The Government of British Columbia’s Priorities for 2021
On April 13, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Janet Austin, delivered the government’s annual Speech from the Throne and, a week later, British Columbia’s Finance Minister, Selina Robinson, presented the annual provincial budget. Both documents lay out the government’s priorities for the legislative year.
In their Speech from the Throne and budget, the NDP government re-committed themselves to the pragmatic style of government that has characterized their administration over the past four years. It is clear that the provincial government and Christians prioritize very different issues.
There were no announcements in the Speech from the Thone or the budget regarding moral issues – abortion, euthanasia, sexual orientation, or gender identity – of particular concern to Christians. Although tangential references to key institutions – the church, independent schools, and the family – were made in the speech and budget, no new policies affecting these institutions were announced either.
Instead, the provincial government is focusing on the COVID-19 economic recovery and efforts to make life more affordable for British Columbians. The throne speech and budget referenced taglines like “helping all British Columbians get ahead” and “making sure that no one is left behind” in their economic strategy.
In its budget, the province anticipates a deficit of $9.7 billion this year (compared to an $8.1 billion deficit last year), spending $1.14 per dollar of revenue generated. The government forecasts that it will not return to a balanced budget for another seven to nine years. Using a more generous measure of fiscal responsibility, the debt-to-GDP ratio, the government is anticipating that the province’s debt will continue to grow faster than the overall economy in each year for which they have projections (until 2024).
Not only does the prioritization of issues reflect the government’s worldview, but also their choice of words. At one point in the throne speech, the Lieutenant Governor mentioned that the homeless were the “most vulnerable among us.” Although Christians certainly agree that those without adequate housing are a vulnerable population, we might list the pre-born or those who are being pressured to commit assisted suicide as the most vulnerable in our society. The arts, rather than the Church, are identified as the “soul of our communities.” Businesses “move heaven and earth” to keep supply chains open, rather than the providence of God. The Finance Minister recalled a saying from her grandfather, “If you don’t have good health, you don’t have anything,” oblivious to the fact that Christians have everything in our LORD and Savior.
In light of this lacklustre throne speech and budget, let us continue to be a Christian witness to our elected officials. After a historic election, many Christians throughout British Columbia, particularly in the Fraser Valley, are represented by new MLAs. Continue to build a relationship with your MLA, pray for them, and do your best to make them aware that moral issues are also political issues.