General News · 7th June 2018
MLA Report June 2018
The spring session has ended after dozens of bills were passed which our government believes will make life better for people in BC. While the pipeline debate has been garnering most of the headlines, our government has been making decisions and passing legislation in a concerted effort to right some of the failures of the last 16 years.
John Horgan has been Premier for just under a year and I am proud to be part of his Cabinet. Among our initiatives, we: have committed $1-billion to reducing the cost and increasing access to childcare; are expanding housing stock; have improved protection for tenants; have increased the minimum wage; are investing in 4,000 new teachers; have reduced ferry fares and brought back the free seniors’ ferry travel.
When it comes to health care we are reducing waitlists for hip and knee surgeries, substantially increasing the number of nurse practitioners and introducing urgent care centres. We have created a Ministry specifically to deal with mental health and addictions and are taking an intensive and focussed approach in dealing with the opioid crisis which impacts all our communities.
We have cut MSP premiums by half and will be getting rid of the tax completely by the end of the year. MSP is unfair. No matter how much you earn you paid the same MSP premium. So, like other provinces, we will be replacing this unfair charge with a payroll tax. The BC payroll tax will be lower than other provinces with a maximum rate of 1.9 percent for businesses with a payroll of $1.5-million and an exemption for those with a payroll of less than $500,000.
There are of course big challenges ahead. The questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and the Federal government’s determination to push it through, will likely be front and centre for months to come. Our government is continuing with our reference case, asking the courts to determine jurisdiction. We simply cannot afford to put our coast at risk: the impact of a spill of diluted bitumen would be devastating for our environment and the thousands of jobs that depend on our oceans.
Another area which continues to be a major focus is the difficult struggle to try to get our public auto insurer, ICBC, back on track after the BC Liberals left it with a $1.3 billion deficit. We’ll also be working on the roll out of cannabis legalisation in the summer.
And then there is the upcoming referendum on proportional representation (PR). The Attorney General tabled a report that recommends two questions be asked. First, whether people want to change our voting system. Those who vote ‘yes’, will then be asked to choose one of three types of proportional representation. I am fully supportive of proportional representation. It will mean that people’s voices will be truly heard through the ballot box. Where proportional representation is in place it makes sure that political parties work together as it does not guarantee a majority. This last year has shown that is possible in BC as our government has worked under an accord with the Green Party. Importantly, the systems proposed for the PR ballot will ensure rural representation is protected.
As Minister of Transportation, I was pleased we got an agreement with BC Ferries to roll back fares on most of our ferry routes and keep fares frozen on the routes to the mainland. I look forward to receiving and reviewing the findings of the independent review of our ferry system later in the summer.
I was also proud to announce that, after Greyhound stopped serving northern BC at the end of May, my Ministry would launch BC Bus North. This is a BC Transit service. It will mean people will not be stranded in their communities. I am committed to making public transportation more widely accessible and have also been visiting small transit services in various places around BC to see how communities have come together to provide it.
It is also good to see the investment in highways in the North Island since I became Minister. The Head Bay Road is getting an upgrade and there is a significant investment in the road to Fair Harbour. Work is soon to begin at Campbell Way in Port McNeill as well as on Beaver Cove Road. And there will also be significant work on Quadra Island and around Campbell River as well as other locations.
The Legislature has just adjourned until the fall but I will have to return to Victoria for weekly Cabinet meetings and to deal with the demands of my Ministry. I will also be on the road around BC in June and part of July. Even so, I will have more time in and around the constituency and look forward to meeting with people through the summer.
As always, I can be contacted at Claire.trevena.mlaleg.bc.ca; or by phone in Campbell River at 250 287 5100 and in Port Hardy at 250 949 9473. as well as toll free at 1 866 387 5100. And you can follow me on Twitter clairetrevena. I no longer use my personal Facebook page but you can keep up to date with what I am doing on my politician page: Claire Trevena.
I hope that everyone has a good start to their summer.