As many people know, the BC Liberals instituted fixed elections every four years and, at the same time, also set dates when the Legislature must sit. We’re mandated to sit for two months every fall. But, ignoring their own legislation, the government has once again decided that the parliamentary process is inconvenient for them. The BC Legislature is not sitting this fall and will not sit again until next February.
I have been using this time to get out into the community. I was lucky enough to see the inside of the John Hart project, a mammoth job that– unlike Site C – has a project labour agreement. That means well paid union workers are on the job and I am told that more than 80 percent of them are from the North Island.
I also held a meeting for women business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals recently and thank all those who gave their time to take part. Interesting issues were raised and discussed, from the availability and cost of childcare to an increase in the minimum wage.
If the Legislature was in session I would be able to take the concerns these women and other people across the North Island have raised with me directly to the ministers responsible. I would again ask the Minister of Children and Families why the government doesn’t guarantee that high quality public childcare is a right for working families.
I would again ask the Minister of Health to stop his plans for paid parking at the new Campbell River and Comox hospitals. I would again tell him this is a punitive burden on patients and their families as well as hospital staff, all the more because our hospitals also serve residents of many rural communities.
I would again ask the Minister of Transportation to treat our ferries as a true transit system and as a real part of the highway system. At the moment ferry users are expected to pay for all the running and maintenance costs of the vessels; that doesn’t happen if you are riding a bus, a water bus or the Skytrain but it means a serious commitment from the government.
I would again ask the Minister of Education why a Grade 12 student in Port Hardy has to take Chemistry 12 by distance education? I would ask him why the government won’t guarantee that this student has the same opportunities as his counterparts in the Lower Mainland, Victoria or other urban centres?
I would ask the Minister of Forests to take seriously the requests of Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Port Alice to extend their community forest so that money generated can go back into those communities.
I would ask the Ministers of Housing, Health and Social Development (welfare) to engage with our communities who, because of cuts and off-loading are being forced to deal with problems of poverty, of mental health and of homelessness – challenges which they are not equipped nor empowered to deal with.
I would ask the Minister responsible for technology to realize that everyone needs to have access to high speed, broadband internet and tell him that people living in rural communities should not have to continually fight to get an utility service that most people around the world take for granted.
Unfortunately it will be months until I can directly challenge the government on these and countless other issues. I continue to write letters and make calls, but these do not have the force of face-to-face meetings.
In the coming weeks I will be travelling around various communities to hear directly from you about the challenges and concerns you face. From October 18th to the 21st I will be in Port McNeill, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Sointula and Alert Bay for community meetings. I will be meeting with NDP colleagues in the interior the following week. Then I will continue North Island community visits and meetings through November.
In the meantime I can always be reached by email at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone in Campbell River on 250 287 5100, in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473 or toll free at 1 866 387 5100. Feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me @clairetrevena on Twitter.