Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hardest Working MLA of the Year

What a great way to start 2020!

My sincerest gratitude to the Times Colonist’s readership for this award.  I’m so grateful to be recognized for my efforts in this way. 

Helping people is the top priority of this government, and of my community office. We are working hard to make life more affordable, more fair, and better for British Columbians.

Whether we’re tackling poverty, un-affordability, the housing crisis, affordable child care, climate change, or moving the dial on medical service wait times and finding primary care doctors – we are working hard.

On affordable housing – our work is starting to take shape with 20,000 new homes completed or underway in nearly 80 communities throughout B.C., and more in the planning stage.

On climate action – B.C. is leading the country. Our CleanBC plan is beginning to create real change. As an example, our government’s incentives to help people move to zero-emission vehicles are being embraced throughout the province. We’ve also passed new legislation calling for a phase-out of gas-powered light-duty vehicles by 2040.

On affordability – by now most people in BC have paid their last MSP premium – ever. The elimination of MSP Premiums and the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit is the largest middle-class tax reduction in a generation.

Our B.C. government has also increased investments into the Ministry of Agriculture by 15% in order to help farmers farm and to protect farmland for future generations. As the Minister of Agriculture I have developed new programs to increase access to B.C.-grown and -produced foods in health care facilities. This not only improves the freshness and quality of the meals served, it better supports the patients’ experience and outcomes – and the livelihood of B.C.’s farmers and producers.

And in the process of doing all this – and more, our government has eliminated B.C.’s operating debt and posted budget surpluses. We also have the lowest unemployment rate across the country – for two years straight. B.C. continues to be the only province with a Triple AAA rating with all three international credit rating agencies.

I know very well that much more needs to be done – and that is why I am so excited for the future. We are just getting started! It’s a privilege to be the MLA for Saanich South and to serve as the Minister of Agriculture. Thank you for the opportunity – and for the recognition!

Warmest Regards,

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Chin Yuen Art Show
Join me as we celebrate the changing season with hot apple cider and sweets surrounded by the amazing work of international award-winning Saanich South contemporary artist Chin Yuen.

Chin will be in attendance. 

Born in Malaysia, Chin studied in Singapore and England before moving to Canada for further education. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a Master of Arts from UVic. After graduation, Chin moved to Japan and Italy, where she taught English and Fine Arts for several years before returning home to Canada. Yuen continues to travel extensively for work and pleasure. She sees her diverse cultural exposures as an artistic asset that, combined with her love of imaginative inventions, inspires and shapes her creations.

For more than 20 years, she has exhibited internationally. Her dynamic abstract paintings are on the
covers of international textbooks and the walls of residential homes, hotels, health care centres, corporate buildings, and now it is our privilege and delight to display then throughout the Saanich South community office.

The piece that was selected for the show poster and invite is called, "Winter Spring." Chin tells us that the painting is an abstract version of snow thawing to reveal colours, forms, and growth.
"All my paintings in the show will have the quality of an unveiling as they are all built with layers of colours and details."
For more of Chin's incredible work visit: ChinYuen Art

Art Opening & Holiday Open House:
Thursday, December 19 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Winter Spring Art Show runs:
December 4 to March 1, Monday to Thursday from 10 am - 2 pm

I look forward to the opportunity to connect with constituents this holiday season.

Please do join us.

PS - please bring a pair or more of new, warm adult-size socks for our winter sock drive. We will make sure they find their way safely to wanting, cold feet.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Global Climate Strike
This Friday we will see youth and adults around the world take part in a Global Climate Strike. This will mark a moment in history where our fears of the future and our hope for change merge together in a united cry. These precious hours where people will unite will be a chance for many to use their voice to communicate with leaders around the world, and for others to stand in support of those voices.

I have been an environmentalist and an ardent food security champion most of my life. What has fuelled my work has been my deep belief that climate change will affect our food systems around the globe and my time and effort should be spent trying as hard as I can to support a sustainable food system here in B.C. in order to create some resiliency.  It’s not hard to see that agriculture is already being affected around the globe. Soils are eroding due to drought and misuse, crops are failing because of changing weather patterns, pests are migrating and threatening new areas of food production, and food insecurity is on the rise.

Agriculture can - and must - be part of solving the climate crisis. Being totally committed to supporting a sustainable food system here in British Columbia is one way to prepare ourselves for an unstable food future due to climate change. But I believe that we can also use agricultural practices to aid in the restoration of biodiversity, help with carbon sequestering, and bring more new and young people opportunities to participate in a sustainable food economy.

We have incredible farmers and food producers all across our province who are introducing technology that allows for a smaller environmental footprints, ranchers working hard on carbon sequestration projects, and communities figuring out how to become more food secure and less dependent on imports.

