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B.C. government vows 10-year plans for skills training, transportation

Lt. Governor Judith Guichon
Lt. Governor Judith Guichon's ceremonial duties include reading the Speech from the Throne, to set out the government's agenda for the coming year.
— image credit: Black Press files

VICTORIA – In a speech from the throne that echoed Premier Christy Clark's election campaign,  the B.C. government promised Tuesday to begin a 10-year skills training plan to drive industrial development.

Lt. Governor Judith Guichon read the speech in the ceremonial beginning of the B.C. legislature session. It touched on the B.C. Liberal government's familiar themes, including the need to train and retain citizens to fill one million jobs due to growth and baby boomer retirements in the next decade.

"British Columbians can look forward to enhancements to the Industry Training Authority, as well as the re-engineering of our secondary and post-secondary institutions to ensure our students have the skills for the jobs of the future," Guichon told MLAs gathered for the first time in 2014.

Employers and job seekers will be watching for details in the provincial budget, to be presented by Finance Minister Mike de Jong on Feb. 18. Opposition critics have focused on the government's reductions of skills training and the shortage of spaces and equipment for industrial training.

The speech also promises a new 10-year plan for transportation, to build on major road, bridge and transit works that have become contentious in the Lower Mainland as it struggles to keep up with population growth.

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Clark emphatically denied the conclusion of a B.C. Supreme Court justice that her government engineered the 2012 teacher strike to build public support for an imposed settlement.

NDP leader Adrian Dix called the speech "particularly lacking in vision or substance," adding that it contains nothing for B.C. residents who "don't work in the industries of liquefied natural gas or liquor."

In addition to touting the future benefits of LNG exports and pending liquor law reforms, the speech recounts increases in Asian trade, the ongoing "core review" to reduce provincial spending, and new union agreements that tie wage increases to an expanded economy.

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