Excerpts from the maiden speech of Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar during debate on the Speech from the Throne, Monday, June 26, 2017.
P. Milobar: It is an honour to rise today in accordance with parliamentary tradition and second this government’s speech from the throne.
First and foremost, I want to thank my constituents from Kamloops–North Thompson for electing me to be their voice — their representative — in this place. It has been a pleasure to serve you as a city councillor for two terms, a mayor for three terms and now to represent you here. I will ensure that your voice and concerns are heard here.
I also want to thank my family for their continued support….
I also want to acknowledge my predecessor, Terry Lake, who previously served as the representative for Kamloops–North Thompson. Thank you, Terry, for your years of service.
It’s a privilege to represent Kamloops–North Thompson, a region of our beautiful province with a rich history and a bright future. As I sought the support of my constituents, here’s what I heard. Their top priorities for the region were job creation and growth of the local economy.
The people of Kamloops are rightly proud of their community, and they want a government that supports small business and tourism, a government that invests in world-class seniors’ care and infrastructure. They want a stable government that they can count on. I share these priorities. They’re a big part of why I made the decision to seek election to this place.
British Columbia, especially my constituency, just can’t take four years of policies that would hurt businesses, hurt the economy and ultimately hurt our families and our future. This government and this Premier have made commitments that will help my constituency prosper. This government has committed to funding a four-year engineering program at Thompson Rivers University. Currently, Thompson Rivers University only offers training for the first two years, meaning that students need to move elsewhere. No doubt about it, Kamloops is growing, and these investments ensure that talented workers don’t need to leave our community to get ahead in life.
This government also announced the new patient care tower for Royal Inland Hospital, an asset to the entire Thompson-Nicola region. This new tower will provide rooms for treating mental health and substance use, labour and delivery rooms, new obstetrics beds and doubling the available space in the emergency department. The construction will also create nearly 2,500 jobs in our community.
As I join this caucus, I join with colleagues who represent all regions of our beautiful province. It is important that our province be served by a government that is able to recognize the needs and responsibilities of both urban and rural British Columbia. I note that many of my colleagues received feedback from British Columbians in our province’s more urban areas about things they want done differently.
There is only one caucus — only one caucus — that can respond to these needs, that is capable of taking on the task of balancing the needs of both urban and rural British Columbia. The NDP campaign, which brought forth the members across the way, focused almost exclusively on the Lower Mainland to the exclusion of so much of our beautiful province. Our caucus recognizes that the long-term well-being of urban and rural British Columbians are linked. While there are countless differences, the reality is there is a unique bond between rural communities and our province’s land and its resources….
Rural British Columbia matters. While much of the province lives in urban areas, those British Columbians who live in smaller communities matter, as recognized in this throne speech. I support this throne speech because it recognizes the unique and remarkable connection that so many of our rural communities have to our beautiful province’s land and resources.
There are those who believe that urban and rural communities are different, those who think that politics somehow inherently pits the urban and rural interests against each other. Friends, this is wrong. The profound connection between rural and urban British Columbians is a part of our province’s success. In the wake of this last election campaign, this throne speech calls for bridging the divide between rural and urban British Columbia. This is a vision I support. This is a vision of a government that understands the needs of rural B.C. and urban B.C. and knows how to responsibly answer both.
This government has committed to pre-purchasing wood for the construction of public housing — a solid vote of confidence and a show of support for the thousands of British Columbians who work in the forestry sector and depend on it for their livelihoods, who depend on it to support their loved ones. B.C. forest products are used around the world — a source of pride and joy for our province’s forestry workers.
This government also remains committed to standing up for the industry by actively fighting protectionist efforts south of the border. This is a government and caucus not compromised by divided loyalties and thus is ready to fight for our forestry workers. I’m proud to work with a Premier and caucus that will fight for British Columbia.
I am pleased that the government’s throne speech speaks to continued commitments to our health care system. Under this government’s watch, new and expanded hospitals have been built in every region of our province. This throne speech commits to continuing to move our health care system towards preventative care, commits to ensuring that our province remains the healthiest in our country.
Training more general practitioners at a rate of 112 per year, increasing the scope of practice for nurses and pharmacists, establishing a wait-time guarantee, accelerating access to knee and hip procedures — these are just some of the commitments in the throne speech that will serve not only my constituents but all of British Columbia as well.
Now, earlier I mentioned that investing in and ensuring that we have world-class seniors care is a priority for me and my constituents. That is why I am pleased that this throne speech makes that commitment, ensuring that the government increase the number of residential care beds, ensuring clear and measurable daily care hours are in place and are enforced consistently throughout our province.
Now, there is a contrast that exists between what this government is putting forward and the shaky, unstable alliance advocated by the NDP members across the way. The throne speech put forward by the government today is built on stability. It is built on what we heard from British Columbians across our amazing province. It is built on ensuring that British Columbia remains Canada’s strongest economy. It is built on ensuring that British Columbia continues to be Canada’s leader in economic growth and job creation. It is built on ensuring that British Columbia continues to be a place of hope and opportunity. It is built upon listening to British Columbians.
There are members in the opposition NDP benches here who, I’m sure, are all too eager to pounce on what they deem to be policy reversals. To my new friends across the way, let me assure you there is nothing amiss about a government that listens to British Columbians and is willing to change course so that the needs and wishes of British Columbians are taken into account. Theirs is a reckless alliance predicated on uncertain numbers and vacuous, uncosted promises — promises that will cost British Columbians their jobs.
Friends, the throne speech put forward by this government proves that it is possible to grow the economy and support job creation, all while we make investments needed to support British Columbians in need. The throne speech we have heard here recognizes that when British Columbia’s economy is successful, our province can make the necessary investments needed to take care of our loved ones and to take care of those in need. That’s why I’m pleased that this government is expanding the single-parent employment initiative and increasing rates for those on assistance.
This government is investing in education and students. That’s why I’m pleased that the throne speech is committed to creating a royal commission on education, one that puts the needs of our students first and lays the foundation for continued success into the future….
I’m pleased we are moving forward with the elimination of the MSP. This government has committed to immediately cutting those MSP premiums by 50 percent for households making up to $120,000, and I am pleased that this throne speech has committed to a review to see how full elimination can be achieved as quickly as possible.
Friends, this throne speech is one that bridges the divide between rural and urban British Columbia. It represents a government that listens to British Columbians and acts on their feedback. This throne speech represents an investment in the future of British Columbia. This is a throne speech determined to build a bright future for B.C. On behalf of my constituents of Kamloops–North Thompson, I am proud to support it.
Source: B.C. Hansard, Draft Transcript.