Thursday, October 27, 2016

Saanich News: B.C. child care costs must be more affordable

OPINION - MLA REPORT
By Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, October 25 2016

Anyone who has raised children knows it is very challenging. The first five years before kindergarten are especially demanding for parents as they try to give kids the full-time high-quality care they need while at the same time earn the money the family requires to get by. If you are a single parent or don’t have a lot of resources or family support this can become an almost impossible workload.
It is well accepted that strategic government investment in young children creates a lifetime of benefits not just for those children but also for the society and economy as a whole. Making sure children get a good start in life benefits us all.
Regrettably Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal government have a long history of failing children who need help. This painful fact is evident when it comes to affordable child care in B.C.
You don’t need to take my word for it. Even the B.C. Chamber of Commerce has called out the B.C. Liberal government on this issue, noting that child care costs in B.C. continue to increase year after year while the availability of the needed services is decreasing. In their 2016/2017 Policy and Position Manual, the chamber makes an economic argument: the government should invest in child care because the economy as a whole benefits with more people in the workforce. First Call, a child and youth advocacy coalition, estimates that every public dollar invested in child care generates a return of $2.54 to our economy and that investing in the child care sector has a bigger job multiplier effect than in any other sector.
In addition to these economic arguments, there are compelling moral reasons to invest in child care. As a society we have an obligation to take care of each other and especially the most vulnerable among us. All children in B.C. deserve a good start in life. It’s that simple. For those who are struggling on a low income, the lack of affordable child care creates a tremendous obstacle to finding and keeping employment. By helping children with affordable child care we help parents create a better life for themselves and their families.
Child care costs in this region are normally at least $800 month and often substantially more. It is no wonder then that after housing, child care is the second highest cost facing B.C. families. It is another concerning example of the affordability crisis in B.C.
The evidence of the B.C. Liberal government’s failure on this issue is clear. B.C. invests just $398 a year per regulated child care space. That is less than half the Canadian average of $838 a year.
For the last 15 years the B.C. Liberal government has demonstrated they can’t get this right. In 2001, as one of new government’s first acts, the B.C. Liberal government and then-deputy premier Christy Clark cancelled a universal childcare initiative launched by the previous B.C. New Democratic government in partnership with the federal government. In the 2002 budget, the B.C. Liberal government drastically reduced funding for child care. B.C.’s total public investment in regulated child care decreased by $16 million between 2009 and 2012 alone. We regularly hear promises and announcements but the problem has not been addressed.
I’m sometimes criticized for always criticizing the government. First off, calling the government out is an important part of my job as a member of the official opposition.  Secondly, the official opposition has and will continue to put forward many clear policies and proposals.
When it comes to the lack of affordable child-care, the official opposition is proposing a $10 a day child care program. Once fully implemented, parents will be able to secure a spot in a regulated child care program for $10 per day attended. The cost to the province would be offset in part by increased income and sales tax resulting from more parents in the workforce. Governing is about choices. The current government chooses to give an annual $250 million tax break to the top two per cent. The official opposition would use such funds to provide affordable and accessible child care that benefits everyone, especially the 20 per cent of British Columbian children who live in poverty.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Source: http://www.saanichnews.com/opinion/398256661.html?mobile=true

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Community Gaming Grants Simplified

Dear Friends,

Along with my colleagues MLAs Rob Fleming and Carole James, I am hosting a free seminar on how to access funding from BC's Community Gaming Grant programme.

The event takes place this Friday, October 21, from 2:30pm-4:30pm at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre (471 Cecelia Road).

The seminar will be given by David Sheach, Executive Director of the BC Association of Charitable Gaming. Also helping to organize this event is CharityWorks, the Capital Region Charitable Gaming Association.

The purpose of this event is to assist the many eligible non-profit groups on the south Island. Gaming grants are available to "non-profit organizations which provide programs or services of direct benefit to the broader community." Grant funds can be used to cover operational costs such as wages, utility costs or facility rentals. They can also be used for other purposes such as to rent or purchase equipment required for delivering the program or service.

This seminar will be of value to anyone active in a non-profit organization who wants to learn more about how to best access Community Gaming Grants. Please feel free to share this announcement with your own contacts.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to admin@charityworks.ca.

Warm Regards,

Lana

Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South

Monday, October 17, 2016

Diesel spill in Bella Bella

For Immediate Release
Oct. 17, 2016

Statement from B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan
Clark government fails to demand and deliver “world-class” oil spill response for B.C. coast
 ​

VICTORIA— New Democrat leader John Horgan issued the following statement on the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart and associated fuel spill:

“The Nathan E. Stewart tugboat disaster proves that our oil-spill response capacity is woefully inadequate. B.C. needs better spill response capacity, whether the federal government tries to push new pipelines through B.C. or not.

