Budget 2004 -- Government of British Columbia.
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Legislative Assembly Signature.

January 26, 2004

Honourable Geoff Plant Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations

Dear Colleague,

Since June 2001, our government has been working to implement our New Era vision to revitalize the economy, restore sound fiscal management, and put patients and students first.

Our New Era platform contained 201 specific commitments that our government would undertake on behalf of British Columbians. These included a commitment to "establish service plans that include measurable performance standards and targets for all programs that are annually audited and published, for all taxpayers to see."

On June 25, 2001, I sent you a letter of instruction setting out the key priorities for your Ministry, including a list of the New Era commitments assigned to your Ministry. These commitments were also included in the Government Strategic Plan and Ministry Service Plans that were tabled in the Legislature in February 2002, covering fiscal years 2002/03 through 2004/05.

The service plan you are tabling today represents the final year of the first three-year plans. And it shows that we have made significant progress toward honouring our commitments. Specifically, of the 25 New Era commitments that involved your Ministry, the province has now completed or begun work on 22 of these. Accomplishments in your Ministry over the past two-and-a-half years include:

  • Established the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform with representation randomly selected from each of the province's 79 electoral districts.
  • Adopted a plan to establish circuit courts in 15 communities.
  • Set up the Civil Liability Review Project to consider issues of limits and fairness in civil liability.

Specific accomplishments relating to the Treaty Negotiations Office include:

  • Signed a protocol agreement with the First Nations Summit to establish a new relationship of recognition and reconciliation with British Columbia First Nations.
  • Signed agreements-in-principle with Lheidli T'enneh (July 2003), Maa-nulth First Nations (October 2003) and Sliammon (December 2003).
  • Dedicated funding for economic development – as of September 2003, 124 projects have been initiated with a value of over $26 million.
  • Implement a new $15 million B.C. Rail First Nations Benefits Trust.

In the coming year, the province will continue work on a number of priorities to honour the commitments that we have made. These are detailed in your Ministry service plan, and include:

  • Better management of criminal and civil cases to reserve courts for the hardest cases while providing alternative non-court procedures for other cases.
  • Make the justice system more efficient.
  • Reform civil law and the administrative justice system.

Upcoming priorities for the Treaty Negotiations Office include:

  • Continue to renew treaty negotiations and focus on opportunities to conclude treaty settlements that provide certainty for all British Columbians.
  • Implement economic development projects to expand Aboriginal entrepreneurship and add to the number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal business partnerships in key sectors.
  • Expand efforts to achieve reconciliation with First Nations to build a foundation of trust upon which to base treaties and other agreements.

It is important to note that all of the province's achievements to date and our priorities for the year ahead will be accomplished while balancing the budget in 2004/05. At the same time, government significantly increased funding for health care and education.

Clearly, we will do more if we can, as new resources are available, to build on the funding priorities detailed in this service plan – in a way that is consistent with our balanced budget commitment.

As our measures to revitalize the economy continue to create new jobs, growth and investment, this will allow us to continue strengthening public services for the benefit of British Columbians. Opportunities like the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will showcase British Columbia to the world and generate economic benefits all across our province. Future service plans will further demonstrate those benefits.

I know that you will continue to build on the progress your Ministry has made. Let me conclude by thanking you for your commitment to serving the best interests of all British Columbians.

Yours sincerely,
Honourable Gordon Campbell


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