B.C. Finance Minister Carole James visits a Victoria daycare on the eve of her first budget, Feb. 19, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

NDP’s first budget to set spending record for housing, child care

Premier John Horgan promises biggest investments in B.C. history

The B.C. NDP government’s first budget will include “the largest investments in housing and child care in B.C.’s history,” Premier John Horgan says.

Finance Minister Carole James visited a Victoria daycare centre Monday, but didn’t add much detail to Horgan’s forecast. James said the budget she will unveil Tuesday contains the first steps in a 10-year plan to develop universal child care across the province.

James declined to comment on the NDP’s campaign commitment last year to deliver a $10-a-day child care system, which both she and Horgan have downplayed since forming a minority government supported by three B.C. Green MLAs last summer.

RELATED: Child care advocates question NDP’s commitment

James said she dispensed with the traditional finance minister’s ritual of buying a new pair of budget shoes, and will wear old shoes shined by her husband. She read a story at the daycare about a cat that keeps walking after getting its white shoes stained with different colours.

“I wanted to make sure I did something that reminded us what the budget is really about,” she said.

In a pre-budget video posted on the weekend, Horgan also promised the budget will contain additional measures to deal with housing prices. In last week’s throne speech, the government committed to deal with speculation in the housing market, empty homes and the shortage of rental housing.

“Businesses cannot grow when the skilled workers they need are shut out by the high cost of housing,” the throne speech noted. “Renters are afraid of eviction or unexpected rent increases that will force them to relocate when prices are sky high and vacancies hover at record lows.”

Horgan also referred to the ongoing dispute with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley over his opposition to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. He promised to “protect our wine industry from unfair trade practices being brought on us by the government of Alberta,” and continue trying to prevent the project from moving ahead despite federal and provincial approvals.

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