Speech From the Throne
Legislative Session: 1st Session, 37th Parliament
Speech from the Throne
The Honourable Garde B. Gardom
at the Opening of the
First Session, Thirty-Seventh Parliament
Province of British Columbia
June 19, 2001
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members of the Legislature
It is my pleasure to address you on the opening of the First Session
of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament of British Columbia.
I am pleased to welcome many new members to the Legislature. British
Columbians have elected a new government to serve them and lead
their Province. I want to express my appreciation to returning and
new members as you take up your duties, which as always will challenge
and reward you as you serve the public. Our citizens are entitled
to your best, and I am confident you will all meet their expectations.
My government has made many commitments to British Columbians.
It has said that over its term it will restore business confidence
in British Columbia and attract new investment; improve our education
system; protect the environment; and make the processes of government
more open, responsive and accountable. It has committed to an aggressive
ninety-day agenda of change.
No commitment, however, represents a greater challenge than the
improvement of health care.
Like other provinces and indeed other countries, British Columbia
faces the need to provide better patient care to meet the requirements
of our growing and aging population. Properly targeted resources,
a long-term health-care plan, improved public health services, and
better community and mental health care are all part of my government's
These issues, and more, will be addressed in future legislative
There is, however, a more urgent health-care issue facing British
Columbians and my government. A long labour relations dispute between
the Nurses Bargaining Association and the Health Employers Association
of BC has brought British Columbia's health-care system to a point
of crisis. Patients requiring immediate care cannot get beds, and
their treatment is deferred. An accumulating backlog of people requiring
care will burden the system for many months to come. In recent weeks,
another dispute between the employers and the Health Sciences Association
threatens additional delays, and more backlogs.
My government recognizes the issues that have led to this situation,
and believes they must be addressed. All British Columbians, including
those who work in the health-care system, want and demand a successful
system, but the underlying problems that have built up over many
years cannot be addressed in weeks, or even months. A joint effort
-- requiring the best of my government, our public servants, the
health authorities, health professionals, and health-care unions
-- will be required. Our citizens demand nothing less.
In the short term, however, my government must address the immediate
problem. Sending seriously ill patients to hospitals in Washington,
while necessary, serves only those in critical need. British Columbians
want to see a full restoration of health services now.
My government intends to act decisively, and will present legislation
in this session to restore health services. In doing so, it will
provide time for the health unions and employers to explore solutions
to the most pressing issues that are preventing agreement. My government
regards the protection of services that are essential to the well-being
of the people of British Columbia as a primary obligation. British
Columbians know there is a need for action. My government believes
that the calm of reason will allow us to move forward caring for
patients while supporting health-care professionals, and that most
British Columbians will understand the need for this action.
I leave you to the important business of this session, confident
that you will fulfill the heavy responsibilities to British Columbians
the electorate has placed on you.