ÍY SȻÁĆEL (Good Day),
Welcome to my weekly update for November 6, 2022!
Another busy week in the BC Legislative Assembly is complete and now we begin two weeks in the constituency before returning for one final week of the Fall sitting.
As the Assembly does not sit on weeks with statutory holidays, we were scheduled to be closed for next week so Members can be in their constituencies for Remembrance Day.
I will be laying a wreath next Friday at the ceremony at the Sidney Cenotaph. Thank you to all the volunteers who will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Province of British Columbia at the other ceremonies around Saanich North and the Islands.
The Constituency Office will be closed on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Prior to adjourning last Thursday, Government House Leader, Hon. Mike Farnworth moved a Motion Without Notice to amend the Parliamentary Calendar to scrub four days (November 14-17, 2022) from the session.
I offer a few details below and invite you to view the debate where the House Leaders provide their commentary to this change. (Chamber video link is available on the top left of the page. Debate starts at 3:55pm)
I’m concerned with how the BC NDP have been managing the Legislative Assembly. By removing four days from the calendar, they are cutting short the opportunities for debate on substantial legislation that is currently on the table. They are likely to have to use time allocation and closure, meaning clauses in bills will made law with no scrutiny.
In addition, Opposition loses four days in Question Period to ask government questions. This is an unnecessary move excused by government because they need to accommodate a transition from Premier John Horgan to Premier-designate David Eby, a transition that should have already happened.
Our democracy only functions well when government and opposition Members respect the roles in our institution. It is an erosion of democracy when a majority government restricts the ability of the opposition to do their job. That is exactly what happened on Thursday and is another example of the government offending our democratic protocols that have evolved over time for good reason.
This week in Question Period I asked Hon. George Heyman (Minister of Environment) if we would require the Bamberton Quarry to undergo a full environmental assessment (EA) and close an absurd loophole that could see the regular expansion of this operation without ever having an EA. I also asked Hon. Sheila Malcolmson (Minister of Mental Health and Addictions) if she would respond to the recommendations of two all-Party Committees and outside experts, and finally undertake a full review of the Mental Health Act.
In my two-minute Statement, I focus on my relationship with the Saanich Inlet and the important role it has played in my life as a provider. While this was a personal statement it is reflective of the relationship that thousands of people who live around the Saanich Inlet have with the environmentally and culturally sensitive place. Sonia and I have heard from hundreds of residents who have shared those feelings in the past few weeks. Thank you for your advocacy.
To everyone who wrote to the Minister regarding the Bamberton Quarry and Foreshore applications. I know the provincial government has received a large number of letters from concerned citizens.
As I noted last week, I met with the Ministry of Mines and learned that the decision-making process for the expansion of the mine is completely separate from the environmental assessment (EA) undertaken by the Environment Ministry. Many residents demanded the province not approve the request until the project underwent a complete EA.
Initially, the Ministry of Environment determined an EA is not required. We were finally able to get a briefing from the Ministry and the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and we learned that a request for an EA has been made and that the EAO is evaluating the request and will seek public feedback.
The deadline for public input to the Ministry of Mines is November 14, 2022. Learn more here.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission has released their final report. You can learn more about the proposed changes to Saanich North and the Islands below.
The deadline for public input is November 22, 2022. Learn more here.
The Active Vessel Management Program has opened a public consultation about the ongoing management of large ships in the Salish Sea.
The Southern Gulf Islands has become a parking lot for vessels awaiting their cargo in Port Vancouver. It has long been an issue for residents living on the Islands. There will be a public open house on Pender Island on November 15, 2022, and an online session on November 22, 2022. Please participate and have your voice heard!
The deadline for public input is November 30, 2022. Learn more below or here.
Finally, the Saanich North and the Islands Community Office hours have changed. We are now available five days a week and we have extended our hours for meetings with Constituency Advocates to 6:00pm on Mondays and Tuesdays to accommodate those who may not be able to meet during business hours.
Our new hours of operation are listed at the bottom of this newsletter.
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.
Adam Olsen, MLA
Saanich North and the Islands
BAMBERTON QUARRY EXPANSION
Review and comment on application to the Ministry of Mines to expand an existing quarry at the Bamberton site in the Saanich Inlet.
Public consultation open until November 14, 2022.
ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES COMMISSION
Review and comment on changes to the Saanich North and the Islands Electoral Area.
Public consultation open until 11:59pm on November 22, 2022.
ACTIVE VESSEL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Review and comment on Active Vessel Management Program that is the responsibility of Transport Canada.
Public consultation open until November 30, 2022.
November 2, 2022
The Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a broken system of mental health services.
At the centre of that is an outdated Mental Health Act. Several organizations such the Representative for Children and Families, the Ombudsperson, and several other community organizations, have called for the BC NDP to undertake a full review of the Act.
Instead, the provincial government continues to invest in an outdated, incoherent system.
