Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 21st October 2011
Claire Trevena
The public focus of our week in the Legislature was the continuing crisis in Community Living BC (CLBC) - the organisation which is supposed to work with developmentally disabled adults. Daily we demanded from the government a halt to group home closures and an independent investigation. In return we daily received denials from the Premier and the Minister responsible that there is anything wrong in its operation.

However, when we brought a motion to the floor of the Legislature calling for a moratorium on group home closures, a couple of backbench BC Liberal MLAs admitted there is a crisis which their government is ignoring. Despite the sterling work of the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living, I regularly hear from North Island families whose sons or daughters are impacted. I spoke in favour of halting group home closures: 65 have shut their doors leaving hundreds of people without a supportive family atmosphere.

One of the major problems faced by those with developmental disabilities, and their families, is when a person becomes 19 years old, they are transferred from the support of the Ministry for Children and Families to the chaos that is CLBC. This is a frightening time for the young people and their families who suddenly find themselves with very few supports. I also talked about other young people who have been in care of the Ministry who, when they turn 19, find themselves on their own . I spoke about their need for support and advocacy, the stresses they feel and the difficulties they have in making the system work for them. The result of this abrupt abandonment is many end up on welfare, find themselves homeless or have mental health problems.

Also in my capacity as critic for the Minister of Children and Family development I recognised the hard work of foster families through the province, during this, Foster Family Month.
The Standing Committee on Children and Youth met again this week to examine the Act which governs the role of the Representative for Children and Youth. This is an ongoing series of meetings where we are examining the continued relevance of the Legislation, five years after its inception.

And there were many other issues discussed in the Legislature during the week. Changes are being made to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Access to information is at the heart of a healthy democracy but, as I discussed when I responded to the Bill, the Liberal government has done little to allow individuals, organisations and media and access to information. People applying face large costs, time delays and often find large sections of the reports blacked out. Nor has the government done much to protect people’s privacy. There are many examples of wholesale breaches of privacy. And there is real concern that this bill, as it stands now, will do nothing to increase security of personal data at a time when it allows for more information to be gathered electronically about BC citizens .

The other main area of debate this week was whether lower mainland municipalities should be allowed to charge an extra 2 cents a litre on gas to help pay for the long planned Evergreen transit line. While we agree with that we think the government should go further: we have been arguing that instead of having a “revenue neutral” carbon tax, money raised from that source should be spent on public tranist initiatives.

One of the issues we have raised in question period are the concerns about ISA, the [virus which has been found in some salmon in Rivers Inlet]; this could have a major impact on both the environment and jobs in aquaculture in the North Island but the Minister for Agriculture, the MLA for the Comox Valley, gave no confidence that he had any understanding of the situation.

On the issue of jobs in our communities, I met with the Jobs Minister, Pat Bell, and talked to him about Campbell River becoming a pilot community for the government’s Job Plan. It looks like success; while it has not been finalised it is now extremely likely. The programme will bring together a cross-section of people and interests in our community to drive innovation and job creation. As one of the first communities, we will be under the spotlight and it will be a real test of whether there is any substance in what has appeared to be a Liberal government jobs’ spin. Everyone is agreed on the need for jobs across the North Island and we should encourage all sincere efforts being made to create them.

My Port Hardy community office will re-open shortly; I am pleased to say that Caroline Kennard is joining the team at the end of this month and we hope to get the office, in the former Robert Scott Elementary School, open shortly thereafter.

I will be in the constituency this weekend, returning to Victoria for another week in the Legislature on Sunday. If you would care to have a chat, you can drop by an informal coffee and dessert evening at the Campbell River Community Centre Lounge on Friday, October 21st from 7 pm onwards.

And, I can always be contacted at claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca, on 250 287 5100 in Campbell River or 1 877 387 5100 toll free. Or you can find me and friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter clairetrevena.

Best regards,
Claire