MLA Oakes responds to Throne Speech 2017

AUTUMN MacDONALD

Observer Reporter

Following Throne Speech 2017, Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes said it was clear they needed to do things differently. “Aside from a balanced budget voters are concerned with more investment in social and environmental issues.”

Among many of the issues addressed during the speech, Oakes pointed to accessibility and “reinvigorating that conversation.” Medical Services Plan (MSP) was also a highlighted point with a commitment to more physicians and additional funding for family doctors and education. The speech committed that “with the confidence of the house, your government will cut MSP premiums by 50 per cent for households making up to $120,000 – saving families as much as $900 per year.”

Housing affordability was also addressed, with commitments to protecting tenant rights, investing in affordable, supportive housing and working with local governments and the private sector to increase supply. Looking to rural communities, Oakes said she was particularly proud of the dedication to food security and agriculture.

The speech highlighted:

• doubling the Grow Local program and make it permanent;

• bringing an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020;

• activating an all-party select standing committee to study how B.C.’s agricultural land can be used and stewarded; and

• ensuring all high-quality farmland lost as a result of the Site C project is replaced with comparable land in other parts of the province.

The speech also highlighted climate change, carbon tax and PST reduction, wildlife management and strengthening environmental protection, enhancing parks, tolls, the arts, law enforcement, mental health and addictions, seniors, and transit.

“The Throne Speech was an exercise in listening,” Oakes said, “on all sides.”