«The Honourable Iona Campagnolo Lieutenant-Governor — at the — Opening of the Third Session, Thirty-Eighth Parliament — of the — Province of ...»
Changes will be developed to existing funding and transfer payments to ensure integrated regional transportation and housing planning.
We will encourage local government to exempt small-unit, supportive housing projects from development cost charges and levies.
— 26 — A new assessment class and new tax exemptions for small-unit, supportive housing will be developed over the next year for this legislature’s consideration.
This government wishes to add to housing stock while reducing housing costs and reducing the environmental footprint of sprawling communities.
Urban sprawl puts pressure on our limited land base and increases servicing costs for property taxpayers for new roads, bridges, and rapid transit; for sewage and water services; and for increased energy and transmission.
Larger lots, larger homes, excessive fees, and longer time frames have pushed home prices beyond the economic reach of too many. Economic costs have increased and so have environmental ones.
Working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the private sector the government will develop new incentives to encourage smaller lot sizes and smaller, more energy eﬃcient homes that use less land, less energy, less water, and are less expensive to own.
Our communities should be places where women, children, and seniors can safely walk the streets.
Changes to make police ﬁnancing equitable for smaller communities with fewer than 5,000 residents will be introduced this session.
Our communities should be places where children are cared for and are safe.
— 27 — Further improvements to the Child, Family and Community Service Act will be introduced this session.
Your government will introduce legislation to end mandatory retirement as recommended by the Premier’s Council on Aging and Seniors’ Issues.
YOUR GOVERNMENT’S FOCUS ON IMPROVING
AND PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH CARE WILLCONTINUE The Conversation on Health is now well underway.
It will guide future improvements.
The new First Nations Health Plan was a major milestone that will improve health determinants, health delivery, and health outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Major new initiatives in health promotion are underway.
The ActNow BC program is making progress in fostering greater physical activity, healthier eating habits, and tobacco reduction.
The Action Schools! BC program is spreading into our classrooms across the province to promote healthy living among our students.
Your government is eliminating junk food in all public schools and in all vending machines in provincially owned buildings.
— 28 — The School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program is in 50 schools this year and will be available to every public school by 2010.
New measures are being taken to reduce tobacco use.
New supports are being oﬀered to persons on income assistance to help kick their smoking habit.
Legislation will be introduced this session to ban smoking on all school property.
Smoking will be phased out in all indoor public spaces by 2008.
As well as health promotion, new services will be added.
A new electronic surgical patient registry will give patients more control over their surgical options, improve public reporting of wait times, and enable better surgical treatment planning.
A new electronic medical records system will be launched to give physicians better access to patient records and improve service to patients.
The BC HealthGuide will be available in Punjabi and Chinese, to give families in those communities better access to health information in their mother language.
— 29 — Despite eﬃciency gains, new funding, and increased service levels attained in the last ﬁve years, challenges in health delivery remain.
The demand for new services, technologies, drugs, and treatments continues to grow faster than our ability to pay for them.
The demand for more nurses, doctors, and other health providers grows faster than our capacity to hire and train them.
Insatiable demands for more funding in health care have gone past the tipping point.
Left unchecked, those demands will see our public health care system reach the breaking point, not in decades, but in a matter of years.
Health funding will be increased once again in the new ﬁscal year by an additional $885 million.
Overall health spending will have grown by 51.8 per cent since the year 2000 — or about four times the rate of inﬂation in that period.
Next year’s increase in health funding will be 7.3 per cent — twice the rate of economic growth and over three times the current rate of inﬂation.
Yet the pressures on our health care system continue to escalate.
We must face up to that reality and do what is necessary to make our health care system sustainable for the future.
— 30 — Your government will continue to listen and learn from British Columbians, to innovate, and to explore new ways of delivering better health services.
And it will lead fundamental health reforms that increase individual choice and maximize the supply of health services within the budgets available.
This will not be easy.
It will not come without controversy or change.
This government is determined to put our public health care system on a footing that ensures sustainability.
The most eﬀective health promotion strategy we have discovered to date is education and individual action.
THIS GOVERNMENT IS DETERMINED TO MAKE
B.C. THE BEST EDUCATED, MOST LITERATE
JURISDICTION ON THE CONTINENTChanges passed last year in this Assembly to reduce class sizes, increase accountability, and give parents a new role in class planning are paying oﬀ.
For the ﬁrst time, all school districts are required to publicly report their class sizes, class by class and school by school.
For the ﬁrst time, they are being held legally accountable for legislated class size and composition requirements.
— 31 — Here are the results.
There are now over 1,000 more classes in our schools than there were last year, with over 12,000 fewer enrolled students.
In every single district across B.C. average class sizes have dropped this past year.
In every applicable grade, the number of classes with more than 30 students declined.
On average, the number of classes with over 30 students in Grades 4 to 12 declined by 65 per cent.
Parents, teachers and school boards should all be proud of that achievement.
The student-teacher ratio is now as low as it has ever been in British Columbia.
The number of classes across B.C. with two or more ESL students has gone down in the last year.
These are positive trends.
Student completion rates have gone up over the past ﬁve years.
However, one in ﬁve students does not complete, and over half of B.C.’s Aboriginal students do not complete their studies.
