British Columbia

More policy promises from premier on eve of throne speech

Christy Clark is pledging $1 billion in child care ahead of Thursday's throne speech. The NDP and Greens are criticizing the premier's promises, accusing the Liberals of copying their party platforms.

Christy Clark pledges $1 billion for new child care spaces ahead of Thursday's speech from throne

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark receives high fives prior to addressing a gathering in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Christy Clark appears to have taken a page out of the NDP and Green playbooks with a new promise that will be detailed in Thursday's throne speech in Victoria.

The premier outlined a $1 billion investment in child care to create 60,000 new affordable spaces over four years, in addition to the 13,000 already pledged by the B.C. Liberals.

Clark also vowed to provide full family subsidies for households making less than $60,000 a year, and partial subsidies for those earning between $60,000 and $100,000.

The program would include 4,000 new bursaries and grants for early childhood educators as well. 

"It's the biggest investment anybody has ever made in one shot in child care in the province," said Clark at a women's luncheon in Vancouver on Wednesday.

When asked how her party plans to pay for it, Clark said the province is seeing a bigger-than-expected surplus this year.

"What that tells me is that the economy has grown even faster than any of us predicted," she said. "This is now money we can put to work in British Columbia."

Clark also hinted at a poverty-reduction plan and improved mental health services, and vowed her party would formally run on these new promises if another election is triggered.

They were not part of her party's May 9 election platform — but when asked whether she regretted not running on those points, Clark answered, "I'm looking forward, not backward."

Christy Clark speaks to reporters on June 21, 2017, after announcing a major child care investment that will be detailed in Thursday's throne speech. (Tanya Fletcher / CBC)

Familiar policies

Clark's new promises follow others pledges she made this week to increase welfare payments and ban corporate and union political donations.

She emphasized the Liberal plan is a direct answer to what British Columbians have been asking for.

"It includes the best ideas from all parties," Clark said. "So I'm hopeful that, in the interest of stability, we can find a way for everybody to vote for it."

But the promises aren't enough to sway the leaders of the NDP or Greens.

"Looks like we are going to have an NDP throne speech," said NDP Leader John Horgan, before meeting with his caucus in Victoria.

"The best policies have been put forward by the NDP time and time again for a decade and have been rejected by the Liberals."

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver also responded, saying that while he appreciates the Liberals borrowing Green policies, the party still won't support Clark's throne speech.

"You can say whatever you want in a throne speech, they can say they will promise unicorns — they have done that already with LNG," said Weaver. In the 2013 provincial campaign, Clark's Liberals promised that liquefied natural gas would produce thousands of jobs in B.C., a promise that has so far failed to materialize.

The throne speech will be read by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon on Thursday at 2 p.m. PT.

With files from Richard Zussman