The voices that will come together on Friday will have a critical message for us all as leaders. On Friday, not only will I be listening to those voices, but I will be meeting with a young farmer who is part of a solution.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Alex and Jo Campbell Centre for Wellness and Health at Camosun College Interurban
This September I had the honour of officially opening the new Alex and Jo Campbell Centre for Wellness and Health at Camosun College Interurban as the MLA for Saanich South. I then stood shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredible team of visionary ribbon-cutters. I was so proud to be a part of it. The day also served as a great reminder to me of why it’s so important to believe in and support British Columbians all across our province.

The Alex and Jo Campbell Centre for Wellness and Health is a 21st-century LEED-built facility that is home to Camosun College's 15 health and human services programs including nursing, medical radiology, addictions counselling, community support workers, and more.This state-of-the-art 95,000 square feet building is filled with cutting-edge equipment and classrooms, and is absolutely beautiful with wood construction and lots of natural light.

The Centre was built to LEED Gold standard as part of our government's CleanBC commitment. It uses energy sustainability strategies, including passive exterior solar shades, high-performance exterior materials to minimize heat loss and lower air conditioning requirements to decrease energy consumption. This magnificent facility will host the learning experiences of more than 1000 students at any given time. This facility is an investment in our future - in so many ways.

What I’ve just described is a $63 million dollar investment of which $40.3 million was invested by our government. The additional dollars came from various funders including the very generous Campbell Family - the founders of Thrifty Foods, as well as the Sisters of St. Ann who have a rich history in healthcare in our city, and Camosun College itself - to name a few. This new facility is a huge asset to the entire region as it will draw students of all ages from all over Canada.

But while this combined investment paid for the wooden beams, the state-of-the-art study spaces, the classrooms – I think it’s pretty much impossible to put a value on the learning and personal growth that will happen in these beautiful walls as students become professionals that contribute significantly to the well-being and the economic engine of their communities.

Before the official opening I was fortunate to have a tour of this special place with Camosun President Sherri Bell, Dean Cynthia Smith, Board Chair Laylee Rohani – along with many excited students! The whole building was teeming with energy. I don’t think I saw one student the entire time I was there without a smile on their face.

To be a part of this kind of local investment in people is amazing. This new Centre will give learners a place they can feel proud of, a place where they can excel and grow, and where they are eager to come to each day. It makes me so happy to see our provincial government supporting such an outstanding facility in my riding of Saanich South.

I also want to make the point that this investment isn’t just about believing in students – it’s about believing in all of us. It’s about believing that the access to the services you and I depend on, almost daily, for our health and well-being matter.

The students in this building are our future nurses, support workers, radiology technicians, and community mental health workers. They’re the people who will help our grandparents, or our children, our neighbours, or maybe even you and me. They'll be there for us in vulnerable situations that may require highest level of care possible. Our investment in such a state-of-the-art facility means our students will have the training necessary to excel in these situations, to provide a high level of care for their entire professional lives.

And you just can’t put a price on that.

So, yes, we were at Camosun to celebrate an investment in the tens of millions of dollars and to officially open am incredible health learning Center. But we were also there to celebrate something bigger than that: a government, and a community, that believes in the people who live here and in improving our shared quality of life.

It was an honour to be part of it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

 Keating X Rd. Flyover Overpass
This month's announcement about a permanent fix to the dangerous left turn onto Keating Cross Road from the Pat Bay Highway is welcome news.

If you’ve lived in Saanich South for even a small amount of time, you know how essential the Pat Bay Highway is. It is our link to the ferries, the airport, many of our homes, and the businesses we cherish throughout the Saanich Peninsula – including the Keating Cross Road area. Because the Pat Bay Hwy is such a vital connector it is essential that it is safe and comfortable to navigate. But what I’ve heard from constituents time and again is that they did not feel safe making the left turn onto Keating Cross Road. They found crossing two oncoming traffic lanes from a dead stop nerve-wracking. Equally, cars travelling southbound need to be hyper-aware of cars who are trying to make the turn. I’ve heard from some constituents that they stopped going to local businesses on Keating Cross Road because they were afraid of the drive.

Today’s announcement is a huge boost for travellers' safety with the construction of a “flyover” overpass. Once built, you’ll cross directly over the Pat Bay Hwy to get to Keating Cross Road, meaning you won’t have to worry at all about oncoming traffic. As part of the project, Keating Cross Road itself will also be widened, and will include new sidewalks that will increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Safety on the Pat Bay Hwy has been a priority for me from the start. In my first year as MLA for Saanich South I did a community survey on the issue only to find that it – not-surprisingly – is a priority for many of my constituents as well. Over the years I held several community meetings about the Highway's safety – specifically the Sayward Road intersection. Thanks to the dedication of community members in Saanich South we were successful in getting the government of the day to make the necessary safety improvements – but it was a fight every step of the way.

