grieve the more than 7,000 people who have died by overdose since the public health emergency began, we reaffirm that we cannot – and will not – allow this tragedy to continue.”

We cannot – and will not – allow this tragedy to continue? The failure of this government to provide the services necessary to slow the tragic deaths of British Columbians continues unabated. The March 2nd report from the BC Coroners Services on deaths from illicit drugs stated:


The 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths represent a 104% increase over the number of deaths in January 2020 (81) and a 7% increase over the number of deaths in December 2020 (154). The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in January 2021 equates to about 5.3 deaths per day.

An unchecked, and alarming, increase in deaths has been allowed to happen as we’ve gone from 236 in 2000 – to 1,724 last year in 2020 -- a seven-and-a-half-fold increase! Government efforts, to date, have been a failure.

The government’s plans for this legislative session also spoke of BC being a fiscal and economic leader in Canada – one of Canada's fastest-growing economies – and having low unemployment rates and steadily rising wages. Despite the challenges, of the last year, our strengths remain.

While the government spoke of having the highest job recovery in Canada, what they failed to acknowledge was the fact that most of those jobs are part-time, and as government itself observed, “... we are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Women have been more likely to lose a job or feel forced out of the workforce.” (On April 9th, 3 days earlier, I noted that women are being left behind when it comes to job creation).

Speaking of jobs, the Throne Speech spoke of investing in the economy and specifically shipbuilding as an area they were eying to support. They plan to speak with the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about having a new ice breaker, for the Coast Guard, built in our province.

While the fast-cat fiasco has never left the minds of many BC residents, the question should be asked, if shipbuilding is so important to the government, why is Europe their favorite port of call for the BC Ferries fleet?

The two newest island class ferries currently in use, and four new ones under construction, come from shipyards in eastern Europe. I guess the governments focus on BC jobs, with their “Community Benefits Agreement”, was forgotten in this instance.

I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what government plans for this session, but the reality is, the Speech from the Throne was little more than flag waving as they let us know what they plan to do, and what they have already done for us (or should that be to us) ... including a reminder of a cut made to BC Hydro rates. They of course failed to mention that rate reduction amounted to a whopping $4.

Stay tuned, BC Budget day is April 20th ... that’s when the money will really start to roll.


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