Carole James MLA Report – March 2014

After 200 days without sitting, the government at last called the Legislature back into session February 11th to table a throne speech that sadly shows it is more concerned with self-interest than the needs of British Columbians. The speech is woefully short on substance or action to deal with pressing needs in our communities.

The speech mentioned poverty only once, and I am deeply disappointed that this government continues to ignore child poverty, even as we remain the province with the highest child poverty – a sad reality for more than a decade. We need real action with real resources to provide support to children in need.

Where was the commitment to a province-wide poverty reduction plan, with real measurable targets and a plan to begin to address this shameful statistic? The Opposition has drafted legislation government could use, and yet it refuses to act on this urgent issue.

Our senior citizens, who are such a vital part of our community, and have given so much over their many years, did not even rate a mention in the throne speech. Not once. Yet they are some of those most affected by the cuts government is imposing on citizens. Where was a commitment to home care support that could meet the needs of many seniors and save health care resources?

Since the legislature last met, the government has continued to mismanage key files and make life less affordable. Medical Services Plan premiums are up yet again and ferry fares have increased, and will jump again in April, while ferry services will be cut up and down the coast.

In the fall, just before the legislature should have returned to work, the government unveiled a hike to hydro rates that will add $300 to the average bill per family per year, while allowing the hidden debt at B.C. Hydro to climb. Yet the throne speech contained nothing to give people hope that the government understands the impact of these increases.

The impacts are real, and are causing hardships in our community. It’s a message I hear every day in my community office.

B.C.'s debt has risen by $2.5 billion since we last sat, climbing faster under Christy Clark than any premier in our province's history. Despite government claims that jobs are being created, the reality is that private sector job growth is the worst in the country. Thousands of people are leaving B.C. searching for work in other provinces. In the last 200 days, B.C. has lost more than 21,000 full time jobs.

Where is the plan to strengthen our economy through diversification? We need a strategy to grow renewable energy and our arts, culture, and film industries. Our local businesses and tourism sector should be supported by government policies that enable them to grow and thrive.

Yet after 200 days away from the legislature to contemplate what is needed to respond to the pressures facing our province, the government could only come up with pipe dream promises about LNG and repeats of old announcements.
For a government that has been in power 13 years, this throne speech showed a shocking lack of vision and substance.

Political games aren’t what British Columbia needs now. We need strong, engaged, decisive leadership on issues that matter, and it’s long past time that we made children, affordability, and the environment priorities for action.

It’s a message I am continuing to carry forward to the legislature on behalf of the citizens of Victoria-Beacon Hill. Please tell me what you think. I’d appreciate hearing about your priorities for change.