Well Mr. Premier, it’s getting close to the end of the year, and I figured this would be a great time to take a look at the overall performance of you and your government over the past twelve months.
I recall there were great expectations after you and the Governator got together a few months ago for that excellent photo op. You seemed to get all hyped about green programs but, unless I’ve missed something, nothing’s happened. (I still like the picture of you and Arnie though!)
The child poverty thing still concerns me Mr. Premier. Seems BC still leads the country in this arena. We continue to have the highest rate of child poverty in Canada according to the latest statistics. I wonder, is there some way we could link some anti-child poverty programs to the 2010 Winter Olympics? I’m hoping with all the good economic news that you and your government continue to disseminate throughout the media, you could figure out a way to improve our stats in this particular area.
And while we’re talking about poverty, how’s that pesky notion of increasing the minimum wage coming along? Seems to me that child poverty and minimum wage just might be connected. Now, I’m no economist, but the two could be connected. I’m thinking that if parents made at least $10 per hour, that maybe the child poverty rate might go down a touch. But I’m sure you’re more aware of the intricacies of this than I –what with all your consultants and economic advisors.
And talking of poverty, I’ve been listening to the CBC’s annual food bank drive on the radio. Did you know Mr. Premier, that according to the CBC, over 40,000 kids in BC need to use the services of a foodbank just to get by? I’m sure you’re as shocked by this statistic as I was….forty thousand!! You know Gord, in a province like ours, with all our resources and so-called economic health, the fact that food banks even exist is a black mark on our collective humanity. Imagine being a kid in BC and not knowing where your next meal might come from. So, did you donate? Maybe you should have a conversation with Prime Minister Steve Harper. Perhaps help him appreciate that this statistic is profoundly un-Canadian! Especially when the incomes of Canada’s richest went up by 31 percent, but the income of the poorest of Canadian families with children went up 18%. I wonder Gord, could we not be leading the country in eradicating child poverty rather than leading the country in allowing the highest rate of child poverty to exist? The report written by the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition states that one out of every five children in BC lives in poverty. Coalition spokesperson Adrienne Montani stated that “British Columbia has the worst rate of child poverty among families where at least one parent is working full time all year. It means their parents are working for very low wages. It probably means there’s a lot of family stress.”
Now Gord, as a parent, these statistics have to disturb you. What, I wonder, is your government willing to do to address this inequity? Montani stated that: “The provincial Government should raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.” Does this make sense to you Gord? Is there some reason you and your government are not willing to enact this legislation? After all, you had no such compunction when it came to raising your own salaries this past year.
So, I’ve also noticed you allowed the TILMA legislation to slide off the books. I’m hoping that’s due to the wave of negative reaction to your secret deal that you and your government tried to pass without exposing it to the light of day. Or maybe it was just one of those days that you didn’t show up in the legislature.
And the never-ending story of BC Ferries! Gord, it seems you just don’t get it when it comes to the ongoing saga of the ferries. You just can’t stand back and say it has nothing to do with you when you and your government wrote and rammed through the legislation that enacted the BC Ferries Corporation process. It has everything to do with you! The ferries are our highway system. They always have been and they always will be. You just can’t legislate that away! And Gord, if you don’t understand this fact, then I can only assume that either you don’t care or you just don’t get it. You seem to have no compunction when it comes to directing increasing amounts of taxpayers dollars to the cost overruns of the Vancouver Convention Centre. How about identifying some of those funds for the ferries so those of us who live here can continue to live here? Now that would be a great Christmas present!
And Mr. Premier, I also have to wonder about the fancy new office renovations in the Ministry of Children and Families – about $560,000 if I’m not mistaken. I wonder, couldn’t that have been better spent on children and families? And one last thing Gord, assuming you and your government support the whole Islands Trust thing – you know with that “preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the trust area and of the province generally” mandate - since coming to power your government reduced all support of this legislation so that now you contribute less than 2.6% of the total budget? After all, this unique legislation recognizes the unique and special environmental heritage that the southern Gulf Islands holds for all of BC and indeed the world. I’m thinking, ecologically speaking, that investing more dollars in the Islands Trust might not be a bad thing. You might want to talk this over with Arnie.
Mr. Premier, there is so much else I’d love to chat about, but this is the season of peace and joy and compassion for all, for our families and our loved ones. I wish you a happy Christmas and sincerely hope that in the coming year, your and your government will actually focus on and work to address some of the inequalities and inconsistencies that are so obvious to so many in our beautiful province.
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