I'm pleased to say that Transportation Minister Claire Trevena’s approach has been remarkably different. Last year Minister Trevena and I worked together to see an advance left turn onto the Pat Bay Hwy from Haliburton Rd. put into place. For years there had been an extended delay turning left onto the highway to travel into Victoria, especially during school hours – sometimes you had to wait as long as five light cycles! Not only was this a traffic congestion and pollution problem, but impatient drivers were sometimes making risky decisions so they wouldn’t have to wait for another light cycle. I was able to explain the need – and the benefits afforded by a solution and we moved forward quickly with change. I'm pleased to say that the new advance left has eased this problem and increased Pay Bay Hwy safety.

Minister Trevena has taken the same measured, active approach to the issue at Keating Cross Road.  She listened, understood there was a problem that impacted thousands of people, and went about fixing it. Today’s announcement wouldn’t have been possible without our partners in both the Federal and municipal governments, and the passionate community advocates who lead the charge for change.

It’s re-assuring to know that we were listened to, our problem is understood, and a solution is on the way.​

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A driver's medical fitness plays a key role in a person's ability to navigate the roads safely – as well as the public’s safety. The primary tool used to assess whether a driver is medically fit to drive is the Driver’s Medical Examination Report (DMER). This report is completed by a physician or nurse practitioner providing information for RoadSafetyBC Driver Medical Fitness staff in their assessment of the severity, progression, treatment or effects of any medical condition(s) that the driver may have that could affect their fitness to drive.

Driver Medical Examination Reports are completed at various times and intervals depending on:
The age of the driver
The class of driver’s licence held
When a driver has a known medical condition that may affect driving
When a reliable report is received indicating that an individual may have a condition that affects driving

There are currently two types of DMERs:
BLUE FORMS which are sent to drivers with known, or suspected, medical conditions
YELLOW FORMS which are sent to drivers when they turn 80 and every two years thereafter and to commercial drivers at specified intervals.
You can see a sample form HERE.

If you have received one of these forms you are to take it to your family doctor - or a medical clinic to have it completed and then submitted to RoadSafetyBC. This will involve an examination.

The complete cost of the examination and report completion is NOT covered under BC Medical Services. The amount that a doctor's office charges patients for the completion of the form varies from office-to-office and clinic-to-clinic. In BC, doctors are entitled to set their own fees for the completion of a DMER. We understand that this is often an issue with our constituents, and sometimes even a hardship. Doctors of BC advises that it recommends that doctors reduce or waive the DMER fee for patients that are experiencing economic hardship. Let the doctor know if this is the case.

While our office can't change the costs, we can try and keep track of them for you so that you can make a decision about where you go to have your DMER done, and how much you pay.

Here is a current list of the associated fees from local medical clinics - as of July 22, 2019

Name of Clinic (link)
Blue Form
Yellow Form
Royal Oak Medical

Did you know you can find out approximate wait times on MediMap? Go HERE.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Keeping' Seniors on the Move!
Edited July 29, 2019: We understand that with a driver's license can come a feeling of autonomy, independence, a certain freedom, and often great joy. It doesn't matter if you're 16, 46 or 86 - the feelings are so often the same. The difference is that at 46 - we take it for granted that we are fit and allowed to drive. Not-so-much at 16 or 86 though.

But the issue isn't about age - it's about safety. It's ALL about safety. The safety of the drivers, their passengers, and of the people in our bike lanes, on the sidewalks and crosswalks.

As we age our faculties can deteriorate - some more than others. As well, sickness can affect anyone at any time. Many people are able to drive a car safely until they are at a ripe old age, while other's abilities are more fickle and fleeting - for all sorts of reasons.

It is essential that our communities have a way to determine who is safe to drive, and who is not so that we can keep our roads safe for everyone to enjoy.

That's where the Enhanced Road Assessment comes in. It is our society's tool for checking in on people's medical fitness to drive.

If you're reading this it's likely that you or someone you care about has received a letter from RoadSafetyBC asking that a Enhanced Road Assessment be completed within a specific time frame. Referrals to the ERA are not only made on the basis of a driver's age; drivers of any age may be asked to complete an ERA. 

That letter can be scary for some. 

That's why, on July 23, 2019, we brought together our friends at ICBC's Drive Safety program to talk to the community about what they can expect from the Assessment, and how best to navigate it.

