It has been a busy start to the year, with movement on a few of the major problems here in the North Island.
It seems after much pressure on the Vancouver Island Health Authority we are starting to see some of the needs of the North Island addressed‚ including ensuring adequate staff coverage in the hospitals in Port Hardy and Port McNeill to prevent the ridiculous rotating closures people in those communities have been facing. It also seems‚ again after huge effort‚ that VIHA is willing to reopen a discussion about the unique needs for locally-based, crisis counseling on the North Island.
And having finally made the decision on a location for the new Courtenay hospital (on Ryan Road in Courtenay), VIHA can get on with the urgent work of preparing to build our new hospital in Campbell River. The authority wants to work on both hospitals at the same time so it was essential that a decision was made about the second facility. Now it is developing its business plan, which it intends to present to the government ahead of next year’s budget cycle. But with VIHA it is never a done deal; we still have to be vigilant that all the services currently provided, as well as certain new services, are available at our new hospital. And I will still be lobbying that the hospital should be built with public dollars; at the moment there is still talk that it be financed through a public-private partnership. This model of financing has been shown time and again to be a costly way of building public facilities. Using public funds for infrastructure projects, such as building a hospital, will ensure the facility is built in the most cost-effective way possible.
As it is winter we have had a number of questions about the size of gravel used on our roads, particularly Highway 19. I have talked with the Minister of Transportation’s office on this: the aggregate used is the same size used province-wide and is a national standard. Apparently if it is any smaller there is a problem with traction and any larger, there is the potential of it being kicked up and causing more damage than we already see.
We are back in the legislature for a week in the middle of February. It will inevitably be a lame duck session as it will be ahead of the leadership vote which will elect the new premier. However the government is determined to have a Throne Speech and is required to table a budget. After that one week we are uncertain when we will return to the legislature.
It continues to trouble me that while this government brought in fixed sessions of the legislature it hardly ever follows its own schedule: we have not sat since early last June. This is not healthy for what should be a vibrant democracy and it is little wonder that so many people become cynical.
I can be reached in the constituency: Campbell River call me at 250-287-5100; in Port Hardy I can be reached at 250-902-0325; and toll free at 1-866-387-5100. Email me at Claire.email@example.com or through my web page www.clairetrevena.ca.
Claire Trevena is MLA for North Island.