ÍY SȻÁĆEL (Good Day),
Welcome to my weekly update for June 5th, 2022!
This will be the last weekly update of the Spring legislative session. I will produce a monthly newsletter until the Legislature resumes sitting in October.
There is a lot of content in this newsletter. Please scroll to bottom as I am sharing important information about community dialogues I am hosting and transportation investments on the Saanich Peninsula.
A common criticism I have with the government is poor House management. Up until this Spring session, the government was using time allocation and closure to shut down debate of Bills because we were running out of time before the government’s self-imposed adjournment date. I am happy to say this Spring we finished the work on Bills without the need for government to shut down debate, and we spent this last week of session completing Budget Estimates with the Ministers.
I would love more time with the Ministers for Budget Estimates as it is an excellent opportunity to seek more detail on programs and services. I use the time to gain a deeper understanding of the Ministers’ philosophical approach to their work.
The last three weeks of the Spring session have been as fiery as I have seen since my election in May 2017. The government is facing multiple crises in healthcare – increasing illicit drug poisonings and of course COVID-19, close to a million British Columbians without primary care, and increasingly hospitals across the province are forced to shutter emergency and testing services due to a shortage of nurses.
They are challenged by inflationary pressures increasing the cost of food, fuel and housing for all British Columbians, and that is on top of a cost of living that was already higher than many places in North America.
While the wildfire forecast is more positive this year, experts are calling for a cooler, wetter June, at the same time communities across the province are bracing for more extreme Spring floods due to the rain and a higher than normal snowpack. It is an important reminder that as the weather events we are facing are more extreme, and also more frequent, please clear wildfire fuel and keep culverts and ditches around your property clear of debris.
The government also made a huge mistake when they announced the rebuilding of the Royal BC Museum. Not only was their delivery of the news a public relations disaster, but they also misread the public sentiment for an investment in this new facility considering all the issues (and many more) that I highlighted above.
Now that the legislature has adjourned for the summer, my attention is now less divided, and I turn my focus to constituency work. There are two halves to being an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). I try my best to keep up with both the constituency and legislative work, but it is more difficult when we are in session. While I have the benefit of representing a riding in the Capital Region, and as a result I can ride my bicycle to work, with only two Members in the BC Green Caucus, each day is packed from start to finish.
This summer I will be visiting all the communities in Saanich North and the Islands. In the coming weeks we are hosting Public Circle Dialogues across the riding. I invite you to join me if you can, to talk about the community and the province. If you cannot attend and would like to connect with me, please do not hesitate to contact us. Also, on June 21st we are hosting an open house in our Community Office. Scroll to the bottom for more information on all our community events.
I look forward to seeing you around the Riding. COVID-19 has made connecting with constituents and the constituency extremely difficult and I look forward to attending more events and hosting community meetings again in the Fall.
If you find this newsletter informative, please share it with your friends and neighbours and invite them to sign up to receive my updates. If you need advocacy from our office, have any questions or concerns, please provide your feedback at Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 250-655-5600.
Tuesday, May 31st, 2022
The BC NDP have long claimed to be the only party that speaks for workers. Increasingly we are seeing they cannot back up their claims.
They have failed to protect educators and healthcare workers from COVID-19 and as the climate crisis is causing more and larger wildfires, British Columbians who work outdoors will need their government to put in place policies that protect their health.
Jurisdictions such as Oregon have taken proactive measures. For example, requiring N95 masks, medical checks, paid breaks, and a heat illness prevention plan.
From the responses to my questions offered by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Hon. Mike Farnworth, workers in British Columbia should be concerned. It is clear the BC NDP have not thought at all about this issue.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2022
The Gwa’sala-‘nakwaxda’xw Nation are in the process of taking back jurisdiction of child welfare as per federal legislation.
They have been attempting to get access to historical information from the provincial Crown governments Ministry of Children and Family Development but have been consistently blocked by the BC NDP government.
The Nation has been notified that the Deputy-Director of Child Welfare decided that the information requested was not going to be disclosed.