The topic seems to be a hot one as almost 100 community members come out to the Church of the Nazarene FiresideRoom for our informal afternoon to hear all about the ERA. The wonderful Colleen Woodger, ICBC's Community Road Safety Coordinator, an expert at providing educational resources
Almost 100 in attendance!
and all things RoadSafety, along with her colleague a road tester specialist Brett Kettler gave a great presentation and Q&A.

The two greeted all the attendees handing them some literature and welcoming them to the event. You can find the hand-outs HERE. They explained the difference between what was once a 'test' - and is now an 'Assessment' as well as  offering tips and pointers on preparing for and taking the assessment.

The ERA is a 90-minute process that involves a pre-trip vehicle orientation, two 20-minute driving sessions with a feedback component half-way through so you can improve and correct some areas that you might have not done your best on, and then a post-trip review. The assessment is conducted in a passenger vehicle provided by the driver and there's no computerized testing element or parallel parking at all! The car should be in good working order (no check-engine lights or cracks in the windshield).

Brett Kettler & Colleen Woodger from ICBC's RoadSafetyBC
The two spoke of how important it is to be at your best for the session, suggesting that you reschedule if you're suffering from a cold, a kink in your neck, or even a sleepless night. They went over some basic rules of the road and advised that even if you've been driving for years (or maybe especially if you have) brushing up on the rules of the road before the assessment is a good idea.

Colleen cited things like rolling stops (California stops), shoulder-checking and bike lane navigation as areas that would be wise to go over before the assessment. Make sure you come to a full stop at the stop line, check for pedestrians and bikes, and then inch forward. Make sure you give as full a shoulder-check as you - again paying special attention to possible cyclists and pedestrians.

Brett suggested going over to the testing station area at Bordon and McKenzie to check it out ahead of time so there's no surprises come assessment day. The area has new bike lanes, a three-way stop / bike lane intersection, a traffic circle, as well as playground and school zones. It's got it all.

Susan Sowden from BC Transit
Colleen suggested going to the ICBC website to find resources that may help you decide if and who to enlist should you or the examiner feel that you would benefit from a refresher course. There are three local ICBC-approved driving schools listed. You can find out more HERE.

We were fortunate to have BC Transit's Susan Sowden on hand to share some fabulous info on just how accommodating handyDART is! Did you know that you can book an appointment to have handyDART driver come with you to buy a scooter - so you can make sure that it fits onto the bus before you buy it! They will also come around to your home so you can practice getting on the bus with your scooter a few times when the bus is not on shift! What incredible service! Find out more HERE.

Cst. Andrea Toombes & Lana
It was wonderful to see Constable Andrea Toombs from Saanich Police and Jim Pullman of Unifor Local 333-BC stop in. We also had surprise guest Steve Wallace from Wallace's Driving School pop onto the mic and offer a couple great tips for preparing for your medical exam (DMER). He suggested that you bring with you a recent driver's abstract (free from the ICBC website HERE) and your insurance papers showing whatever discount you may be enjoying in your licensed vehicle.

We've done a post on the DMER and the fees charged by local clinics - which seem to vary quite a bit. You can find that post  HERE.

The afternoon included tea and coffee and the amazing baking of my Constituency Assistant Maureen - which was very popular!

If you were there I hope you found it as interesting and informative as I did. Sending a huge thank you to all the wonderful people that came - and that helped make it happen. It was such a great afternoon!

We'll be hosting another ERA info session next year. Sign up for our email updates HERE - so we can keep you in the loop!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

BCTESG - $1200 Grant
Are you a parent or a guardian of a child born in 2006 – or 2010 or later?

Did you know that there’s a $1200 education savings grant available for kids between the ages of 6 and 9 years old (plus the 2006 kids)?

It’s true – and 40% of families aren’t taking advantage of it.

It’s called the BC Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) – and it could make a huge difference in your child’s life.

The B.C. Government will contribute $1,200 to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) of eligible children that can then be used for a wide range of post-secondary educational programs, including vocational schools, apprenticeships, trade schools, colleges, universities, and other certified institutions - this even includes some full-time education programs outside of Canada.

But – if your child was born in 2006 - you must act before August 14!

There was an extension given to children born in 2006 because of the timing of the implementation of the grant - but you only have until August 14th, 2019 to apply. You can find all the details HERE.

If your child was born in 2010 or later you have until the day BEFORE their 9th birthday to apply.
Over the next decade, projections show that most job openings in BC will require some form of post-secondary education. This grant may help your child get the leg-up they will need to succeed – whatever ‘success’ looks like to them.

What if you can’t afford to contribute to an RESP at this time?

That’s no problem - this one-time $1200 grant is not a matching grant. You need not put any additional money into the RESP, so everyone that has a qualifying child can apply for the $1200. Parents and families who can’t afford to put aside savings at this time can still start an RESP – and apply for the $1200. That said, even a small additional investment can grow over time and make it that much easier to pursue education after high school.

