I’ve heard from people across the Peace recently and many of them have been asking about what lies ahead in politics for our region and for our province.
It’s natural to be curious about what’s to come at the start of a new year and a new decade. After all, we all want to be as ready as possible for what’s coming. I get a sense I’ll be working on a lot of the same files that impacted our communities over the past 12 months.
The mountain caribou issue still hasn’t been resolved. Despite government promises that the voices of the public and local governments would be part of developing a recovery plan, that hasn’t happened. Transparency and involvement are what the Peace residents have been requesting for about a year now. They want to be part of the solution. It’s where they make a living. It’s where they play. It’s their backyard. Recovery plans have the potential to have a huge impact on our economy and our way of life, and ignoring the insights of the people who live here remains a poor way to develop a plan that will work. I will keep pushing, like so many of you will, to ensure local voices are heard.
One of the biggest concerns coming out of the caribou recovery plans is potential closures to the resource sector – and especially our forest sector. Right now, forestry is reeling in every part of the province, not just the Peace. There are no signs that things are improving, and in fact, dark clouds remain on the horizon. When the Legislature resumes in February, I will join with my colleagues in continuing to press the government to take real and meaningful action for all the families who depend on our forests for their futures.
Work remains to be done on cross-border health care access issues. Living in the North we know that the closest high-level health care is actually in Alberta. In an emergency minutes can matter, and we’ve seen that delays in transferring patients to Vancouver can cost lives. There is a solution, and it will take B.C. and Alberta working together. I’ll keep working for this because it’s the right thing for patients, and the right thing for taxpayers.
The Peace, like a lot of other parts of the province, is also facing challenges recruiting enough teachers and health care workers. Many of us proud to call the Peace home are from other places. I grew up in North Vancouver, but Dawson Creek is where I call home. I’m here because of the incredible opportunities in our part of the province, because this is a great place to raise a family, and because it’s a great place to live. I will keep advocating through 2020 to help find ways for more people to come and call the Peace home and help support our schools and health care services.
And finally, sadly one thing we can predict about the coming year is there will be emergency situations that will impact our communities and our people. That’s why, as we start 2020, I want to thank all of our emergency responders, our doctors and nurses, and our police officers and firefighters in advance for their dedication. Because of you, your efforts, and your dedication, all of us are safer.
If you have any issues you want me to raise, or any concerns you want to share, you can always reach me through my office at MIKE.BERNIER.MLA@LEG.BC.CA , (250) 782-3430, or 1 (855) 582-3430. I hope your next year, and your next decade, is happy and prosperous.