Once again the government has spent a week ducking questions on cuts to education, problems in healthcare and, of course, the Olympics. Question period is the most theatrical part of the Legislature, and the government side gave a lacklustre performance for the last week – so much so that even its own backbenchers found it hard to show enthusiasm or energy in the regulation desk pounding.
Beyond question period – which I think is so called because we never get answers – we have started to deliberate on some of the bills the government has presented as well as start to go through the budget on a line by line basis, in the budget estimates process.
Some areas of concern include the Labour Mobility Act, which on the surface allows for a greater ability for people to work in any province. Obviously we all want to be able to have the freedom and ability to work in any province. However there is real concern that this piece of legislation will lead to a race to the bottom in qualifications, that the lowest standard becomes the norm. We will be asking many more questions about its implications during the Committee stage of the debate.
We are supportive of the act which expands the number of Protected Areas in BC; this includes a small increase to Cape Scott Provincial Park, around the San Josef Bay parking lot and a name change for Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park at the request of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ first nation. In the debate stage of the bill the Official Opposition voiced worries about a lack of funding for the Ministry of Environment to translate the concept of protected areas into a reality.
The lack of commitment came to the forefront when we discussed the Wood First Act, which basically says, that wood should be used wherever possible for local building projects. That’s really a motherhood and apple pie issue – of course we want wood to be used wherever appropriate – but it does not address the serious problems in our forest dependent communities. I was able to challenge the Minister
on this issue during the debate.
I was also able to raise concerns about the state of highways across the North Island
during the Ministry of Transportation estimates. Unfortunately there was not much time for discussion, because the budget was not tabled until September and this autumn session is short. I wanted to know more about repairs on Highway 19; plans for any remediation to Highway 28; and what are the proposals for Salmon River Main near Sayward and the Zeballos Forest Service Road. I also raised concerns about the size of the aggregate used during the winter.
I took the opportunity to talk about the work of Island JADE
during this week’s sitting: an appropriate time when we see the continuing impact of the government’s approach to the most vulnerable individuals in our community.
We have another break from the Legislature after the Thanksgiving weekend and I’ll be using the time to get around the constituency. Among the places I will be are, on Tuesday morning, in Campbell River meeting with the two CEP locals involved in the ongoing Catalyst lock out, along with the Mayor.
On Tuesday afternoon we are opening our new office in Port Hardy at 7215 Market Street (next to BlueBytes Computer Services): I look forward to seeing many people there, between 4pm and 6pm.
Wednesday takes me over to Alert Bay. Thursday I’m back in Campbell River where I’ll be at the Regional District Hospital Board Meeting and going to Island Cogen. And on Friday I am hosting a hospital stakeholders meeting to discuss next steps to ensure we get our new hospital as soon as possible.
You can always reach me by email at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca or by phone on 250 287 5100 or 1 866 387 5100. The office in Campbell River is at 908 Island Highway and in Port Hardy at 7215 Market Street.
Claire Trevena, MLA