Premier John Horgan answered questions on many different subjects affecting British Columbians during his media availability today in Victoria.

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Days before he jets off on a trade trip to Asia, Premier John Horgan sounded upbeat as he met with media in Victoria and discussed a range of topics concerning British Columbians.

It’s been roughly six months since the BC NDP Party took power in the province and Horgan anticipates some new challenges in what he calls an “aggressive agenda” in the weeks and months ahead as they unveil their first budget, find out who will be the new leader of the BC Liberal Party and as federal marijuana regulations come into affect.

Here are some of the topics Horgan touched on:

Budget

READ MORE: B.C. Government release 2017 budget update

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of their budget in February.

Trade

Officials will visit China, South Korea and Japan, and talk trade and economic activity before returning to B.C. at the end of the month. Previous trade trips had exclusively focused on LNG, according to Horgan, who says forestry, tourism and manufacturing can be great opportunities.

“We are going to be trying to put our best foot forward to encourage more investment, to encourage more exchange.”

Mobility pricing

READ MORE: How Metro Vancouver could pay for its roads

“Our focus is on affordability for British Columbians, making life easier for people in one of the most expensive jurisdictions in Canada.”

“I don’t want to see inconsistent policies come forward from other jurisdictions. We’ll have to work, of course, with the mayor’s council – there’s new leadership there. Mayor Corrigan is now heading up that organization. We haven’t spoken directly on this initiative, but we will in the future.”

“I want to see what they (Lower Mainland Mayors) come back with and how it fits in with our affordability plan for British Columbians.”

Horgan made note that the province will need to move quickly with whichever decision they choose to meet the deadlines put in place by the federal government. Both the province and the feds are currently in agreement to pay 40 per cent of the cost, while municipalities in the Metro Vancouver area will make up the other 20 per cent.

Marijuana

READ MORE: Province, feds see lots of work ahead of legalization

“My first (federal) minister’s meeting, I was the cavalier kid, the new guy on the block and as other ministers were saying ‘we can’t get this done by July’, I was saying ‘no problem’, because this is British Columbia and we’ve had a long tradition of cannabis consumption and distribution.”

“There are challenges ahead. We want to make sure the public is comfortable that we have in place a system that is fair, that is going to protect public health and is going to ensure that chilldren don’t have easy access to cannabis.

“I made a commitment to the Prime Minister that British Columbia was going to meet the timelines.”

Expensive drugs

READ MORE: Child denied expensive drug for third time

“We can’t have politicians approving drugs for distribution in British Columbia, and I would also add, I think the pharmaceutical sector has some responsibility in this as well.

“I would like to think we as a government can work through pharmacare and through the Federal Government, as well to try and accelerate approvals not just in British Columbia, but Canada, and work with the providers of these pharmaceutical miracles in some families cases to get them into their hands in a more cost effective way.

“I think all British Columbians would think it’s outrageous that a drug that will improve the quality of life a youngster in extreme pain should cost $20,000 per month.”

Highway 14 – Sooke Road

READ MORE: One man is dead after fatal crash on Sooke Road

“The former government asked for a review of the corridor. That review came to me some months ago and it was inadequate, so I asked the (Ministry of Transporation) to go back and look at it again.

“Of course, since then we’ve had another fatality on the Hwy. 14 corridor. We’re going to be making an announcement later in the week on some preliminary steps for safety improvements and there’ll be much more work done in that corridor.”

Housing

READ MORE: Foreign buying in Metro Vancouver pegged at 10 per cent

“I do feel we need to knock back the speculation and make sure we are penalizing that behaviour in the interest of reducing demand and softening prices. That will also be assisted if we bring on more supply, but we have to do both, we have to deal with demand and we have to deal with supply.”

BC Hydro

READ MORE: Rate freeze promised for 2018

“I am now more convinced that ever that the better course of action on affordability is not blanket reductions or freezes, but targeted to those who can best benefit from relief in this area.”

“Those that are seeing significant increases in their hydro bills, if they can’t find power smart ways to reduce those costs, then perhaps relief from the utility or from the province is a way to do that.”

Mount Polly

READ MORE: Mount Polly shares remediation plans

“I think all British Columbians were mortified that three years passed with no consequences to the most horrific mining disaster in B.C. history. I remain concerned and am anxious to hear what the courts have to say.

“There are other action under the fisheries acts that don’t have a statute of limitations, that have far greater penalties for non-compliance. This isn’t the end of justice or consequences for the failure.”



ragnar.haagen@bpdigital.ca

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