Premier Gordon Campbell's pre-election plans for B.C.

The following are the B.C. Liberal government's plans, as outlined in its speech from the throne and described in a press release issued today (February 16) by the office of Premier Gordon Campbell:

Harnessing B.C.’s Resource Potential to Create Jobs and Support Families

· Working in partnership with the federal government, B.C. will work to maintain existing pension bridging and tuition assistance programs now available to forest workers and extend those programs to other resource families facing similar difficulties.

· A new Wood Innovation and Design Centre will be established in Prince George and affiliated with UNBC.

· B.C. will open up a massive new market in China and will market wood-based in-fill and partition wall construction.

· A new Commercial Forest Reserve in B.C. will ensure harvested lands remain protected as a forest asset.

· Government will work to help commercialize biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol production that turns wood waste into clean fuel.

· New legislation will require wood as the primary building material in all new publicly owned and provincially funded buildings, consistent with the new BC Building Code.

· British Columbia will also push for a new Canadian “wood first” policy that can create new domestic demand for Canadian wood products.

· B.C. will pursue reciprocal arrangements and equivalency agreements to allow one thorough, comprehensive and scientific environmental assessment for one project.

· The Province will set an integrated, expanded transmission plan that encourages small-scale power projects, economic opportunity and jobs throughout B.C. by year end.

· New investments will be made in carbon-sequestration technology.

· Government will pursue a major expansion in electrical transmission capacity that will create thousands of new construction jobs and reduce energy loss through transmission.

· Government will work to expand transmission capacity along Highway 37 to open mining and energy opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

· The goal of a Northeast Transmission Line will be pursued to fuel energy development and reduce greenhouse gases.

· British Columbia will build on its competitive advantage as a global leader in clean engine technologies through a new commercial vehicle program that will help to create cleaner air, lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower costs, create jobs in research, development and manufacturing.

New Support and Opportunities for British Columbians

· Previously-budgeted increases for health and education will be protected.

· 90 per cent of all budgeted new operating spending in the next three years will go to health care.

· Government will increase K-12 education funding in spite of falling school-age populations.

· Funding for advanced education will be increased. New capital investments will create jobs and provide essential upgrades and new space for B.C.’s colleges and universities, in partnership with the federal government.

· A new law school will be opened at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops in collaboration with the University of Calgary.

· Enabling legislation will be developed this year, so that B.C.’s new pension plan is up and running by Canada Day, 2010.

· This government is working with First Nations to develop a Recognition and Reconciliation Act that will establish a new statutory framework to further the implementation of the New Relationship. It will acknowledge, and place in a provincial statutory context, that Indigenous people have long lived throughout British Columbia and that this fact does not require proof. It will recognize constitutionally established Aboriginal rights and title, and will facilitate partnerships and prosperity through shared decision making and revenue sharing. It will guide the conduct of the Crown and the relationship of Indigenous Nations and the Crown. It will also create process certainty for third parties and Indigenous Nations as they pursue economic development.

· The Province will expand supportive housing to combat homelessness and to shelter those with mental illnesses. That housing will be supported by a new integrated, personalized homelessness intervention strategy and a new community safety strategy.

Creating Jobs in the New World Economy

· B.C. has identified $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects that might be accelerated over the next three years and has submitted proposals for nearly 400 projects to the federal government for cost-sharing. A further $10.6 billion in approved capital projects are scheduled for construction in the next three years and an additional $1.4 billion worth of local infrastructure projects will also be built. Work will be accelerated on key transportation corridors, including the Cariboo Connector, improvements to Highway 3, Highway 16, Highway 97, the Pine Pass, Kicking Horse Canyon and the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the border.

· That represents a total of $14 billion in new and ongoing public capital construction and 88,000 jobs throughout the province.

· Government will accelerate research investments this year in cancer, life sciences, cleaner energy technologies, and biotechnology.

· Working with the federal government, B.C. will invest in renovating, retrofitting and upgrading existing buildings to make them more energy efficient, healthier and safer.

· The Province will help local governments access new funding to upgrade their infrastructure, and to capitalize on new funding for recreation facilities and flood prevention.

· New legislation will be introduced this spring to advance the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement and achieve true labour mobility for all Canadians wanting to work in British Columbia.

· B.C. will pursue with the federal government a new Pacific Ports Authority, the expansion of a new northern transportation hub in Prince George, and the phase two expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert.

· Government will work with the Union of B.C. Municipalities to develop new legislation over the summer, for introduction early next year, which will protect provincial tax reductions, to help ensure that provincial tax relief is not negated by local property tax hikes.

· The Province will act to expand the job and investment opportunities associated with the International Financial Centre.

· The B.C. government will host a first-ever joint cabinet meeting with Alberta and Saskatchewan in March that will focus on strengthening strategic partnerships and open new opportunities across the West.

· B.C. will organize the Cross Border Summit in Penticton this summer, bringing together political leaders and business representatives from both sides of the Canada/U.S. border to highlight the importance of our trade relationship and the opportunities for freer trade.

· A first annual Leaders’ Forum in California will launch a new vision for sustainable regional growth focused on clean energy; transportation; collaborative research; development and innovation; protecting our oceans; harmonization of technical standards; and public-private partnerships.

· An Open Skies Summit will be held this September at the new Vancouver Convention Centre, inviting governments, international airlines, airport managers and businesses from across Canada and around the world. The summit will pursue airlines’ right to service new routes that open up the province and regional economies in the North, the Okanagan, the Kootenays and the Island.