The spring legislative session started Tuesday, February 8th with the government's Speech from the Throne. Throne speeches are government's opportunity to establish priorities for the legislative session. This was the Horgan government's third throne speech since the last election in the fall of 2020 and it provided some insight into what to watch for in government's Economic Plan -- expected sometime next week -- and the budget -- which will be delivered on February 22.
Some of the highlights from the speech that are most relevant to BCGEU members included:
- A recommitment to implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) through an Action Plan and a Reconciliation Secretariat that are expected to be announced in detail in the coming months. Our union will work closely with members impacted by the implementation of the action plan as details are revealed.
- A commitment to separate the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) into two ministries in the coming months. The government's plan is to have one ministry charged with stewardship of BC's lands and resources and to link that work to the implementation of DRIPA. We expect to learn more details about the new ministry in the budget and, again, we will be working closely to support and advocate for BCGEU members through the transition.
- A plan to review and renew key parts of BC's healthcare system by working with other provinces and Ottawa to secure an increase to the Canada Health Transfer. This initiative has the potential to impact BCGEU members working throughout the healthcare system and our union will be monitoring the government's efforts in this area to ensure members are informed, engaged and supported through any changes that result.
- A commitment to continue work to modernize the Royal BC Museum. BCGEU members were front and centre in initiating this process and they have been deeply involved in every step of the renewal. We are proud of what they have achieved and our union will continue to support these members as this important work moves forward.
- A commitment to move responsibility for child care into the Ministry of Education in 2022 and manage child care programs through new regional offices. We expect to hear more details in the budget. This is part of government's multi-year ChildCare BC strategy, which is built on sector-wide changes that BCGEU members have advocated for for years. The BCGEU supports and applauds government for recognizing that child care workers are educators and we understand this move will impact many members working in front line child care as well as ministry positions. Our union will work closely with all impacted members to ensure a smooth transition.
You can read/watch the speech here.
We look forward to hearing more details about government's plans in next week's announcement of the Economic Plan as well as the budget release the week after. We will provide an analysis of both.
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