DAVE BARRETT hasn’t been the premier of British Columbia for over 40 years. But when he passed away in February of this year, his legacy lived on.
In three and a half short years that his BC NDP government was in power, 367 bills were passed. Bills which stand to this day include the creation of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), and the protection of farm land through the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Air ambulances, a constant of hospitals across the province, were established as well. Although I was just a child (or maybe because I was), I remember the day corporal punishment was banned from schools under his reign. I and other kids ran down school hallways shouting in celebration.
John Horgan, one year and a bit into his mandate as premier, is on his way to establishing a legacy of equal stature. Horgan seems able to meet or surpass the bar that Barrett set.
I’m biased, I have to admit. But the measure of a government is not just in the bills it passes, but their benefits and longevity.
The previous government raised highway speeds across the province. A vision that was short sighted and short lived. Speed limits on stretches of highways across the province have now been reduced, in the name of public safety. I doubt anyone will remember 40 years from now, except perhaps someone who lost a loved one to a highway accident.
The current government has brought back the Human Rights Commission, banned the Grizzly Bear hunt, established Urgent Care Centres for medical care, and increased disability rates. They reduced or froze ferry rates on some routes, and removed bridge tolls. There have been a host of post-secondary and training initiatives, and sector specific incentives and panels. Housing for homeless, and the low-income have been provided. In July of this year, over 2/3 of the BC NDP’s election promises were complete one year into their mandate.
All this will have impact.
But 40 years from now, the thing which I think will have the biggest impact is the $10 per day child care.
This week, the B.C. government announced that 53 centres across the province will start the program. One of those centres will be in Kamloops.
Child care is something that every family must decide on. For some, it is easy, because there are two parents, and one income is sufficient. The parent can work and the other can choose to stay at home. Or with two incomes, child care may be costly, but still affordable.
But, for many, the cost of child care is overwhelming.
For families with young children, child care is the single biggest expense after housing.
The people I know best, my family, give simple examples of how often families have a lone parent. Two of my aunts, one a widow and one separated, were single parents who raised large families on their own. Three of my sisters did the same. As did a niece. So did a nephew. And an uncle. All of them cobbled together child care so that they could work. Their incomes were strained by the costs of child care. There was difficulties finding child care. Without another parent to share the care, quality dependable child care was even more important to them.
The $10 a day child care plan will allow parents, especially single parents, and overwhelming single women parents, to increase their earnings. Currently, B.C. has the second highest poverty rate in Canada. One in five children live in poverty. Poverty is even higher for lone-parent families. One in every two children of lone parents live in poverty.
The $10 a day child care plan helps families, and it will especially help lone-parent families.
If Horgan keeps up the pace, he could easily surpass the 367 bills Barrett’s government passed.
Good for him for wanting to make a positive change.
Forty years from now, many of the bills passed by this government will be forgotten. But the one I think will be remembered is the $10 a day child care bill. Forty years from now, the kids affected probably won’t remember this bill as vividly as I remember the abolishment of corporal punishment, but none the less, the impact on their lives will be long lived.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.