I have been honoured to represent the West Kootenays as MLA since 2005 and for the last three years as British Columbia’s Minister of Children and Family Development, as well as Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and the Columbia River Treaty.
I have had a variety of jobs which have given me important local experiences that help me understand our region and its people. I was one of B.C.'s first female power engineers, working at Celgar Pulp Mill. As well, I was an early childhood educator, and I also taught ECE at Selkirk College. Prior to being elected in 2005 I was the Executive Director of Kootenay Family Place, providing services to children youth and their families throughout the West Kootenays. I also helped to raise our four kids and run a cattle farm with my husband Ed in Pass Creek, where I still live.
My family -- including 9 grandkids, my siblings, nieces and nephews, and my 92 year old dad -- keep me connected to the things that are important to seniors and people working and raising families in Kootenay West. I hear first-hand from them and also many constituents about issues that affect us all, such as schools needing upgrading, challenges for small businesses, and access to housing and health care.
That’s why I’m proud of the NDP platform. Our plan is about taking care of each other. Before COVID-19, John Horgan and the BC NDP had begun fixing many problems facing the province -- problems created through 16 years of BC Liberal neglect. In only 3 years we have already accomplished so much, and with your support we can continue doing more.
Our plan has three top priorities:
● Better health care for you and your family.
● Good jobs & livelihoods in a clean-energy future.
You can find complete details of our platform here. It’s easy to type in keywords to find information about all the issues you care about.
Health care has never been more important than during this time of COVID. To make things better for you and your family, we will deliver faster care that’s closer to home. We have already begun doing so with expansions to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, an expanded emergency department at Arrow Lakes Hospital, and a new Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) in Castlegar, all of which give people better access to doctors and health care professionals. We will also continue to focus on keeping seniors healthy, safe and living with the dignity they deserve with 7,000 new frontline health care workers, eliminating multi-bed rooms in existing care homes and expanding public home care so seniors can live safely and independently.
For the last three years, we have worked hard to make homes and neighbourhoods more affordable. But there is more work to do. Our plan provides a one-time recovery benefit -- $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families -- to help stimulate the economy; a rent freeze until 2021; and providing an income-tested, $400 renters rebate. We will also continue our housing plan that already has 25,000 affordable units built or on the way.
Locally, in partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust, we are building affordable housing in Nakusp, Slocan, Rossland, Castlegar and Trail. For me this is just the beginning and I look forward to more collaboration with CBT and local communities to build more affordable homes in the area.
To help families with young children we’ll expand $10-a-day childcare. We have already invested over $15 million for childcare in Kootenay West alone, creating new spaces, supporting early childhood educators through wage enhancements and bursaries, and making childcare affordable -- putting over $5 million dollars back into family’s pockets locally.
Now is the time to build an economy that works for everyone. Instead of tax cuts that benefit the top 1%, we will invest 1% of GDP in a new Recovery Investment Fund. This $3 billion a year will help build more schools and hospitals, roads and bridges, childcare centres, and more. We have already begun improving schools in Kootenay West by hiring more teachers, upgrading schools, building new accessible playgrounds that parents don’t have to fundraise for, and providing funding for a brand new much needed Glenmerry School in Trail.
Our country-leading climate action plan, CleanBC, has and will continue to move B.C. forward to net-zero emissions by 2050. We’ll do this by investing in new technologies that will create good family-supporting jobs, while making electric vehicles and e-bikes more affordable, increasing the protection of our cherished wildlife and habitats, retrofitting existing buildings to make sure they are energy efficient, and invest in made-in-BC carbon capture technology. For our Government it’s not about investing in either an environmentally sustainable future or family supporting jobs – it’s not “either/or”. Its about doing both because we know we can, creating environmentally sustainable family-supporting jobs right across the province and here in Kootenay West.
For our government, resource industries like forestry and mining are not sunset industries. They have been at the heart of our economy for generations. In forestry we planted nearly 300 million trees in 2020 -- more than in any other year in B.C.’s history -- and we will continue to make investments in forest health, wildlife protection, silviculture and revitalizing our forests. The mining industry and its workers will also have a stronger future with the creation of a Mining Innovation Hub to identify and support innovation, offer training for workers in new technologies, regulatory excellence, environmental management and low-carbon approaches.
Locally, we have invested well over 2 million dollars to provide age-friendly grants to support seniors, grants for community groups to enhance local food banks, fire departments and Search and Rescue groups, and grants that benefited 73 local arts and culture, environment, sport, social service, public safety and multi-cultural organizations throughout the constituency.
The Columbia River Treaty is also very important to the people of our Basin. We are at a critical time in the negotiations with the United States and I believe my experience, strong advocacy and understanding of the needs required throughout the Basin will ensure we get the treaty that is beneficial to us now and for future generations.
There has been so much that has been accomplished in three years to make life better for British Columbians: Eliminating the MSP, the Child Opportunity Benefit providing more support to families, most people paying less taxes then they were in 2017 and raising the minimum wage, just to name a few. However, we face big challenges over the next four years. The question you need to ask yourself is this: Where do we want to go and who do we want to lead us there?
I would be so honoured to keep being your voice in Victoria. Our Leader, John Horgan, myself, and our entire team will always keep working for you. Together, we can keep BC moving forward—for everyone.