Friday, April 29, 2022


People across BC are welcoming and always ready to pitch in for those in need. It’s who we are. Over the last two years, we’ve seen the power of people coming together to support each throughout the pandemic, floods, and forest fires.

I know many of you have been watching the events unfolding in Ukraine. Ukrainians who are escaping unimaginable violence are now arriving in BC and we are making sure that they receive the vital medical services and community support they need. 

As people from the Ukraine begin arriving, we understand that access to physicians, prescriptions, and mental health support is critical. Instead of the normal three-month waiting period for new arrivals, we are providing day-of-arrival MSP coverage for Ukrainians entering BC, to ensure that they can have access to immediate care.

Another important aspect of health and safety is community connection. This is why we have expanded the Service BC phone line to include United Way British Columbia’s bc211 service, a multilingual service that connects people to more than 15,500 free social supports, services and community programs throughout the province. British Columbians who would like to help can also access information and opportunities through this service. 

Additionally, we have also expanded access to free employment services and supports available through 102 WorkBC Centres, including skills training, employment counselling and access to our provincial job board. 

To help ease the transition for families and students, we have encouraged school districts to enroll K-12 students from Ukraine and to waive additional fees they might have for extracurricular activities, such as music or soccer camps. These are just some of the ways that we are supporting newly arrived Ukrainians to feel safe, supported, and connected as they navigate this challenging time. 

We are committed to working with our partners, including the federal government, to ensure that those fleeing conflict are welcomed to BC as efficiently as possible. 

Sincerely,




 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

 


We’re working to address the high demand for nurses in BC by making it easier for internationally educated nurses to work BC by consolidating the complicated, costly and lengthy application process. Right now, internationally educated nurses must go through multiple assessments and coordination with numerous organizations to put their skills to use.
 
That’s why we are moving towards a process that will remove financial and logistical barriers for internationally educated nurses wanting to work in B.C.’s healthcare system. We are funding bursaries so more people can afford the process and we are creating new positions who will help applicants navigate the system. And we are also launching a new marketing campaign to attract more internationally educated nurses to B.C. 

The high demand for healthcare workers is being felt across the world – and the pandemic has only intensified the strain. But we know how vital it is to find solutions so that more people can get the care they need, when they need it. By streamlining the pathway to employment, we will increase nurses and other healthcare workers in our province and ensure that British Columbians' healthcare needs are met sooner.

There is always more to do, but I am very proud of these initiatives that will help British Columbians access timely and high-quality care.

Sincerely,


Sunday, April 17, 2022


Happy Easter!

Copy the image above into a word document and print it for a fun colouring activity!

Sincerely,
 



Thursday, April 14, 2022


I wanted to give you an update on old growth logging deferrals in BC. 
 
Our government’s new vision for forestry is one where we better care for our most ancient and rarest forests, First Nations are full partners in forest management, and communities and workers benefit from secure, innovative jobs for generations to come 
 
The Province and First Nations have now agreed to defer nearly 1.7 million hectares of old growth (which includes 1.05 million hectares of at-risk old growth). This is intended to create the time and space we need to develop a new, long-term approach to managing old growth that prioritizes ecosystem health and community resiliency. 
 
To put it in perspective that is equal to: 
  • Over 4,100 Stanley Parks 
  • More old growth than currently protected in the Great Bear Rainforest. 
 
Government previously implemented 11 deferrals in partnership with First Nations totaling nearly 200,000 hectares of old growth forest – including the Fairy Creek watershed. 
 
Over 80% of the 4.0 million hectares of most at-risk old growth in BC is not currently threatened by short-term logging. We know we are on the right track – old growth logging has decreased by 40% compared to five years ago. In 2020, it was only 0.3% of the 11.1 million hectares of old growth in BC. 
 
New capacity funding of up to $12.69 million over three years is available to support First Nations engagement on old growth. Budget 2022 provides an additional $185 million over three years for forestry worker and community support programs. 
 
The Old Growth Strategic Review included short-term, medium-term and long-term recommendations and suggested a 36-month timeline for implementation. We have been prioritizing our work on the 14 recommendations and have made significant progress on many of them already.  We are committed to implementing all of those recommendations and are working towards a new Old Growth Strategy for BC to be complete in 2023. We need to take the time to get this right. 
 
Our forests make B.C. one of the best places to live. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to better care for our old growth forests.  
 

Sincerely,


Friday, April 8, 2022



Investing in transit infrastructure is a big part of building safe, liveable communities while also fighting climate change by encouraging active transit. This week, our government took significant steps to improve how we get around.
 