It’s a straight-forward application that you make through your bank or financial institution. If you don’t have an RESP set-up already shop around to find a RESP provider that meets your needs. Some banks RESP providers do not require any contributions to open the RESP, others do. Many don’t charge fees as well - it depends on the institution and the type of RESP.

If your child has already been named to a RESP, parents should make sure the RESP provider offers the grant. If not, parents may open another RESP at a participating provider in order to receive the grant. HERE is the list of banks and institutions that are participating.

Please share this post with family and friends who can benefit. This is a great opportunity and I want to make sure the amazing children in Saanich South take advantage of this opportunity.

Header photo credit: Fabian Blank, Unsplash

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Old Growth Forests
One of the many things that connects me to my constituency is shared values and the passion that we have for issues that arise from those values. Saanich Southites are an informed, passionate and engaged constituency of people. It's why I feel at home here, it's why I connect with this community so deeply.

Many of our shared values are around equality, dignity and respect. Respect for each other, and for our earth.

It is with these shared values as guides that we, as government, create policies and make decisions that affect an entire province of families, and ultimately generations of people. It is these shared values that we hold dear in our approach to protecting biodiversity and managing our amazing old growth forests. Values that we must balance as we care for our earth and while we ensure that workers and communities are supported.

And, Saanich South, I have heard from many of you that you are concerned about this balance. I hear you when you say that you understand that we have an industry, communities and families that have been neglected for far too long and need our support, and, as well, I hear that you treasure our old-growth forests, as I do, and that we have a duty to protect the precious bio-regions that we are the custodians of.

I have heard you, and we're still listening.

Our government is working to protect much of the old growth on the Coast, in the Great Bear Rainforest and on Vancouver Island. On the Island there are about 520,000 hectares of old growth forests that will not be logged (the equivalent of over 1,700 Cathedral Groves). Our old growth forests are protected in parks and other protected areas, wildlife habitat areas and old growth management areas. Old growth management areas are designated specifically to protect the biodiversity found in old growth ecosystems.

The previous BC Liberal government cut the Forest Service, and allowed the export of raw logs to skyrocket. Part of our strategy includes increasing monitoring, modernizing management practices, and ensuring we are getting more value out of every log. The forest sector is vital to the economy of Vancouver Island, generating more than 24,000 direct jobs and $3.1 billion in gross domestic product. We have just seen several hundred workers lose their jobs in the Interior, in part due to lack of logs. A moratorium would ultimately lead to more job loss on Vancouver Island. Ending logging in all old growth forests on Vancouver Island would shut down the forest industry. Lumber from old growth trees is used to make value-added wood products, such as doors, mouldings, flooring, and decking. Products made from old-growth timber are valued for their strength (tight grain) and beauty.

We believe we can find a balance between protecting the health and sustainability of our forests, and ensuring a robust forest industry that supports good-paying jobs for people across BC.

BC Timber Sales has plans to log less than 900 hectares of old growth forests on Vancouver Island this year.  The estimate of 8,800 hectares released by Sierra Club is not accurate.  BC Timber Sales has published preliminary maps in areas they intend to log over the next 10 to 15 years.  These are NOT final cutblocks or timber sale licences. The actual areas to be logged will be much smaller as plans are developed.

In BC, we plant three trees for each one that is harvested - and young trees can often take up carbon faster than mature stands. Over time, companies will need to transition to second-growth stands, but that can’t happen overnight. To begin with, there is limited second-growth available on the island, and harvesting those stands too early would mean in the next decade or two we would be facing timber shortages again. A second consideration is that most mills on the island are set up to process larger logs. Re-tooling those mills to process smaller logs would be costly and can’t be done overnight.

We're working on it, and it takes time. 

While ensuring supply is one component of stabilizing the economic situation, our government is also looking at changes to practices that will make better use of materials. This could make hundreds of thousands or even millions of cubic metres of fibre available to small producers and pulp mills - creating and sustaining small producer jobs.The San Group has communicated its plan to build a new mill in the Port Alberni area, which would process second growth logs.

Achieving that balance is key.

Right now we are working on a new old growth strategy. Initial amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act passed in the spring. These amendments protect endangered plant communities from logging. Public engagement on a second set of changes to the act began in late May, with the amendments likely to be introduced in 2020.

Public Engagement

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is conducting a Review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program (also known as the Managed Forest Program). The review is one of several policy reforms announced as part of the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative.

