By Carole James
The spring sitting of the Legislature has concluded and our government has been hard at work for the people of B.C. We've focused attention on a range of pressing issues including health care, education, mental health and addictions, transportation and a strong economy.
For too long, too many families couldn’t get the services they needed or afford to live here. We’re making different choices to make sure life is more affordable, improve the services people count on, and create good jobs and a sustainable economy throughout B.C.
We are making life more affordable by:
- Eliminating unfair MSP fees by 2020, saving individuals $900 a year and families $1800 a year.
- Freezing BC Ferries fares on major routes, reducing fares on non-major routes and fully restoring the seniors’ passenger fare discount.
- Making the most significant investment in childcare in BC’s history – a $1 billion-dollar investment, starting with an immediate fee reduction for parents of up to $350 per month for eligible childcare spaces.
- Implementing a bold plan to tackle the housing crisis, including a $6 billion investment in supply, actions to cool speculation driving up costs for ordinary families, new laws protecting renters, and closing loopholes that lead to fraud and abuse.
We are improving the services people need by:
- Increasing funding for education and hiring 3,700 new teachers to support students.
- Upgrading and building new schools to make sure students are safe and growing communities have places for kids to learn.
- Investing in quality public health care for people with better care for seniors, shorter wait times for surgeries, and a new primary health-care strategy with a focus on team-based care.
- Hiring 200 new nurse practitioners, 200 more doctors, and 50 clinical pharmacists to help more people access the medical care they need.
- Our new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has been hard at work responding to the overdose crisis.
- Improving access to justice and increasing funding for women fleeing abuse, and for kids looking for an alternate path away from gangs.
We are building a sustainable economy by:
- Launching the Fair Wages Commission to get B.C. to a $15-an-hour minimum wage with regular, measured and predictable increases.
- Improving access to trades training and committed to increase opportunities.
- Fighting climate pollution and supporting sustainable, new tech and clean growth economy.
- Reducing the small business tax rate by 20 percent.
- Eliminating PST on electricity for business.
- Creating hundreds of new Science, Technology, and Engineering post-secondary spaces.
The problems facing families didn’t appear overnight, and they won’t be fixed overnight. Our government is getting it done, step-by step. There is more to do, but it is amazing what can be done when government puts people first and makes choices with them in mind.
With summer in full swing, it’s such a great time of the year to enjoy Victoria-Beacon Hill. There are so many interesting places to explore, and I’m looking forward to taking in some of our great summer celebrations and savouring the bounty from our local growers and crafters.
The James Bay Community Market is in full swing every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the northwest corner of Menzies and Superior. The Moss Street Market goes every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Moss Street and Fairfield Road in the Sir James Douglas school yard and boulevard. I look forward to perhaps seeing you at our local events and markets this summer.
I’m so proud to be serving as your MLA, Finance Minister and Deputy Premier. Together we are working to make life better for people and communities in B.C.