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.