Happy New Year everyone, and goodbye to the political whirlwind that was 2017. After 16 years under one party, citizens voted for change. Along with my caucus colleagues, three Green MLAs were elected, and an historic agreement with them has allowed government to take some bold measures to restore services and to make life more affordable. For starters in 2018, our MSP premiums have been cut in half.
While not all our government’s plans have unfolded as quickly as some might have expected, the government made good on other key promises. Among them, ending the influence of high-rollers in the government decision-making process. The wild-west free-for-all, as it was sometimes called, has ended. There are now limits on how much people can give to political parties, and temporary public campaign funding ends after the next election.
Another key promise was to give the people of BC a choice in how they elect politicians. A referendum on proportional representation will be held later this year. Voters will choose either a new system or to remain with first-past-the-post, which often results in governments that are not required to accept advice or input from perspectives other than their own.
The past year has been devastating in human cost due to the unrelenting opioid overdose crisis. The newly established Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is focused on programs to promote health and prevent drug mis-use, and it is hoped that the tide of loss will recede.
DriveAble, the ill-conceived, unscientific and blatantly unfair computer and road test that was forced on seniors has been eliminated after a long period of advocacy by citizens and NDP MLAs alike. I am so sorry for the many who had their mobility curtailed unnecessarily.
Locally, new discussions on Crown land use do not exclude the possibility of new protected areas, which is good news. And the process of increasing the number of long-term beds for our seniors seems slow, but I know that discussions are bearing fruit. We also will be undertaking a comprehensive review of the coastal ferry service to determine how and what improvements could benefit the public.
We have a lot of work to do, and many tasks to complete in the coming year; we look forward to facing the challenges ahead. I am glad to be working with a government that acts with reason and compassion. I wish you all the best for 2018.