We brought forward legislation that will increase housing and services near transit hubs. People should be able to access the services they need close to home, and that’s why we introduced changes that will allow the province to acquire land near transit stations and bus exchanges, to build housing and other key community amenities. These changes will help shape growth around station sites, increase housing density and help create complete, connected communities that are close to transit.

We also announced funding to support our public transit systems as ridership levels recover from pandemic impacts. Alongside the federal government, we are providing $204 million to B.C.’s public transit systems, including $28 million for BC Transit. Reliable and affordable public transit is vital for strong communities, and this funding will go a long way towards maintaining these services that people count on.

And we are investing in projects to create more safe options for walking and cycling in rural, remote, and indigenous communities. A total of 37 local governments, Indigenous governments and other groups are receiving funding for projects that will improve road safety in their communities. Projects include crosswalks, traffic calming, walk signals that give a head start to pedestrians, speed reader boards, mixed use paths, and better lighting and signage. These things make it easier for people to chose active ways of getting around, which are healthier for both us and our environment.
 
The steps we took this week to increase housing near transit services, maintain B.C.’s strong transit systems, and improve safety for walkers and cyclists will help us make life better for everyone in B.C. 

Sincerely,



Tuesday, April 5, 2022


As we draw near to the 50th anniversary of the creation of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve in 1973, the arguments around this cutting-edge land use tool don’t become less passionate.  From the get-go, there has been controversy, but the validity of the original intent of this reserve, to preserve food growing lands for future generations and to encourage farming, has been proven repeatedly, but never more definitively then over the past 2 years.
 
Our province has faced grave challenges recently.  A variety of supply chain issues that have been pandemic related, along with climate change weather event disruptions and disasters that have proven deadly to our food supply.  The words “food security”, “food resiliency”, and “self-sufficiency” have never been used more often in regular day to day conversations, and certainly have not had this type of attention politically, at all levels.  
 
We have been frightened by what we have gone through because we have seen weaknesses and fragility in a food system that we have grown to depend on more and more over the years.  We import more food that we produce, and for decades there has been a focus on providing food for trade and less on providing food for ourselves.  This kind of focus can be managed when everything is working smoothly - When export markets don’t see shutdowns, when transportation routes are working seamlessly, and when we have people filling jobs that support this type of system.  
 
But that has not been the case lately. We have seen unprecedented difficulties on all fronts.  
 
Since 2017, there has been a shift in focus of the BC agriculture ministry.  There has been a new focus on expanding and supporting our domestic market.  A conscious effort to build our domestic foundation as it pertains to food production, making sure our house is in order so that we can feed ourselves.  
This is not to say that we are turning away from our international opportunities, but work is being done to solidify our own provincial food resilience so that we remain stable in times of crisis.  
 
Our BC Agricultural Land Reserve gives us a distinct advantage as we forge ahead to create a more a robust and durable way of feeding ourselves, while at the same time creating opportunities to feed other jurisdictions.  
 
Our province is unique in its landscape which allows for different growing regions that can produce different primary goods.  This is one of our strengths.  We produce over 200 land-based products grown on these lands we have put aside for food production. This is on top of traditional foods, like wild mushrooms and salmon berries, that have been harvested for millennia by First Nations whose territories span the entire Province.
 
This separation of production areas, or bioregions, in the Agricultural Land Reserve is another great strength that can be developed, but this separation proved to be alarming over the past two years as we saw them getting cut off from each other, resulting in food not being able to move freely throughout our province.  
 
These pinch points in our current system helped to demonstrate the need to develop resiliency more fully within each distinct growing area.  More primary production, more farming, more regenerative production, more value-added processing, more regional purchasing, more regional procurement. Establishing more vigorous, sustainable, local food systems within our enormous province allows us to withstand times of disruption but also allows for more regional economic development.  
 
Because of what we have gone through these past couple years, more British Columbians have been awakened to the importance of BC food.  They understand more clearly the value of our provincial food producers. 
 
We are the envy of many other jurisdictions who failed to protect their food growing lands years ago.  As we embrace the idea of resiliency and food supply security, we can be thankful that we have food producing lands to fall back on.  The ways in which we produce food have been evolving and adapting, and that is being reflected in the ways that the Agricultural Land Commission balances its responsibilities to manage these lands. 
 
Fifty years ago, leaders had the foresight to make a pledge to the future of food security by establishing an Agricultural Land Reserve.  Much has changed over 50 years, but I think this is the moment they had in mind.  
 
Sincerely,