The review will examine how well the Private Managed Forest Land Program is meeting its goals to:
  • encourage private landowners to manage their lands for long-term forest production, and 
  • encourage sustainable forest management practices, including the protection of key public environmental values.
Public participation was invited in a couple of ways - an online survey and written submissions. The opportunity for public comment ended in July. Input received from the engagement process is an important part of the ministry’s review of the program. To determine where the program is most effective, and if improvements are needed, the ministry wishes to understand the different views and concerns of all British Columbians. The ministry plans to develop recommendations for fall 2019.
We also reached out to the forest and range industry, communities and organizations for their feedback on how we improve legislation on sustainably managing our forests and rangelands.

The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) governs the sustainable management of B.C.’s public forest and range resources. It covers planning and practices that protect environmental resources and public safety, as well as public oversight and administrative fairness for those who hold rights to forest and range resources.

Together, the Act and its regulations are the foundation for competitive forest and ranching industries, partnerships with Indigenous peoples, and stability for forestry and ranching-dependent communities.
We want to improve the legislation to ensure it will continue to sustainably manage our forests and rangelands. Guiding principles for proposed changes include putting the resiliency of the land first, public trusts, reconciliation with Indigenous Nations, scientific knowledge as well as flexibility.

Forest and range industry, communities and organizations provided written comments through stakeholder submissions.  Feedback was be accepted through mid July, 2019. 

Feedback from the engagement process will inform changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations that are planned over the next two years. A What We Heard Report will summarize comments received and be publicly available in fall 2019. We will post a link to that report as it becomes available this fall.

Currently there is an open call for input on Interior Forest Renewal – Forest Policy Initiative. That consultation process closes October 11, 2019.  I invite you to visit the engagement site for more info on how to provide input on a plethora of government policy consultations: HERE.

Your government is trying to achieve a balance that works for all British Columbians - based on our shared values. We know there is still a lot of work to do, and we’re committed to moving forward and doing more to protect our old growth forests. 

Please stay engaged, informed, and in touch.

UPDATED: Aug 8, 2019

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

How does the Budget get put together? Is there an opportunity for input?

The answer to that is YES! 

And - this year that opportunity is earlier than it has been in the past.
Our government wants to make sure that we include the input that we'll receive from British Columbians when we're making the decisions that we need to make around Budget 2020 and to do so, we need to hear from you, earlier.

Here's how it works...

A parliamentary committee of the legislative assembly, called The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, annually invites British Columbians to share their priorities and ideas for the next provincial budget. This process is meant to ensure that the priorities of the people of BC are included in the decisions that this government makes around financial priorities.

While the consultation has in the past taken place in the fall, this year it will take place in the summer to enable the committee to deliver its report earlier in the budget process. As such, the process opened on Monday, June 3, 2019. 
"Every year, the committee hears diverse perspectives and suggestions on a number of topics," said Bob D'Eith, committee chair. "Moving the consultation to June will allow for more time to review and consider this input and the recommendations put forward by the committee."

There are many opportunities and ways to participate. All BCers are encouraged to take part and share their views on the issues affecting their families and communities. That's individual citizens - like you - or larger groups from schools, neighbourhoods, communities, causes or organizations.

British Columbians can provide their input in several ways - whatever is most convenient and comfortable. We want to make this an inclusive process. It is, after all, your Budget!

You can submit input by speaking with the committee in-person or via teleconference at a public hearing; by providing a written, audio or video submission; or simply by filling out an online survey. HERE is the link for submission info.

Public hearings are being held all over the province. The public hearing for the Capital Region will be held in Colwood  on Monday June 10, 2019 from 8:45 am - 4:00 pm in the City of Colwood Council Chambers at 3300 Wishart Road. 

Registration for public hearings is open now via the committee's website HERE

Teleconference opportunities and interpretive services can be requested by calling 250 356-2933 or 1 877 428-8337 (toll-free in B.C.).

The deadline for all input is Friday, June 28, 2019, at 5 p.m. (Pacific time). The committee intends to release its report in late July or early August.

The members of the committee are:
  • Bob D'Eith, MLA Maple Ridge-Mission (chair)
  • Dan Ashton, MLA Penticton (deputy chair)
  • Doug Clovechok, MLA Columbia River-Revelstoke
  • Rich Coleman, MLA Langley East
  • Mitzi Dean, MLA Esquimalt-Metchosin
  • Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA Courtenay-Comox
  • Nicholas Simons, MLA Powell River-Sunshine Coast
AND -  this is the first year that BC Government has multiple languages provided for 2020 budget consultation papers.  See HERE for non-English documents.

It's YOUR Budget - get involved and have your say!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Recycling in the Capital Region

The Saanich South Constituency Office has been getting lots of e-mails about recycling this month so we thought a blog post was in order. Please do feel free to share it!

Please know that while it may be a little less convenient for some, there are lots of options for making sure that our plastics, metal, glass and papers stay out of the landfill.

