The same week of the newest royal’s birth, the B.C. legislature wrapped up its summer session. One made headlines around the world, and one didn’t get too much attention even in BC. So let me take this opportunity to give you an update on some of the things that occurred in B.C.’s legislative assembly this July.
In short, we debated the Liberals budget over five weeks. During that time, I settled into my new roles as Opposition critic for social development, chair of the Opposition’s social policy committee and an executive member of the Opposition caucus. I also continued my role as chair of the New Democrat women’s caucus. It’s great to contribute to the legislative assembly with new responsibilities along with my primary duty of representing our region in B.C.’s capital.
But what does that look like on the ground? you ask. Let’s take a look.
Several issues have recently been critical to our region. Emergency room closures, physician recruitment, keeping Jumbo wild and fair treatment for the survivors of Johnsons Landing mudslide. On each of these issues, I have asked questions directly to the responsible ministers, and was able to follow up on Johnsons Landing and Jumbo in meetings with the ministers. By advocating for our region through the tools available to me in the legislature, I’m able to get information for the public, as well as make government aware and seek commitments from them on issues important to us.
Along with bringing forward the concerns of our region, I have a duty to take the lead in ensuring the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation is accountable to the public. The decisions made by this ministry impact every community in B.C., including the Creston Valley. It provides income assistance, supports for people with disabilities and employment services like those at Kootenay Employment Services. It has a budget of over $2 billion and is the third-largest ministry.
So when the government has failed to keep its promise for a new program that helps people with disabilities volunteer in their community, I asked the minister why. When a family on income assistance couldn’t get help to move out of a homeless shelter into a permanent home while the premier spends over $400,000 on wining and dining friends, I asked how the Liberals could get their priorities so wrong. In both situations, I am asking the government to make critical changes for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
As a member of our New Democrat caucus executive and chair of two committees, I work with colleagues as part of our leadership team in developing key policies for both advocacy to government and practice within our caucus. After four years, I have some ideas on what we can do among ourselves to improve our advocacy and operations, and how we can make a positive difference for all British Columbians. That said, I sought roles where I can work with others on putting those ideas into action and won the support of my colleagues to do so.
Being able to represent our region is a true honour enriched by being able to contribute to the legislative assembly, the NDP caucus and our democracy. Whether in Victoria, at home or in other parts of our province, the work is rewarding.
Michelle Mungall is the member of the legislative assembly for the Nelson-Creston provincial riding, and is the Opposition critic for social development.