MLA Report 27th April, 2012

There was good news for Campbell River and the North Island this week, with the announcement that the new hospital will be built. The Premier came to the city to announce the long awaited news, on a day the Legislature was sitting – but as the MLA for the region I was happy to miss question period and the ongoing debates in Victoria to be there because it was such a lengthy battle to get a new hospital.

It is long overdue, and it is thanks to the hard work of many people in our community who have come together to fight for accessible public health care, that it is going to happen. Work is said likely to start early next year.

Now it is a matter of making sure that VIHA keeps its commitment to provide the level of service we all expect from this regional facility. There is also the question of the funding model for construction: the government has said it will be a private-public partnership; this is an extremely expensive option for public infrastructure projects. I will be arguing for public funding for our public hospital.

The announcement also is good news for our North Island economy. The construction will bring jobs to Campbell River and I hope the project coordinators will integrate apprenticeship and trades training into it. A major infrastructure project is an ideal way of increasing our skilled workforce.

In coming to Campbell River for the announcement, I left behind fireworks in the Legislature. We have again been questioning the government about its $30 million out of court settlement with Boss Power; it turns out this was $22 million over what was recommended as a settlement after the BC Liberal government failed to follow correct procedures over a mining permit. It seems like every week there are more revelations about millions of dollars wasted – from outrageous overspending to money paid to cover up egregious behaviour.

I also left behind some of the very detailed work that doesn’t make the headlines but is an important part of the Legislature. We have been closely questioning the Minister of Justice on a bill which alters the limitation times for taking court action. We also have been going through a bill which could change the way animals are handled if taken into a shelter and we have been discussing a bill on BC’s energy self sufficiency. Often this is very detailed, methodical debate – no big flareups but it is an essential part of the democratic process. These debates provide insight into the government’s intentions when they bring in legislation.

I spent much of the week in the estimates debate of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, for which I am the opposition critic, examining its budget and plans for the coming year. I find it very troubling that such a crucial ministry be left with a static budget for three years; this in spite of having two very significant new programme areas, poverty reduction and dealing with domestic violence.

We also had the estimates debate for the Ministry of Transportation; our Ferries critic spent several hours asking whether the government had any commitment to a marine highway and whether it would act on any of the Ferry Commissioner’s recommendations. We are still waiting, three months after the Commissioner’s report was released.

I spoke about the value of building our ferries in BC and also about the value of cruise ships to our community.
Two new bills were brought in by the government: one addresses the pricing of generic drugs and a second which could allow school districts to change the school calendar to all year teaching. We have not started debate on either of these.

A party of students and teachers from Avalon Adventist Academy in Port Hardy came to visit the Legislature and it was my pleasure to introduce them.
As I mentioned in my report last week, I was at an Earth Day beach clean up last weekend, and described the event in the Legislature. I also voiced my concern about the danger to sealife from the seemingly all-pervasive styrofoam.

This weekend’s Day of Mourning will be particularly poignant, in the wake of the accident at the mill in Prince George and earlier this year in Burns Lake. I marked it in Campbell River at the ceremony on Friday morning.

Friday afternoon saw me hosting two meetings on the DriveABLE programme for seniors: I held them with my colleague Nicholas Simons, the MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast, at the Seniors’ Centre in Campbell River and at the Lower Native Sons Hall in Courtenay. And on Saturday I’m looking forward to meet with teachers from SD84 at their AGM in Gold River.

I’m always happy to hear from you: I can be reached by email at Claire.trevena.mla@leg.bc.ca, by phone on 250 28675100 in Campbell River, 250 949 9473 in Port Hardy or 1 866 387 5100 toll free. You can also friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena.

Best regards,
Claire