As we start a new year, there are so many reasons for me, and for my family, to be thankful. Over the year, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with countless dedicated and gifted neighbours who make Vancouver Point Grey a wonderful place to live, work and play. For us 2018 was a year of change, with Cailey starting life as a resident doctor at a local hospital for the next two years, Ezra growing like a weed (and eating like a horse), and me settling into my new role as Attorney General. I hope your year has been as positive, challenging, and fun-filled as our year has been.
At work over the last year, your 17 month old government has been busy making life better for British Columbians. Here in our community, Hummingbird childcare at UBC was chosen as a pilot site for the universal childcare program, and at this and many other programs throughout the community hundreds of families took advantage of new provincial financial supports to help them pay for badly needed childcare. Desperately needed new daycare spaces are also being funded on our peninsula, supported by new provincial funding for hard costs of new daycare sites. Bayview Elementary’s long-awaited seismic upgrade is progressing, helping parents breathe a bit easier knowing that their children will be attending a modern, safe learning environment in the near future. Our schools across the constituency received additional funding for teacher supports and class size, making life a bit better for everyone involved in our education system.
The provincial government has partnered with UBC on hundreds of new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math spaces, as well as additional funding for graduate level studies at our local, world-famous university. Coupled with hundreds of new student housing units made possible by provincial financial support, and the region’s largest investment in transit ever, 2018 was a big year for UBC students and those who hope to attend UBC.
This year, new funding began to flow to the Therapeutics Initiative, a project located at UBC that provides physicians with objective information about new drugs and their efficacy, saving the province millions in unnecessary prescriptions and saving thousands of British Columbians from unwanted side-effects of ineffective medications.
Seniors awaiting hip or knee replacements got some good news, as did anyone waiting for MRI scanning, with additional resources in the form of operating room time and operating hours for scanners, being announced by the Ministry of Health. Those in residential care got welcome news that additional funding for basic care (like meeting minimum standards for baths and patient activities) was delivered this year.
If you’re concerned about human-caused climate change, as all of us should be, you may have seen the Minister of the Environment George Heyman’s announcement of BC’s aggressive carbon pollution reduction plan, which maps out a road for us to hit our 2030 carbon pollution reduction targets through infrastructure improvement, electrification of the vehicle fleet in our province, and capture and use of methane emissions from landfills, among other initiatives.
For government as a whole, 2018 brought the end to union and corporate campaign donations and strict limits on individual donations, strict new lobbyist reporting rules, and a referendum on how we send our MLAs to Victoria. What a change from just 18 months ago, when foreign-national companies and the world’s super wealthy could donate unlimited amounts to BC politicians!
We are closing in on some of the problems in our housing market. Two separate provincial reviews are taking place into money laundering policies and activities taking place in our housing market. Reforms to require declaration of the actual ownership of a home through a “beneficial ownership registry” will be introduced in 2019. A new speculation tax will identify individuals who own property but who don’t pay income taxes here, and require them to pay taxes to contribute to local services. New information sharing agreements with Revenue Canada will help identify tax evaders and money launderers, especially in partnership with speculation tax and beneficial ownership registry data.
On the economic side, BC’s Finance Minister has now delivered three balanced budgets. British Columbia is the fastest growing province in Canada, with record low unemployment rates and heartening news about private sector economic investment across the province, including Fujitsu announcing their decision to choose Vancouver as their global artificial intelligence headquarters, Amazon announcing 3,000 new jobs in our region, and our government with the federal government partnering with Burnaby-based Stemcell Technologies on a $138m advanced manufacturing facility.
Add to this new legislation re-establishing the Human Rights Commission in BC, major reforms to ICBC that kick in on April 1, 2019 to turn that financial ship around, reforms to class actions that will help fund access to justice initiatives in the province, working with the Federal Government to improve enforcement of anti-money laundering laws in the province, and so much more…2018 was a very, very busy year and 2019 promises more to come.
Thank you very much for all of your support for me, and for my staff, over the last year. Your letters, messages, and, yes, shouts of support in the street, help all of us keep going to make life better for British Columbians.
I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.
MLA, Vancouver Point Grey