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Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin delivers the throne speech at the legislature in Victoria, on Feb. 6.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

The British Columbia government expects its finances to take a downturn in the coming year but it will not slow down on new spending, it says in a new Speech from the Throne.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we face big choices to ensure security for you and your family in the face of likely economic storms,” says the speech, read by Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin on Monday.

In its last budget update in November, B.C. forecast a $5.7-billion surplus for the fiscal year that ends in March, triggering a fast-paced spending spree as Premier David Eby’s New Democratic Party government aimed to burn through funds that would otherwise be reserved for paying down the debt. That included a one-time “affordability” tax credit, and a $500-million Rental Protection Fund.

While the Eby government expects a downturn in revenues rather than another windfall, it says this is not the time to cut back on programs and supports.

“Economists are predicting a global slow down. Because we are a province that thrives on export and international relationships, this year’s surplus won’t be there next year,” the Throne Speech says.

The budget to be introduced at the end of February “will make record new investments to improve public health care and deliver more housing for middle-class families. It will ensure we build the hospitals, schools, child care centres, roads and public transit that make us stronger. It will introduce new measures to address the cost of living, especially for those most vulnerable.”

The Throne Speech also acknowledges public anxiety about inflation, public safety and an overburdened health care system.

“By far the biggest source of anxiety for people right now is the rising cost of living,” Ms. Austin read. Without specifics, the province suggests additional relief is coming: “Your government will keep working to help people with new measures targeted to those who need it most, including people with lower incomes and families with children.”

To address the toxic drug crises, the government is promising to develop a new model of addictions care, “one that moves people seamlessly from detox to treatment and fills the gaps between services where people might relapse and fall through the cracks.”

While the premiers are gathering in Ottawa to talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a new health funding deal on Tuesday, the B.C. government says it is already planning “historic” new spending levels on the public health care system. The Throne Speech singled out plans to address growing wait-lists for cancer care, with new investments to enhance access to screening and early detection, diagnostic imaging and treatments.

The Speech from the Throne marks the start of the spring legislative session. It outlines some of the legislation that is set to be tabled in the coming weeks.

The agenda includes tougher regulations to try to get polluters to pay the cost of environmental cleanup on abandoned sites, legislation to crack down on gangs and money laundering, and a measure to outlaw malicious and exploitative non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

It will also introduce a skills training plan called Future Ready, which promises to make education and training more accessible, and affordable.

The government is also promising the long-awaited Emergency and Disaster Management Act, after concerns were raised about emergency preparedness in the face of recent climate disasters including floods, wildfires and a heat wave that killed 600 people.

And, it is going to table pay transparency legislation, “to shine a light on the gender pay gap and move closer to equal pay for equal work.”