B.C. Premier Christy Clark surprised delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention convention Friday with several major election-style announcements during her speech, including a contract deal with the province's biggest public employees' union.

Clark announced a tentative contract with the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union in her address to the 1,500 delegates gathered in Victoria for the annual UBCM meeting.

After Clark's speech, BCGEU president Darryl Walker confirmed the tentative deal gives the 26,000 government workers a four-per-cent wage increase over two years.

The wage increase was funded from savings found within existing budgets, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance during Clark's speech.

As part of the agreement, the statement said the government's proposal to privatize liquor distribution had been cancelled.

New Massey Tunnel and Trans Canada upgrade

During her speech Clark made several election-style promises, including plans to:

  • Replace the George Massey Tunnel under the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta, south of Vancouver, within the next 10 years.
  • Spend a half-billion dollars to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway to four lanes the entire distance from Kamloops to the Alberta border.
  • Spend $207 million on transportation, housing, road, health and school projects across B.C.

Clark also told the convention she would be meeting with Alberta Premier Alison Redford to discuss her concerns with the Northern Gateway Pipeline project next week, but that no amount of money can make up for an unacceptable environmental risk.

On Thursday convention delegates narrowly passed a controversial resolution rejecting the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C. coastal waters.

Clark wrapped up her speech by-reaffirming her government's commitment to the province's balanced budget legislation, an apparent jab at NDP leader Adrian Dix who said yesterday he would likely repeal the legislation if he wins the upcoming May provincial election.