STONE and MILOBAR – Setting political priorities for the new year

MLA Todd Stone during Question Period on Wednesday.

MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson

HAPPY NEW YEAR! As the BC Liberal MLAs for Kamloops and the Thompson Valleys, we hope all our constituents had the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing holiday season with loved ones.

MLA Todd Stone.

MLA Peter Milobar.

We wish you all the best in 2023, and we pledge to continue to work hard on your behalf this year and beyond.

There are a number of key priorities we continue to pursue as your voices in Victoria, and health care is at the very top of the list.

We spent 2021 raising the alarm about staffing shortages, reduced access to services, long wait times for care and poor morale at Royal Inland Hospital — as well as the fact that two in five Kamloopsians don’t have a family doctor. That’s 40,000 people.

While we welcome moves to fast-track the licensing of foreign-trained doctors and improve the family doctor payment model — ideas we proposed many months in advance of the NDP’s announcements — we will be monitoring the progress of these measures to ensure outcomes for patients start to improve.

And these moves must only be the beginning, as they won’t make much difference on their own. Every part of B.C.’s healthcare system has been in crisis after more than five years of the NDP, and patients, their families and our overwhelmed healthcare workers deserve much better.

It’s also vital that the best possible services, close to home, are available for Kamloops cancer patients. We continue to press the NDP to make good on their promise to build a new cancer centre in Kamloops, and quickly — after all, in 2020 they promised the centre would be built in four years.

Here we are, three years after former premier John Horgan made that commitment, and the NDP can’t even tell us whether planning is underway, whether Treasury Board is looking at the costs, or what — if anything — has been done to move the project forward.

All they continue to say is that it’s part of their 10-year plan, but that’s not very reassuring for those cancer patients facing the added stress of travelling to Kelowna for appointments and treatments.

In addition to health care, education is another big priority as the Kamloops-Thompson School District highlights major over-capacity issues in local schools and the need to build five new schools in Batchelor Heights, Pineview Valley, Juniper Ridge, Aberdeen and Sun Peaks.

These five initiatives are among the 44 major and minor projects in the district’s latest capital plan which also includes replacement schools, enhancement projects, environmentally friendly initiatives and requests for new playground equipment and school buses.

We will continue to press the ministry to fulfil these requests in as timely a manner as possible.

Public safety continues to be another key concern for our community, particularly along Victoria Street and the Tranquille corridor. Our city, like many others across B.C., wants solutions to cope with increasing social disorder, random attacks, open drug use and ongoing security concerns for business owners.

Unhoused individuals in Kamloops deserve a roof over their heads, as well as complex care supports which the NDP has been slow to put into place. Everyone wants to — and should — feel safe in our community, but they often don’t, even in broad daylight.

We continue to raise the plight of those impacted by the devastating wildfires of 2021. It’s unconscionable to hear that many people who lost their homes in Monte Lake and the Paxton Valley are spending another unbearable winter living in cold trailers or toting water up from a neighbour’s house every time they need to flush a toilet.

While outside agencies like Mennonite Disaster Service Canada have stepped up to build homes, residents clearly need more support from government and the slow progress is simply appalling.

On a more positive note, we’re pleased the NDP finally moved forward on a Foundry centre for youth seeking mental health and addictions care, as this is something we have long called for.

It’s supposed to be operational in 2024 and we will work to hold government to that timeline. As well, after raising it numerous times, we were also relieved to finally hear news of an expansion of the Car 40 program, albeit under a new name.

This initiative pairs a mental health practitioner with an RCMP officer to respond to calls involving mental health situations.

We have worked hard to achieve real results on issues that matter. In addition to serving as your local MLAs, we both have senior roles as members of the Official Opposition — MLA Stone as House Leader and Shadow Minister for Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, and MLA Milobar as Shadow Minister for Finance.

This affords us many opportunities to ask questions in the legislature, hold government’s feet to the fire, and work to ensure democracy functions as it should.

In MLA Stone’s capacity as House Leader, he also led the charge to freeze MLA salaries for 2023, meaning MLAs won’t get the NDP’s planned wage increase of $10,000 per member this year.

And in MLA Milobar’s role as Shadow Minister for Finance, he brought forward a private member’s bill to reduce fuel taxes and another to provide a PST exemption for all used car sales under $20,000. Unfortunately, the NDP refused to call his bills for debate and provide this relief to British Columbians.

We will also continue to work hard to ensure our local economy is thriving; that good jobs continue to be created here in Kamloops and that small business owners feel that their concerns are being addressed.

We will press for more relief as people cope with the current cost of living crisis and urge the government to move much more quickly to meet its housing targets and get going on that twice-promised-but-never-delivered renters’ rebate.

We want to thank you for placing your trust in us, as the MLAs for Kamloops-South Thompson and Kamloops-North Thompson, to advocate for the projects and initiatives that matter to our community.

We wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2023.

Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition House Leader as well as the Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, Trade and Innovation. 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.

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2 Comments on STONE and MILOBAR – Setting political priorities for the new year

  1. Blah blah blah blah blah, same old same old from the two of you. Sorry, I place no trust in you.

  2. Dont get me started gentlemen … just dont.

    It just astonishes me how many of the issues you 2 bring up here, that were either specifically created by previous Liberal (or whatever bland generalised name your party has now) government policy, or were not dealt with at all by previous Liberal government policy, either way creating the massive issues we have today.

    But dang … they sure are good at keeping a list to include in a report like this.

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