All 85 MLAs were back in the legislature Feb. 10. I’ll be there representing you until the session wraps up at the end of May.
First on the Victoria agenda was the throne speech. This sets out the government’s agenda for the upcoming year. Previous Liberal throne speeches have broken records on their short length. The last one was five pages and mostly filled with historical references rather than an agenda. Too often in the past six years, I’ve responded to the throne speech wondering when Kootenay priorities are going to get action instead of platitudes, slogans or no mention at all.
This week, we see the Liberals’ 2015/2016 budget. This document and corresponding legislation sets out how government will collect, spend and manage the public’s money. Here is where the rubber hits the road for the throne speech because if there is no money to back up the promises made in the agenda, even a short one, then the agenda becomes a talking point rather than reality. I’m sad to report that we’ve seen more talking points than real action since I was elected in 2009.
For example, last year, Christy Clark promised a “violence-free B.C.” to address domestic violence and missing and murdered women. However, there was no new money to back up the new slogan. No money for a bus on the “highway of tears” to dramatically improve women’s safety when they travel to get groceries. The result is that the promise in the throne speech was nothing more than sloganeering.
I think we can do better. While I know our provincial government can’t do everything, it can do a lot more than just talk about British Columbians’ priorities.
Too many people can’t get a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Too many kids are struggling in school because there aren’t enough resources. Too many of our next generation of workers can’t get the training they need or accumulate massive debts to do so. Too many kids are going hungry. How many environmental disasters do we have to have before we work to prevent them? How can small businesses be included in shaping our local economic plans? How can we better manage our land base and waterways for long-term sustainability? Why am I always paying more but getting less? These are your concerns I hear every day. These are the priorities that deserve more than talk.
As we all know, talk is cheap. Action is what really matters. I want to see more action from government this February, and I know you do too. You can count on me to hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire and bring your priorities to Victoria. We are strong, caring people here in the Kootenays and I’ll continue to represent that. Watch live anytime at www.leg.bc.ca or visit my YouTube channel to see what I am doing in Victoria on your behalf.
Footnote: Please don’t forget to let the government know you want them to end the child support clawback before Feb. 28. It is rare that government wants to hear direct feedback on a social program that affects thousands of children and their communities, so don’t let this opportunity go by. Send your email to both firstname.lastname@example.org and Michelle.Mungall.MLA@leg.bc.ca. Go to www.singlemothersbc.org to learn more about this issue and about how you can help to reduce child poverty.
Michelle Mungall is the member of the legislative assembly for the Nelson-Creston provincial riding, and is the Opposition critic for social development.