MLA Report: January 2012

With a diverse, active and engaged population and one of the best locations anywhere, Victoria is an amazing city to call home. I am so proud and honoured to represent our community. Victorians know they’re fortunate to live in such a wonderful place. But imagine the strength of our community if the provincial government would answer some of the challenges our residents are facing every day.

Far too many people are unable to find a job, the high cost of living means too many are reaching the end of the money before the end of the month, and too many cannot find acceptable housing. B.C.’s health care system continues to be stretched too thin, seniors continue to struggle to make ends meet, and the transportation system – both for roads and transit – isn’t getting the government resources it needs to do the job.

Government doesn’t have all the answers, but it should be there to help out, not to make things harder. Yet the provincial government rang in the New Year by hiking fees on services families need.

For the third year in a row, the province has increased medical services premiums, and this time they’re up by six percent. ICBC premiums jumped an average of 2.1 percent. Over the next three years, B.C. Ferries wants to increase fares by another 18 percent on major routes and 37 percent on smaller routes. B.C. Hydro rates are slated to increase 17 per cent between 2011 and 2013.

Rates for long-term residential care have increased by 93 percent since 2003, and low-income seniors are now expected to pay up to 80 percent of their income towards residential care. Tuition fees have doubled since 2001, and now undergrad students are paying up to $2,300 more per year.

The provincial budget will be tabled in February, and I will be watching for solutions, and not just words. Will the government address supports for adults with developmental disabilities and bring in an independent review of Community Living B.C.? Will there be more resources for home care support for seniors and nurse practitioners? They are vital to promote prevention of health issues and conserve resources in the system.

How about a real climate action plan that uses carbon tax revenue for real action like much-needed dollars for public transit? Post-secondary students need grants reinstated to help make going to college and university more affordable.

B.C. urgently needs to get serious about helping those most in need with a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. We need supports for training and apprenticeships and a real jobs plan that invests in people, our greatest resource.

Now is the time government should be investing in the drivers of our economy like tourism, and arts and culture. Small business needs certainty, and the province needs to move forward as fast as possible to reinstate the PST and GST and get rid of the HST. No more foot-dragging!

It is time for the provincial government to recognize the pressures families are facing and provide real solutions to help. I look forward to working with you, with small businesses, entrepreneurs, not for profits, and our entire community to build on our strengths, address the challenges, and continue to proudly call Victoria home.