NDP throne speech says B.C. government will spend surplus as slowdown looms

BC to spend surplus

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.

British Columbia's New Democrat government says it plans to put this year's projected budget surplus of almost $6 billion to work as an economic slowdown looms.

The government's throne speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin in the legislature Monday, outlines a political agenda for the coming months that includes a plan to support people amid rising costs now and in the long term.

But the speech says a global economic slowdown is forecast and B.C. likely won't be in a budget surplus situation for long.

The speech says some people would argue that B.C. should respond to a looming downturn by cutting services and pulling back supports, but that is not the course the government will take at a time when people are still finding their way after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The speech says the government will introduce new legislation this spring covering pay transparency, fighting organized crime and money laundering and outlawing malicious and exploitative non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Premier David Eby is not at the legislature today for what would be his first throne speech since replacing former premier John Horgan, and is instead in Ottawa with other premiers to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to negotiate increased funding for health care.

ORIGINAL 6:40 a.m.

British Columbia's economy will be a key focus for politicians as they return to the legislature for the spring sitting.

Premier David Eby says economists are predicating a "global slowdown and potentially recession" and his government is focused on keeping the economy strong by building trade relationships and supporting businesses.

The session starts with a speech from the throne today, which Eby says will outline the government's key priorities of health care, housing, public safety and the economy.

However, Eby won't be there for the start of the session.

He'll be travelling to Ottawa where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting a first ministers' meeting to try to work out an agreement with the provinces and territories for increased funding for health care.

B.C. house leader Ravi Kahlon says the government has plans to introduce more than two dozen pieces of legislation during the session, which is set to conclude in May.

The government will table its budget at the end of the month.

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