This week, the B.C. legislature wraps up one of the most interesting sessions of parliament I have experienced in my three years as your MLA. So many of my colleagues, as well as parliamentary staff, have worked tirelessly to ensure we could all safely resume this one-of-a-kind hybrid parliamentary session to continue the vital work necessary to put our province on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, with everything I have seen unfold over the past few weeks, I really wish I was leaving this legislature with a little more confidence.
For starters, there is still a $12.5 billion elephant in the room. After months to prepare to save British Columbia’s post-pandemic economy, the NDP haven’t bothered announcing any sort of economic recovery plan to help British Columbians or address our daunting deficit. All British Columbians have gotten so far is a six-week online survey.
We recently passed the three-year anniversary of this NDP government and reflected on a track record that has done very little to give British Columbians confidence for the future. So many election promises had fallen to the wayside well before anyone even heard of COVID-19. Three years into an NDP’s grand plan to build 114,000 new homes, 24,000 new childcare spaces, eliminate school portables, provide $10-a-day child care and fix ICBC, and none of these promises is even close to being fulfilled.
Less than a tenth of the promised houses and childcare spaces are operational today, there are more school portables than ever before, NDP MLAs refuse to even mention the phrase “$10-a-day childcare” like it’s Beetlejuice, and with insurance premiums at an all-time high, the NDP has managed to turn their ICBC dumpster fire into a five-alarm blaze.
As a former teacher and parent, I was infuriated by this government’s rollout of the back-to-school plan. With more risks to our children’s health and well-being than ever before, parents and teachers have been expressing some very real concerns and anxieties about sending our kids back to classrooms for months. While the Education Minister promised a viable plan for teachers and families on July 29, what they unveiled seemed to raise more questions than answers.
While some light was shed on the “cohort” model, parents around British Columbia are left waiting for full details about what the return to class will look like for their children. The province has mandated that each school district’s back-to-school plans must be made publicly available by August 26, only a week before classes are scheduled to resume. Thousands of parents, teachers, and even organizations like the BC Teachers Federation have stated that this plan will create far too many risks for our children, teachers, staff, and families.
I don’t know when or if the next session of parliament will commence but if our province has any hope of a successful recovery, we are going to need to see a lot more from this government than what we have seen over these last six weeks.