I have asked the Minister about this before, I ask her again. Unfortunately, we get the same response. Instead of making sure we are investing in a system informed by a modern law, the Minister continues to invest in the outdated system.
November 1, 2022
My colleague Sonia Furstenau and I have received hundreds of emails from concerned citizens living around the Saanich Inlet about the proposed expansion of the Bamberton quarry. (Learn more at https://adamolsen.ca/2022/10/public-comment-open-for-bamberton-quarry-expansion-application)
The fact that a proposal to extract 479,000 tonnes of construction aggregate each year does not require an environmental assessment is absurd. But that is exactly the case.
What is even more absurd is the loophole that as long as the operators only plan to expand the current operation by less than 50% they can continue to expand the quarry without ever having to have an environmental assessment. Under the current regulation, there will never be an accounting of the cultural and environmental loss from the grinding down of an entire mountainside.
When I asked the Minister of Environment, Hon. George Heyman, he seemed undisturbed by this fact, defensive of it in fact. Clearly, the residents and representatives need to keep the pressure on the Ministry of Environment.
November 3, 2022
The Saanich Inlet is a special place. It has fed countless generations of my family it must be protected. I rose and spoke to the importance of this place to my family and to the thousands of people who live around the inlet.
November 4, 2022
Motions Without Notice: SCHEDULE FOR HOUSE ADJOURNMENT
The BC NDP government ended the week by moving a Motion that would cancel four days from the Fall sitting. They have removed November 14-17, 2022. They used their majority to push the change through.
According to the Government House Leader, Hon. Mike Farnworth, this is a result of Premier-designate David Eby not being sworn in until November 18, 2022.
Minister Farnworth argued the incoming Premier needed more time and there are potentially changes to the Executive and public service coming as a result of the transition from Premier John Horgan.
Both the BC Liberal Caucus and the BC Green Caucus wanted to debate this Motion. The removal of four days of this sitting is unnecessary, and yet another demonstration of the BC NDP willingness to sidestep the appropriate democratic processes of the Legislative Assembly.
I have not yet had the opportunity to publish the video of my comments, however, you can view the entire debate on the Hansard website in the link in the Transcript below. Click on the Chamber Video link in the top left corner of the page.
Debate begins at 3:55pm with Minister Farnworth, followed by Official Opposition House Leader Todd Stone and then my comments as the House Leader of the Third Party.
● Transcript – (3:55pm)
November 1, 2022
Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2022
Bill 41 makes seven key changes to the Workers Compensation Act to better support workers (detailed below). Five of these changes fulfil recommendations from the Patterson report; all of the recommendations work to bring BC in line with other Canadian jurisdictions.
- This legislation establishes a more independent Fair Practices Commissioner (FPC) with the authority to investigate complaints by workers and employers of alleged unfairness in dealings with WorkSafeBC.
- A Fair Practices Office already exists within WorkSafeBC, but it’s a black box.
- This office will be more independent, will make recommendations to WorkSafeBC and deliver an annual report.
- Establishes a clear employer duty to re-employ injured workers and to accommodate returning workers short of undue hardship.
- Expands access to Independent Health Professionals by allowing them to be requested as a part of an appeal to the external Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
- Requires interest to be paid on compensation benefits owed for 180 or more days.
- Includes explicit provisions against claim suppression.
- Restores indexing of workers’ compensation benefits to the Consumer Price Index.
- This comes into effect on Jan. 1, and though it will not apply retroactively, it will make a big difference for folks on disability.
- Increases the maximum compensation for non-traumatic hearing loss.
- WorkSafeBC identified this issue as necessary to address; the change provides more flexibility for future changes to the non-traumatic hearing loss compensation scheme.
● Transcript – (2:00pm)
● YouTube (Hansard video) – not uploaded yet.
BILLS THIS WEEK
Bill 42 –
Provincial Sales Tax Amendment Act, 2022
This legislation introduces a new Major Events Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) of up to 2.5% on short-term accommodation sales to help municipalities cover the cost of hosting major international tourism events. Communities will need support and approval from the Minister and can apply for the time-limited funding through Destination BC. If approved, communities and the Minister will make an agreement specific to the event they are funding, and this agreement will be publicly available. This legislation follows the precedence of the 4% Resort Area Tax applied in Whistler to help cover the costs of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
2022 Budget Estimates are complete.
IN THE NEWS
CBC Political Panel
Listen in every Monday morning, 7:30 I’m on the CBC Political Panel on The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn | Live Radio | CBC Listen
Oct. 31, 2022: Paying for care – we spoke with MLA Adam Olsen about his concerns around clinic membership fees – MLA Olsen, CBC on the Island
Nov. 1, 2022: Coastal GasLink Halts Work on Pipeline Section – MLA Furstenau, MLA Olsen, The Tyee
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.
Find us at:
9828 Fourth St.
Closed on Remembrance Day: November 11, 2022
Our new office hours:
12:00pm – 6:00pm
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm