Being in opposition isn’t easy, but it is important.
Sometimes we have to drag the government, kicking and screaming, to the right decision for the betterment of British Columbians.
As we wrap up the spring session of the British Columbia Legislature, I wanted to pause and reflect on what was achieved over the past few months.
It's been an intense but rewarding session, filled with debates, dialogues, and occasional breakthroughs that remind us why we're here.
One of my proudest moments was securing funding for the Starbright Children's Development Centre.
This institution, a cornerstone of our community in Kelowna for over 57 years, does remarkable work to support children with developmental challenges and their families.
Things looked dire in December without any funding for the centre yet, with government focusing all funds for the valley on a hub model pilot project.
While government had promised that the other supports would be kept intact, that was not what was happening in the Okanagan valley.
The parents rallied, the administration and board started to express how dire the situation was, and the opposition MLA’s sprung into action.
I had the privilege of bringing the “feelings banner”, which the parents and children created during a public rally, to Victoria.
I delivered it to the premier. It's why I do what I do – to make a real, tangible difference in the lives of my constituents.
Finally the government relented and signed a new contract with Starbright for another two years.
This funding will keep the services they offer, providing much-needed support for these
children and their families.
The work is not complete however, as their contract was only extended by two years.
On the last day of session, Starbright’s leadership came to the Legislative Assembly to meet with government and opposition.
When asked by the media, the minister finally agreed to come for a visit to see firsthand the work that they do.
Hopefully this will result in a more permanent solution for the funding they so desperately need.
Why was it only on the last day of session that the minister finally agreed to come?
The events of the last day of session continued, as during the last question of Question Period, Premier David Eby finally acknowledged the necessity to consider protections for children's parks against decriminalized and open drug use.
Many municipal advocates, including Mayor Dyas from Kelowna, have been asking for this measure of protection for BC’s kids.
The Premier's recognition is a step in the right direction, but rest assured, I will continue to press for tangible policies and actions to ensure the safety of our children and communities.
Kevin Falcon, Leader of the Official Opposition and the BC United, declared that we would come back to the legislature at any time this summer to make pass any required legislation to make this measure a reality.
The passage of the Pay Transparency Bill was another significant milestone this session.
The BC United caucus has introduced this legislation six times and championed transparency as a means to promote gender pay equality and eradicate wage discrimination.
Finally, the NDP brought in the bill during this session. Seventh time’s the charm!
While far from perfect, the passage of this bill reaffirms our commitment to building a more equitable society, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to support it.
As we bid goodbye to the spring session, I'm filled with gratitude and pride in what we've been able to achieve.
From securing critical funding for the Starbright Children's Development Centre, advocating for safer communities, and supporting the Pay Transparency Bill, it's been a session of hard work, persistence, and progress.
When we get back to the fall session, I am committed to continuing this important work, to serve you better and make a positive difference in our community.
The work we've done this session is a testament to what we can achieve together.
Having said that — I am so happy to be home!
I look forward to seeing you around Kelowna, and hearing firsthand what issues you are dealing with the most.
My question for you this week is this:
What is most pressing for you right now?
I love hearing from you and read every email you send!
Email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620.