"Christy Clark could have demanded better spill response on our coast from Ottawa years ago. She could have run a B.C.-led environmental review on Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, but instead she accepted the flawed Harper government process, refusing to use the leverage she had to protect our coast until she was ordered to do an environmental review by the courts.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Saanich News: Communities struggle to deal with affordable housing crisis

OPINION - MLA Report 
by Lana Popham
Reprinted from the Saanich News, October 12 2016
In the last few months I have spoken to hundreds of people about their ambitions and concerns. One issue that keeps coming up with increasing urgency is the cost of living – the affordability crisis.
MSP premiums, big increases in BC Hydro and ICBC rates, new costs for supplies for children at school – the list goes on and on. Nowhere is this crisis worse than when it comes to finding and keeping a decent place to live.
Constituents reach out to my office almost every day asking me urgently to help them find affordable housing.
So it is no surprise that the just-released 2016 Vital Signs report by the Victoria Foundation cited housing and homelessness as the most important issue to residents in the Capital Region. Cost of living was the top issue last year.
The lack of affordable housing affects people of all ages. Approximately 20 per cent of seniors are renters and many more live on a fixed income. The cost of living and housing is not fixed, however, creating a vise of poverty for too many elderly people. It is a vise that tightens as they age and become more vulnerable. It is also a crisis for young people. Up to 10,000 UVic students need housing with the start of each school year and face a market that has a vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent. That is the lowest rate in the country.
The situation is extremely dire for low-income people of all ages. People working full time at B.C.’s poverty-level minimum wage ($10.85 an hour) would need to spend half of their total income just to pay the rent for an average-priced bachelor apartment, if they were lucky enough to find one. If you are unable to work and trying to make do with social assistance the situation becomes close to impossible. It is as unsurprising as it is unacceptable that we saw a tent city rise this summer in the province’s capital.
It is important to remember three points.
First, this is a long-standing social challenge happening in large part because the provincial government has failed to advance solutions despite holding the reins of power for more than 15 years. Until very recently they even denied there was a problem at all.
Second, [BC Liberal government housing] promises are predicated on revenue from taxing the housing bubble. But this revenue is unreliable. This unexpected windfall is also being used to “balance” the budget and cover other promises as we enter the “silly season” of politics. British Columbia estimates it will bring in  $2.2 billion this year from taxes on the sale of property. This housing tax revenue would generate more than the revenue from forestry, mining and energy combined. If -- or more likely when -- this bubble collapses, the government’s house-of-cards budget will come tumbling down with it.
Third, now that we are in the final lap of this government’s term we would be na├»ve to take their recent housing funding promises at face value. Believing they will fulfil their promises to build housing is like believing their promises at this time four years ago that liquefied natural gas was a pot of gold that would provide billions of dollars in tax revenue and make B.C. debt free. (Reality check: B.C.’s debt is higher than ever at $66 billion and their grandiose LNG promises have evaporated into thin air.)
The B.C. Liberal government finally clued in to the extent of the problem this summer. They responded by rushing through slapdash and inadequate legislation in a very short ‘emergency’ summer session. (They then cancelled the traditional fall session when we could have thoughtfully debated this matter.)
The Official Opposition has been demanding action on this issue for years and has put out many thoughtful and well-researched strategies to address it.
For example, in terms of addressing skyrocketing housing prices, we have proposed measures to close the loopholes used by property speculators, advanced the view that those who come to this province to live and work should not be faced with a punitive tax when they buy a home, and proposed increasing that tax on property purchasers who don’t pay income tax in the province.
The Official Opposition also continues to reach out widely to hear the views of experts and B.C. residents as to what should be done. For example, yesterday my MLA colleagues David Eby, Rob Fleming, Carole James and I held a town hall on this subject: we brought housing experts Marika Albert and Jake Fry to Saanich for a public forum to discuss the problem and the solutions with our community.
Affordability including affordable housing is profoundly important to our shared quality of life. I will continue to work on this file and I welcome your feedback.
Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Seniors & Medical Cannabis

MLA Lana Popham invites you to:
Seniors and Medical Cannabis
Does medical cannabis have proven medical benefits for seniors? If so when should it be considered? How should it be used? Is it even legal? Find out the answers to these questions and pose your own. 

When: 3:30pm-5:00pm, Friday October 14th 2016
Where: Douglas Fir Room, Saanich Commonwealth Place, 4636 Elk Lake Dr.

With Guest speaker: Dr. Rob Sealey, MD

Dr. Sealey is one of Canada’s top practicing medical experts on the use of Medical Cannabis. He is also a Physician with a full-service family practice in Victoria.

Dr. Sealey is an active member of Physicians for Medicinal Cannabis, the International Cannabinoid Research Society and the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine. He has been involved in both clinical and research aspects of Medical Cannabis since 2001. Dr. Sealey frequently gives talks across North America to his MD peers and the general public on best practices for the clinical use of Medical Cannabis.

The event is one in a series of free informational sessions and community gatherings organized by the Community Office of MLA Lana Popham. Previous topics include: climate change, traffic safety, wild salmon, public access to the Saanich Observatory, promoting cultural knowledge with the Royal BC Museum, commemorating the Komagata Maru, benefits of buying local, food security, smart urban growth and improving fairness in taxation.