We need to improve to meet the needs of students who are failing to complete.
These reforms will be focused on improving quality, choice, and accountability.
British Columbians know that as good as our education system is, it can and must be even better.
Teachers certainly know that.
Your government will act to give teachers new recognition and ﬁnancial incentives to reward improvements in student achievement and promote professional development.
Teachers will be oﬀered voluntary leadership certiﬁcation, new resources, professional development, and online supports.
A Premier’s Award For Teaching Excellence will also be established to annually recognize and reward excellence in teaching.
New legislation will be introduced to broaden the
mandate of school boards, as reﬂected in a new title:
Boards of Education.
Amendments to the School Act will also be introduced to enable boards to oﬀer “special academies” upon the approval of school planning councils and consultation with parents.
— 33 — Boards will be authorized to charge fees approved by school planning councils to defray non-instructional costs or additional costs incurred in oﬀering special academies, trades programs, and band instruments.
This measure will give boards the tools they need to oﬀer students access to programs that might otherwise be closed as a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling.
Boards of Education will also be given a new opportunity to provide early learning programs to preschoolers.
Up to 80 StrongStart Centres will open in underutilized school spaces over the next year. They will help our youngest students to enter school ready to learn.
Boards of Education will be required to develop district literacy plans to improve literacy. They will help co-ordinate literacy initiatives in their communities.
The new ReadNow BC program will provide $27 million in initial funding to help British Columbians improve their reading skills.
The role of district superintendents will be expanded to be responsible to boards for improving student achievement.
New provincial Superintendents of Achievement will be appointed by the Province to report and make recommendations on improving student achievement in school districts.
— 34 — New “sunshine legislation” will shed new light on school district companies’ business practices. New public reporting and auditing requirements, and new obligations for their directors to be at arm’s length from parent boards, will be established.
More choice and ﬂexibility will be encouraged to better meet student needs.
The Graduation Portfolio Standard will be simpliﬁed to focus on physical activity, career planning, and community service.
While the Province will set standards for meeting graduation requirements, Boards of Education will determine the most appropriate learning and instruction methods for meeting provincial standards in their districts, including whether or not to oﬀer a portfolio program.
Amendments will be introduced to broaden the Education Minister’s capacity to create provincial schools and oﬀer more choice in learning.
Provincial schools will oﬀer new choices in curricula, new course content, and new demonstration schools better tailored to unique student needs.
These new provincial schools will build on the virtual school that is now serving over 16,000 students provincewide.
The virtual school is providing new round-the-clock access to learning, tutoring, and academic supports.
— 35 — These new measures will be supported in a new B.C.
Education Guarantee that assures that all students have ongoing access to courses required for high school completion and that all British Columbians who need it have free, easy access to adult basic education through LearnNowBC.
This year the government will:
Ensure new residents can obtain support in ESL training and streamlined professional and skilled labour certiﬁcation, to help them use the skills they bring to B.C.;
Establish a teacher employment registry, administered by the College of Teachers, to publicly report the names of teachers disciplined for misconduct involving emotional, physical, or sexual abuse;
Require annual public reports for all public schools on the statistics relating to teacher hirings, terminations, disciplinary actions, and professional development;
And give government the ability to directly communicate with all teachers in B.C.
Amendments will be introduced to require all Boards of Education to establish codes of conduct for students that meet provincially set standards and that institute “zero tolerance” of bullying in B.C.’s schools.
— 36 — Your government pledged to use underutilized school spaces as public spaces to deliver on public priorities.
It will work with boards to better manage capital planning across all school districts.
A new process will be put in place to ensure that schools or school lands are used for their highest and best use for maximum public beneﬁt.
THE GOVERNMENT WILL OPEN CANADA’S
PACIFIC GATEWAY TO NEW WORLDS OF
KNOWLEDGE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITYKnowledge is the key to unlocking our citizens’ true potential in the digital world.
Skilled workers are the sine qua non of a modern, competitive economy.
That is why your government has embarked on the largest post-secondary and apprenticeship expansion in 40 years.
It is why it is acting to create 2,500 new graduate spaces and 7,000 more apprenticeship spaces by 2010.
It is why it is expanding the number of industry training organizations in partnership with the Industry Training Authority and the private sector.
Across this province, access to advanced education is better than ever.
— 37 — Over $1 billion has been invested in capital improvements in post-secondary education since 2001.
Another $800 million has been allocated to further expand our universities, colleges, and institutes.
The 25,000 new post-secondary spaces are well underway.
That new legacy of leadership will give B.C.’s young adults and lifelong learners new opportunities for higher learning where they live.
This year a new Children’s Education Credit will be established and a new Paciﬁc Leaders Fellowship will be created to provide university students new ﬁnancial incentives to pursue careers in the provincial public service.
It will also provide existing public servants new opportunities to upgrade their skills.
Campus 2020 will help shape the vision of B.C.’s post-secondary system for years to come.
As your government works to train new workers and give them the skills they need to prosper in this Paciﬁc Century, it will also do more to attract and recruit skilled workers.
The Provincial Nominee Program will be substantially expanded and new eﬀorts will be made to expedite entry for temporary workers in skills-shortage areas.
— 38 — All of these measures are aimed at maximizing our provincial potential in this time of profound change and global growth.