By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
THE END OF THE YEAR IS always a time for reflection, and while we saw some positive policy reversals by new NDP Premier David Eby in 2022, we also saw a number of areas where he and his government failed to make any progress.
I was pleased to see Eby cancel the NDP’s controversial plan to claw back individualized funding for children with autism.
Though the stress of these proposed changes caused enough problems for parents and caregivers, these families are now relieved to see the government reverse this poorly thought-out plan. I just wish the NDP had come to their senses sooner.
Speaking of coming to one’s senses, few people understood the government’s rationale for banning Salvation Army fundraising kettles outside BC liquor stores during the busy Christmas rush.
Thankfully, after much outcry from the public and the Official Opposition, the NDP reversed this bizarre decision as well.
Unfortunately, the NDP hasn’t made any headway on the big issues impacting British Columbians every day. Life remains more unaffordable than ever. Grocery and fuel bills are staggering, home buying is out of reach for most young people, and monthly rents have skyrocketed.
There is still no sign of the NDP’s renters’ rebate, which has been promised many times but still not delivered.
Despite a number of announcements, our health care system remains in crisis. Just this past weekend, we saw services either reduced or completely unavailable at the Nicola Valley ER in Merritt, at the South Okanagan General Hospital ER in Oliver and to the Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Ashcroft.
Meanwhile, one in five people in B.C. still don’t have a family doctor — and in Kamloops, the situation is twice as bad with two in five people lacking a family physician. One million people are waiting to see a specialist, and wait times in our ERs and walk-in clinics are often several hours long if not more.
Our ambulance service also needs more support, as some patients are being forced to wait in agony for many hours until help can arrive. The drug toxicity crisis rages on, with far too many people losing their lives each day.
And then there is the issue of violent, often random, attacks on our streets. It was disappointing to see the NDP refuse to take action all year, allowing repeat offenders to continue to terrorize people, until David Eby could assume the Premier’s chair and suddenly make some of the very changes the Opposition suggested many months ago.
What we need to see from this government in the new year is a fresh approach to these pressing issues, and a real resolve to act.
We need more than announcements, studies and surveys — we need better outcomes and positive results that actually make life better for people. After all, that’s what the NDP promised in the previous two elections.
I look forward to continuing to hold the government to account on these commitments and more in 2023 — but for now I look forward to celebrating the holiday season with my family, which grew by two members this year.
Seeing Christmas through the eyes of my two new granddaughters will be particularly heartwarming and special.
I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year!
Peter Milobar was elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017, and re-elected in October 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Finance. He previously served as critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Official Opposition House Leader.