General · 30th June 2010
Canada Day is upon us and many people are starting to wind down for summer. But this year, as everyone knows, Canada Day not only marks the unofficial start of summer, but the official start of the HST. There’s still no indication that the Campbell government will change its mind on that tax, despite the outpouring of opposition to it.
If the initiative petition is successful, which should be known in July, a Legislative Committee with MLAs from both government and the opposition, will meet to decide on the next steps. That committee can either put a Bill before the Legislature to end the HST or go to a referendum, to be held in September 2011, on whether to keep the tax. This process and the options, including the referendum date, set out in law.
Many people have talked individually with me about their concerns about the HST. But it is clear from comments during community meetings that I have been holding around the constituency that it is not the only issue worrying people.
In many communities education is a real concern. Whether or not a community is confronted with the potential of a school closing, the impact the severe cuts the government has made is being felt across the board. Parents, trustees and teachers all know that this is going to have a huge effect on education for our children. And we all know that keeping a school open and allowing our youngsters to have equality of educational opportunity is a fundamental part of keeping a community alive.
Problems with healthcare and seniors care were also expressed at community meetings. In the north end of the island there is the continuing concern about access to emergency care, as well as to adequate staffing. I have pledged to work with communities to strongly make the point to the Ministry of Health and the Vancouver Island Health Authority that this continuing problem is unacceptable and that everyone has a right to proper and timely health care.
I continue to hear from anxious family members whose close relatives, cannot access publicly funded seniors care. The waitlists remain long and many are kept in hospitals until a space in a care home becomes available. Others have been placed in care homes hundreds of kilometers away from their families. This is no way to look after our seniors who should have the right to high quality public care in their own communities. And it is no way to run our health system; so that much needed hospital bed space is used by people who would be better off in caring seniors facilities.
And of course jobs have remained a huge issue for many people across the North Island. We are still waiting for some movement at Catalyst to get the mill working again. The Minister of Forests said a few bland words when he visited the community a couple of weeks ago, but his government has done nothing for forest dependant communities and mill workers across the province. The ripple effect of this extended closure is still being felt in Campbell River and beyond. Earlier this month I wrote to the union members to give them my support in what has effectively been a 15 month lock-out.
I am spending the summer in the constituency, visiting organizations and businesses, meeting with individuals and taking on your concerns. I am also launching a youth outreach project to listen to the concerns and priorities of young people in the community; I’ve hired a recent grad for a few weeks to kick-start the project and plan to continue it through the coming year.
While my reports will not be as frequent over the summer as they are when I am in the Legislature I am always available by email at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, by phone at 1 250 287 5100 in Campbell River, 1 250 902 0325 in Port Hardy or 1 866 387 5100 toll free.
Best regards and enjoy the summer,