Despite the commitments of MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean and her Deputy Minister Alison Bond, the provincial government lawyers in the Attorney General David Eby’s Ministry are using narrow interpretations of the law to withhold vital information that the Nation needs to facilitate the development of their programs, and to ensure they are able to meet their cultural laws.
The Premier states his government has made transformational change with regards to reconciliation, and yet these terrible situations persist. He says he’s willing to sit with me to discuss this issue further, but he need not meet with me, he needs to meet with the leadership of the Gwa’sala-‘nakwaxda’xw Nation.
He should not delay.
I am grateful to Gud Takin Jaad, Rose Williams for preparing this statement about the official name change of Queen Charlotte City back to Daajing Giids.
On Wednesday June 1st, I tabled legislation to ban the use of prolonged solitary confinement in provincial correctional facilities for both adults and youth.
Solitary confinement is defined by the United Nations (UN) as any confinement, seclusion, or segregation of individuals for more than 22 hours a day without meaningful human contact. Solitary confinement of more than 15 days is considered torture by the UN Nelson Mandela Rules. Despite these findings, on any given day in our provincial correctional facilities, 33 people are held in violation of these human rights principles.
Solitary confinement is a dehumanizing and insidious form of psychological harm. We know that solitary confinement does not help rehabilitate the adults and youth in the corrections system, and in fact harms them. Solitary confinement has disproportionate effects on Indigenous people. Despite all of this, prolonged solitary confinement is used far too often in British Columbia. This bill enshrines rights to fair treatment for the human beings in our corrections facilities, and accountability for the public to know what’s going on behind the scenes.
This bill aligns with the 2022 resolution from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) to ban solitary confinement, a 2021 report from the B.C. Ombudsperson about youth detention in the province, and the 2019 decision from the BC Court of Appeal that found prolonged solitary confinement to be inhumane and unconstitutional.
The Correction Statutes Amendment Act makes the following improvements to provincial standards for solitary confinement:
• Restricting the use of solitary confinement to 72 hours, and prohibiting the use of solitary confinement for more than 6 days a year for an individual;
• Prohibiting a person from being held in solitary confinement if they are pregnant or recently post-partum, are endangering themselves, have a prescribed disability, or require medical observation;
• Giving people the opportunity for at least 4 hours per day outside of their cell, including a 1 hour window for exercise in the open air;
• Specifying that cells must provide darkness at night and natural light during the day, and a window that allows for meaningful human interaction; and,
• Requiring the provincial director of correctional centres to publish annual disaggregated statistics on the number of individuals held in solitary confinement.
IN THE NEWS
The below news stories contain quotes or references from my work on issues this past week.
● The Indo-Canadian Voice – BC Greens table legislation to change limits to solitary confinement in BC
Contact my Community Office. We are here to advocate on behalf of residents of Saanich North and the Islands.
If you need advocacy or you have a question, concern, suggestion or idea, please do not hesitate to contact me at Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca or 250-655-5600.
Prior to COVID-19 we hosted community conversations in our Community Office in Sidney, BC. This summer I invite you to join me to discuss our communities and province.
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
11:00am – 1:00pm
Saturna Lodge – 130 Payne Road
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
11:00am – 1:00pm
SALT SPRING ISLAND
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
11:00am – 1:00pm
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
11:00am – 1:00pm
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
11:00am – 1:00pm
Province announces $57.6 million investment in Keating flyover and intersection improvements
The total project cost, including a $2.5 million contribution from Central Saanich and $16 million from the federal government, is $76.8 million.
Paired with the $7.6 million improvement to Mt. Newton and the Pat Bay Highway, the $84.4 million investment in these two critical intersections for safety, traffic flow and the facilities to support a bus rapid transit system on the Saanich Peninsula, is very exciting.
I raise my hands to Minister Rob Fleming for making this commitment and I will continue to advocate for multi-modal transportation investments to increase pedestrian, cycling, and transit options in Saanich North and the Islands.
More information to follow!
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure: Keating Flyover News Release
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure: Keating Flyover website
Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure: Mt. Newton Bus Queue Jump News Release