First of all - Blue Box. Not a lot has changed there – it is still a pretty comprehensive resource. And there is some confusion about what is accepted (yes - clam shells are still accepted!). See the full list HERE.

We realize that our good friends (and neighbours!) at the Bottle Depot are no longer accepting any Blue Box items or plastic wraps and bags, stryofoam or flexible plastic packaging, BUT please rest assured that they are still accepting can and bottles that offer refunds. And – at their Glanford and Queens locations they still accept batteries, light bulbs and lighting fixtures, small appliances and electronics. For their full list go HERE.

Hartland Depot still accepts ALL recyclable items for FREE – including the small propane tanks, plastic overwrap and styrofoam. They're open until 2 pm on Saturdays for your convenience (and throughout the week as well. Check out their hours online).

Plastic bags and overwrap, foam packaging, and other flexible plastic packaging can also be returned to London Drugs locations – yeah London Drugs! See all the details HERE

Please know that RecycleBC changes will see that all recyclable items that were accepted – are still accepted – just at different locations. The Victoria area recycling info can be found HERE – with a Return-it Depot on Ellery Street in Esquimalt.

As well, Pacific Mobile is still operating at Reynolds School on the 4th Saturday of every month – as well as other locations around the CRD. You can find out more info HERE.

Please know that this government is committed to working to not only recycle responsibly – but to reduce waste at all stages of product life. BC is a leader in sustainable environmental management and we understand that effective waste management procedures and solutions contribute a great deal to preserving our environment. This is an ever-changing opportunity – and challenge – and this BC government is working hard to see that we are doing the best we can to manage product and packaging life responsibly.

Find out more here:

I hope this is a helpful resource for you. Don't hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions at all! We're happy to help.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Good Food = Good Health. Seems simple, right?

On a Friday in April, an idea that I have been working on for many years finally came to fruition. It's literally a dream come true for me. 

I was in Pentiction to announce Feed BC, our new initiative that ensures more of the food served to people that are in the care of our government facilities is grown, harvested or processed in B.C. Penticton and the Interior Health seemed like the perfect place to launch this exciting initiative.
Hospitals in Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon, Penticton, Oliver, Salmon Arm and Williams Lake
photo from Global News
will benefit from this initial launch of the initiative.
By using B.C. ingredients, Interior Health is improving the patient experience while at the same time supporting B.C. growers, producers and processors from all over the province.

We’ve partnered with Interior Health to encourage, inspire, and support a shift to more BC foods in health-care and other government facilities! This is a true game changer – not only does it benefit our agriculture sector, but healthy, great-tasting, and locally-sourced meals can also help people during recovery. 

It’s a win-win scenario, and I'm so excited that this pilot could easily serve as a model that can be implement in other public institutions across the province!

Learn more about the Interior Health launch HERE. We're hoping to make more announcements - closer to home - soon!

Friday, May 17, 2019

This week is all about the Bees!

Our community office is honouring the amazing little creatures – and all the essential pollinators – by helping the community create some nourishment for them.

Bring a garden pot or two* by our office parking lot on Sunday May 26th between 11 am and 1 pm. We’ll fill them with wildflower seeds and local potting soil from our friends at TufTurf so we can co-create some beautiful flower offerings for our local pollinators.

Sunday May 26
11 am - 1 pm
4243 Glanford Ave.

Ever thought of beeing a beekeeper? We'll have Nairn Holloster from the Capital Region Beekeepers Association on hand to answer your questions about all things beekeeping! As well as displays from our friends at the Island Pollinator Initiative.

We're serving up local honey lemonade and have some honey sticks for the kids from Urban Bee.

Bring the whole family – and your pots!

Bee there!

Just can't get enough of this bee thing? After you have your pots filled - head over to see our friends at Swan Lake nature Sanctuary as they celebrate Bee Day on Sunday too - from Noon to 3 pm

You'll learn about how you can encourage bees in your backyards, about Bee songs, they'll have bee crafts and eve some bee spit to taste (really?)

Find out more on their website.

* This is while supplies last. Limit of two reasonable size pots so there's some for everyone. We'll have some small pots to give away as well - perfect for window sills. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Special Project on children with neuro-diverse special needs. 

Do you have a child or work with children that have Autism or neuro-diverse special needs (e.g.: ASD, FASD, Developmental Delay)?

Your government would like to hear from you on June 3 - or before June 7!

The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth invites all British Columbians to participate in their special project on assessment and eligibility processes for children and youth with neuro-diverse special needs.

You are invited to share your input, experiences and recommendations by speaking with the Committee at a public hearing or by making a written, audio or video submission. Specifically, they would like to know your thoughts on how assessment and eligibility processes
for children and youth with neuro-diverse special needs can be improved.

