As the analogy goes, the last few months have certainly felt like drinking from a firehose—or four. My role, as your MLA, involves wearing four rather distinct hats. I thought I would take a moment to explain a little about those four different fire-hoses.
First, I serve as the representative for the people of our riding, from Paulson in the east to Eastgate in the west, and encompassing the communities throughout the Similkameen Valley, the southern Okanagan (south of Kaleden), and the Boundary Country. This role involves both helping people navigate government services, policy, and programs, as well as advocating for important issues raised by residents in parliamentary debate. This is where the bulk of my time has been spent, particularly working through the deluge of requests for assistance that our office has received. Given the huge demand for help, and that it’s taken some time to get my office staffed, we have been reactionary rather than taking the proactive approach that we plan to see in the long run. I look forward to being able to make more progress through these requests, which are diverse, including examples such as personal challenges with the Ministry of Transportation, fighting to preserve local organizational capacity in mental health and addictions supports, or advocating for senior’s housing solutions that work.
My second hat is that of parliamentary oversight. On the behalf of BC, I sit in the legislative assembly to help guide the development of bills through consideration, debate, and voting. This month I made my first trip to Victoria (we’re on a cohort model whereby there are many empty seats in the legislature and empty offices in order to manage transmission risk), which was enormously informative and inspiring. We’ve been working through bills that I’m sure you’ve heard some elements of, such as the Firearm Violence Prevention Act, Insurance Corporation Amendment Act, Home Owner Grant Amendment Act, and the Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act just to name a few!
Third, I serve as a member of the NDP caucus, and associated smaller caucuses. This role allows me to take the input that I hear from our office (emails, letters, and calls), as well as the things that I’m passionate about, and work to help motivate the elected leaders of our government to creates policy and programs that align with what is most important for our riding. This is where we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the key issues that you hear and see coming forward to BC, again with an eye toward ensuring that they help the greatest number of people possible.
Finally, I also have the honour to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. While this role is explicitly focused at meeting mandates such as providing high speed internet access across the province and supporting communities especially impacted by any downturns in the forest sector, this role expands beyond that, to touch on all aspects of rural life. This includes divers topics such as agricultural supports, small business revitalisation, and rural health care that works for rural British Columbians. I’m thrilled to have this role, and look forward to what it will bring to BC: most of my time thus far has been spent working on the connectivity file and strategizing about what issues are top-of-mind for rural BC.
All this has been taking place while I’ve been arranging a new office, establishing staff to help serve you well, developing COVID safety plans, and designing communications strategies. The light at the end of the tunnel with COVID is starting to brighten, and I look forward to being able to travel into our communities to have more genuine conversations as soon as that’s a possibility! Until then, stay safe, and stay well.