Our Legislative Session is over for the year and it has been, without a doubt, historic.
It was an emotional day when we introduced the Reconciliation Act, which enshrines the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People into BC’s laws. Indigenous dancers cleansed the Legislative Chambers, Indigenous leaders spoke from the floor of the Legislature: everyone was full of hope. And that hope continued when the Legislature unanimously passed the bill. When it came to formalising it, with Royal Assent, the Lieutenant Governor broke with tradition by commenting on legislation, praising all parties for coming together to make reconciliation a reality.
We are already seeing this work in the North Island with the agreements between First Nations, the aquaculture industry and our Government in the Broughton Archipelago: everyone is working together to benefit indigenous people, the environment, salmon and workers.
In other areas, we tightened the laws about vaping and brought in legislation that will result in more transparency when it comes to gas prices. We paved the way for an end to time changes (we will stick with summer time once our neighbours down the Pacific Coast are able to the switch).
And of course, this is the last time that people will be faced with a bill for MSP premiums. As of January, we fall in line with the rest of Canada by not billing individuals for their health care.
As jurisdictions around the globe declare climate emergencies, we’ve strengthened our own reporting on emissions and beefed up what is already North America’s leading climate plan, CleanBC, by passing the Climate Change Accountability Act. We all need to be accountable when it comes to climate change and we must work together to reduce emissions.
As Minister of Transportation I brought forwarded amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act to make new, green, forms of transportation, such as e-scooters, safer. And we’re starting pilot projects around the province to see how they can be integrated into the road networks.
Also, as Minister I followed up on our government’s reduction of ferry fares and the re-introduction of schedules cut by the BC Liberals by hosting a number of visioning sessions to discuss how our marine highway should evolve over the long term. Next year I will be opening the conversation up to everyone, with local town halls and on-line engagement.
I also made sure that the public interest is enshrined in the legislation that governs BC Ferries. Likewise, our government has put the public interest back into forestry legislation, a concept ignored by the BC Liberals.
As we head towards Christmas, I, like everyone, hope for a resolution to the strike at Western Forest Products. The impact on all our communities is enormous. Now that the Legislative session is over, I will be meeting with striking workers, with contractors who can’t get to work and with community leaders. Our government believes in free collective bargaining. Strikes are one aspect of that even though work stoppages negatively impact families and businesses across the North Island.
I will be spending more time in the constituency now the session is over and look forward to seeing people at my Community Office open house from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 13. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
North Island MLA Claire Trevena