The fall session of the Legislature was scheduled to start this week. It was the opportunity for MLAs to take the issues raised in our constituencies over the last few months to Victoria and challenge the government.
However, the Liberals – in what can only be described as an arrogant move – decided to cancel the sitting, saying there was nothing that needed doing. That means we will not return until next spring, just ahead of the provincial election.
But the needs and concerns of the North Island continue to be compelling. I will focus on just a couple in this report. Our forest industry, once the backbone of our economy, is in crisis. Like the rest of BC there are serious questions about the environment, alternative energy and sustainability. And there are many unanswered questions about our health care.
The Official Opposition Forestry Critic, Bob Simpson, launched his province-wide forestry tour in the North Island. Together we visited large-scale logging operations, woodlots and mills. We talked with those still working in the industry and those fearful about their future. Those worries have been heightened by the latest announcement by Western Forest Products of more lay-offs.
It was an opportunity to talk to those in the industry and through two public meetings, with people from across the North Island, about the NDP’s forestry plan. That includes:
- a “Green Plan” which involves an inventory of the land base and reinvestment;
- tenure reform;
- changing our expectations of what is economically valuable and viable in our forests;
- depoliticising forestry by establishing a permanent commission on forestry;
- establishing a worker and community stabilisation programme.
In the North Island we’ve seen companies profit from our public lands at the cost of our communities and our jobs. Loggers have hardly worked this year, mill workers have been laid-off; our communities are suffering the knock-on effects.
Forest health, environmental health, and community health are inextricably linked: people in our towns, villages and islands have known that for years. If you are interested in more information about the NDP forestry plan, check out www.ourforests.ca
With the heightened political awareness brought by the federal election, I have also had a number of people who want to know more about our environmental plans. As I’ve mentioned in past MLA reports, I believe we all have to pay a price for using non-renewable resources. The NDP has a holistic plan to deal with climate change, to support communities, to enhance local food production and to ensure a just transition. For those interested in finding out more about this, go to www.buildingsustainablebc.ca
Health care remains a huge issue. I led a delegation from Campbell River – which included First Nations, representatives from the medical profession, the continually hard working Citizens for Quality Health Care, hospital staff and hospital auxiliary – to meet the Health Minister, George Abbott on the ongoing battle for our hospital. The minister gave no commitment that our hospital will get the investment it needs, and that so many in our community are calling for.
Meanwhile, I continue to work with the people of Port Alice to try to ensure that community gets a doctor in place as soon as possible.
These are just some of the issues I would take into the Legislature if the Liberals had been willing to get down to business in Victoria this fall. I am always happy to hear your concerns and thoughts. I can be reached by email at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca or by phone at 250 287 5100 (Campbell River) or 250 956 0028 (Port McNeill) or 1 866 387 5100. You can also read news releases, flyers and other information at www.clairetrevena.ca