The public hearing will be taking place in Victoria on Monday, June 3, 2019 from 9am-4pm at the Parliament Buildings - in the Douglas Fir Committee Room. The Committee is hoping that constituents and organizations in Saanich South may be interested in participating. Spots are still available for this public hearing and teleconference can also be arranged for those unable to attend in person.

Registration to reserve a speaking time is available on the Committee’s website HERE, or by calling the Parliamentary Committees Office 250-356-2933. Speaking times are 15 minutes – 10 minutes for the presentation and 5 minutes for questions from Committee Members.

Interested constituents and organizations can also provide input by making a written, audio or video submission HERE.

The deadline for input is Friday, June 7 at 5:00 p.m.

The Committee will consider all input and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly in a report which is expected to be released in the early fall.

The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth is one of ten permanent all-party committees of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The Committee works to foster greater awareness and understanding among legislators and the public of the B.C. child and youth-serving system. The Committee also provides a public forum for discussion of reports by the Representative for Children and Youth.

Further information on the work of the Committee is available on the Committee’s website HERE.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Touring Haliburton Farm.

What a thrill it was to be able to do a farm tour – in my own neighbourhood this weekend!

I'm so proud of the farmers at 
Haliburton Community Organic Farm and very grateful for the time they took at this busy time of year to show me what's new and what's happening.

Not only is Halliburton a feast for the eyes, it turned out to be an actual feast! I took home some incredible produce, including crispy radish and delicious, sweet arugula picked fresh by farmer Kevin Allen.

I also managed to get a start on my own garden with four beautiful tomato plants from the Hali Plant Sale. So looking forward to eating fresh, organic tomatoes – straight from the vine!

Thank you for taking such great care in feeding our community Haliburton Farm!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Donations at Bottle Depot support Cool Aid for the Entire Month of May

Look for special bins at all three Bottle Depot locations to donate your beverage containers to our friends at Cool Aid this month (including our wonderful neighbours here on Glanford Ave)!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Celebrating Provincial Funding for the Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara!

“The historic Topaz Sikh Gurdwara is an important part of the Greater Victoria community and provides a welcoming place for people of all faiths,” said Premier John Horgan. “In the spirit of Vaisakhi and the Sikh practice of sewa, or selfless community service, this funding will allow the temple to make much-needed upgrades so that it can keep serving thousands of people each year.”
The KDS Gurdwara (temple) opened in 1912 in Victoria and is one of the two oldest operating Gurdwaras in North America. It requires upgrades to meet modern accessibility standards and the needs of a growing and aging community.

The gurdwara provides a place for people to gather for community celebrations and prayer services. It also serves vegetarian lunches to thousands of people of all religions, cultures and nationalities throughout the year. The temple is an important place for children and youth to connect with their culture and receive support from other members of the community, including the more than 300 seniors who attend the temple regularly.
“The Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society has been providing services to people in Greater Victoria for more than 100 years and we want to help them continue to reach out to everyone,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “The gurdwara is in dire need of upgrades to the facilities and this grant will improve accessibility and ensure it can continue to welcome people from Victoria and around the world.”
The provincial grant, distributed through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, will support accessibility and safety upgrades to the gurdwara’s kitchen, common areas, main entrances and outdoor decks.

Quick Facts:
  • In 2012, the KDS Gurdwara celebrated its 100th anniversary.
  • The gurdwara currently serves more than 600 meals, free of charge, to people in need in downtown Victoria each weekend.
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing distributed end-of-year contingency grants for 2018-19 for infrastructure projects in four B.C. communities.
  • In order to access this one-time grant funding, eligible organizations submitted proposals detailing the scope of their project, budget breakdowns and how the funding would meet the needs of their community
  • B.C. is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside India.
  • The KDS Gurdwara (temple) opened in 1912 in Victoria and is one of the two oldest operating Gurdwaras in North America. It requires upgrades to meet modern accessibility standards and the needs of a growing and aging community.
  • The gurdwara provides a place for people to gather for community celebrations and prayer services. It also serves vegetarian lunches to thousands of people of all religions, cultures and nationalities throughout the year. The temple is an important place for children and youth to connect with their culture and receive support from other members of the community, including the more than 300 seniors who attend the temple regularly.
  • “The Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society has been providing services to people in Greater Victoria for more than 100 years and we want to help them continue to reach out to everyone,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “The gurdwara is in dire need of upgrades to the facilities and this grant will improve accessibility and ensure it can continue to welcome people from Victoria and around the world.”
  • The provincial grant, distributed through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, will support accessibility and safety upgrades to the gurdwara’s kitchen, common areas, main entrances and outdoor decks.