From ride-hailing to hydro rates: Premier John Horgan looks back on 2018
It's been a busy 2018 at the B.C. Legislature for John Horgan and the NDP.
Here's what the premier had to say about his first full year in office in a sit-down interview with CTV News.
B.C. is heading into 2019 with what so far looks like more than a $1-billion surplus.
Next year, Horgan said his government will be looking into how it can use that money to help British Columbians.
"If we still have a surplus in Quarter 3, we'll see what we can do to get that into the hands of program deliverers and the infrast ructure people need," he told CTV.
The anticipated excess comes after a major cash injection for childcare and affordable housing.
Addressing BC Hydro rates
Among the challenges the government plans to take on in 2019 are climbing BC Hydro rates, which Horgan said "I thought was going to be our biggest problem when we came into government."
In March, the BC Utilities Commission rejected a government-promised freeze on hydro rates, which have now grown by 25 per cent since 2013.
The government has since launched a two-phase review of the public hydroelectricity provider in hopes of controlling costs and curbing rate increases.
Perhaps one of the most contentious issues of the past has been the introduction of ride-hailing services into the B.C., which the NDP did not deliver in the timeframe the party campaigned on.
Horgan, however, deflected blame to the former Liberal government.
"Of course we missed the deadline that all parties had run on because there had been no work done by the previous government," he said.
In November, the province introduced long-awaited legislation that could pave the way for companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in B.C.
If passed, the act would expand Passenger Transportation Board's authority so that it has control over which companies can enter the B.C. market, where they can operate and how much they can charge.
Exactly when you'll be able to hop in an Uber, however, remains about as unclear as before the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act was announced. That's largely because ICBC has yet to develop a new insurance product that will cover Uber and Lyft drivers, a process that could take another year or more as the public auto insurer also contends with its dire financial situation.
Insurance rate hike
Horgan also blamed the Liberals when addressing rising auto insurance rates, but knows his government is now on the hook.
"The public expects us to get things done, and we have to be accountable for our actions and, I fully intend to do my level best," the premier said.
Earlier this month, ICBC announced it would apply for a 6.3-per-cent increase to basic premiums as the public auto insurer tries to recover from a forecasted $1 billion deficit.
Despite outcry about the rate increase, Attorney General David Eby called the proposed hike a realistic step towards what he has referred to as a "financial dumpster fire."
Another challenge the government faces in 2019 is a high-stakes byelection in Nanaimo triggered by former MLA Leonard Krog, who left his seat after being elected mayor of the Vancouver Island city.
Despite being considered an NDP stronghold, the Green candidate in that electoral district is the daughter of a longtime former mayor, and splitting up votes on the left could benefit the Liberals.
A Liberal victory would leave the party tied for seats with the NDP-Green coalition at 43 each, disturbing the precarious balance of power in Victoria.
In addition to the crucial vote, the NDP-Green deal that made Horgan premier in the first place is up for review.
And while the partnership has held up so far, Horgan said it hasn’t always been easy.
"We haven't agreed on everything," he said. There were a lot of difficult days for us... and we were able to focus on why we're here."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan