By Carole James, MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
As I sit down to write this in mid-May, the results of the May 9th general election are still unclear. By the time you are reading this, we will know how the over 176,000 absentee voters cast their ballots, and we’ll have an idea of what the BC government over the next four years will look like.
Regardless of how the seat count will play out for the rest of the province, I want to express my most heartfelt gratitude to you, the community I’m honoured to serve. I grew up here and raised my kids here in James Bay, and I’ve always been proud and humbled by the active, informed and engaged spirit of our community. I took nothing for granted this campaign, least of all the voters, and I’m thrilled to once again be given the opportunity to represent you in the legislature. Thank you for your support.
I spoke with many of you on the doorstep, on the phone, and out in the community, and the message I heard was clear: the current way of doing government in this province isn’t working for the majority of people and our environment, and that change is desperately needed.
In whatever form our next parliament takes, I’m looking forward to getting to work and making that change happen. I’m ready to work together to reform our electoral system, rebuild our services like healthcare and education, fight for our environment, and ban big money from BC politics.
By far the issue I heard most about on the campaign trail was affordability. I spoke with families who can’t afford a decent place to live, seniors struggling on limited incomes, and people dealing with ever-rising rents, MSP fees and hydro bills. I spoke with people on disability who are forced to choose between groceries or a bus pass, and young parents who are struggling to find and pay for child care. It’s clear that many people in our province are having trouble getting by with increased costs and stagnant wages.
Government can, and should, be doing more to help make life affordable. We should be building more affordable housing, working to eliminate MSP fees, better managing our public utilities so they remain affordable, implementing $10-a-day child care, and bringing in a $15 minimum wage. We need to be working to eliminate poverty and homelessness, and to repair the gaping holes in our social safety net so that support is there when families and individuals are in crisis.
I also heard from many voters who are worried about the future of our planet, and how we can ensure that young people have stable, well-paying jobs without sacrificing our environment. I’ve always believed that we don’t have to choose between having a strong economy and protecting our environment. We can do both, and we’ll get there by embracing new, sustainable technologies, investing in green industries and innovation, and by becoming responsible stewards of our natural resources so that they’re there for future generations. Our province must become a leader on these issues, or we risk being left behind.
I also heard about the need to improve the public services we all rely on, especially for our children and most vulnerable citizens. I’m committed to improving supports for people with mental illnesses and addictions, to properly funding our education system, to ensuring everyone has access to primary health care, and to making sure that our senior citizens can live out their final years in comfort and dignity.
These will be my priorities in the days and months ahead, whether that’s in government or opposition. I’m looking forward to working with the community and with the other elected MLAs to bring the changes that are needed in our province.