Surrey Board of Trade Optimistic About BC Throne Speech but Wants a Tax Review

On February 6, the BC Government’s Lieutenant Governor issued the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the 4th session of the 42nd parliament.

“The speech made it clear that the BC Government will prioritize people, healthcare, and housing,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “We are encouraged to see that the government will focus on skills-training, public safety, infrastructure investments, and climate change. We are urging the Provincial Government to commit to a tax review to ensure that the business community’s tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.”

“While we wait for the details, we are hopeful that the priorities will result in relatively positive results for the business community as well. We have highlighted some concerns with the potential legislation and policy changes that are going to come as well.”

Our response to the priorities listed in Lieutenant Governor’s speech is indicated in italics below.

1.     Build on historic investments in saving lives with further expansion of treatment and recovery services, so more people can access care. – The Surrey Board of Trade would like to see more investments in Surrey’s infrastructure related to this.
2.     Introduction of legislation: Future Ready. A skills‑training action plan to make education and training more accessible, affordable, and relevant to help prepare British Columbians for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Surrey Board of Trade supports the reskilling and upskilling of our workforce to alleviate the pressure of labour shortages facing businesses. This action plan should be consistent with industry needs.
3.     Trade missions to emerging markets a priority. – The Surrey Board of Trade’s International Trade Centre is Surrey’s premier international concierge centre. The Surrey Board of Trade asks that more funding be directed to Surrey.
4.     Legislation will improve access to electric vehicle charging stations in condo buildings. – This needs to be done with cost of living in mind as having charging stations at the developer’s expense will invariably increase consumer costs.
5.     A New Emergency and Disaster Management Act will be introduced to better improve BC’s ability to respond and recover from whatever might be in store. – There needs to be coordination with the business community as there are many assets that can be utilized in the case of an emergency. Additionally, there is no hospital for Surrey if a bridge or tunnel is compromised to provide emergency services for heart attacks, stroke, or trauma.
6.     New investments to improve public health care and deliver more housing for middle‑class families. – The Surrey Board of Trade supports this initiative.
7.     Build the hospitals, schools, childcare centres, roads, and public transit that make us stronger. – The investments should consider the needs of the business community as well – Surrey is specifically underfunded when it comes to these public sector investments. We note that private childcare sectors have been neglected and urge the BC Government to reconsider.
8.     New measures to address the cost of living, especially for those most vulnerable. – Any cost to address these issues should not be borne by the business community.
9.     New pay transparency legislation will be introduced, a critical tool to shine a light on gender pay gaps and move closer to equal pay for equal work. – The Surrey Board of Trade supports this initiative.
10.  Major new investments to increase housing and services near public transit hubs around the province. It will also launch a refreshed housing strategy. In the Fall session – after working with local governments, homebuilders and communities – new laws will be introduced to turn that strategy into new affordable home. – The Surrey Board of Trade supports these initiatives.
11.  As part of its Safer Communities Action Plan, the government is implementing new response teams to track, arrest and jail repeat violent offenders. These teams are made up of police, dedicated prosecutors, and probation officers. It is investing to ensure the RCMP can operate to its full capacity to keep people safe, particularly in rural British Columbia. – The Surrey Board of Trade supports these initiatives.

Read the full throne speech here


Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342,