ÍY SȻÁĆEL (Good Day),
Welcome to my weekly update for week four of the 2023 Spring legislative sitting for February 27 – March 3, 2023.
It was finally budget week in British Columbia.
Like every budget before, the government immediately frames it as the best budget that has ever been written, elevating the items they want in the headlines. The opposition immediately frames it as a budget that missed the mark.
Rob Shaw in his post-budget wrap-up quotes a high-level assessment from my colleague Sonia Furstenau,
“BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau hit the nail on the head in her budget response, saying Eby missed a key moment in his premiership to redefine the province, like legendary New Democrat premier Dave Barrett did in the 1970s when he created ICBC, the Agricultural Land Reserve, the Labour Relations Board, Pharmacare, the air ambulance service and the Human Rights Code.
“I think there was some hope and expectation that premier Eby would be jumping up on that table saying let’s show them what’s possible, let’s demonstrate the value of an NDP majority government, a government that’s really focused on transformative change,” said Furstenau.
“Instead, we got an update on last year’s budget.”
Sonia was quoted elsewhere saying “it is not a legacy budget.”
While it is the job of the opposition to critique the work of the government, the provincial budget is far more complex than what it is made out to be on budget day and it takes a couple of weeks to really dig into the details.
Not to discount the important supports offered in Budget 2023, but this budget appears to be more of the status quo.
The clearest example of this is the $1,000,000,000 dollars Premier Eby has given to local governments. On social media, the Premier and his colleagues are scrambling around local governments this weekend to have their picture taken with grateful local government officials.
They are no doubt grateful for the millions of dollars they did not have last week. However, when contrast the one-time funding with the decade old request from local governments to update the whole fiscal framework — how they collect revenue — to create a legacy of and support for our communities every year going forward, the BC NDP chose the one-time photo-op.
When you consider that just last week I asked the Minister of Economic Development if she was going to re-capitalize the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICE-T). I, and my local government colleagues on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast are urging Hon. Brenda Bailey to provide a permanent fund to support projects this year and for decades to come, that didn’t show up in Budget 2023, instead we are celebrating a one-time grant.
Read More. Question regarding ICE-T
This is exactly the way the provincial government (no matter what party is in power) likes it, because it keeps local government officials loyal and quiet. It sacrifices long-term resilience for the quick hit. It is good politics, but it is terrible governance.
In the House this week, I have not had the chance to deliver my official response to the budget yet, we will see if the government provides more time. I asked two questions in Question Period, the first was about funding for old growth deferrals, and the second was regarding the regulation of the addictions treatment industry. For my two-minute Statement I celebrated the success of the Farmlands Trust Society on the Saanich Peninsula. I spoke to Motion 17, another effort of government to stretch debate until the budget could be delivered, and to Supplementary Budget Estimates in the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Finally, on Friday I made my monthly visit to Salt Spring Island. This visit I brought a special guest, Hon. Mike Farnworth, deputy Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. We met with the local RCMP detachment and fire service and spent two hours at ASK Salt Spring answering questions from the public. Thank you Minister Farnworth for visiting and I hope to schedule other Ministers in the future.
In the upcoming Spring break I will be hosting a series of community meetings in communities across the riding. You can learn more about where the meeting closest to you is being held at https://www.saanichnorthandtheislands.com/events
I look forward to discussing the provincial issues and concerns that are important to you.
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
March 2, 2023
With billions of dollars being invested in addictions treatment and recovery, and the BC Liberals proposing the privatization of the industry, it is clear that at the very least the BC NDP should make sure we are collecting data so we understand the scale and scope of the problem and needed response.
In addition, we need to ensure that there are stringent regulations in place to ensure we protect the most vulnerable people in our society from potential predators, especially if public money is being invested in this industry where business interests are potentially profiting on the drug poisoning crisis.
February 28, 2023
Even though the Environment Minister tried to deflect responsibility, let’s be clear, the lack of species-at-risk and biodiversity protections in British Columbia is not the fault of First Nations. It was a decision by the BC NDP to scrap the process they started more than five years ago.
Even if they want to blame a requirement to consult Indigenous people as the reason the BC NDP were not able to deliver legislated protections for countless species at risk of extinction, they have had ample time to engage and deliver, especially considering Indigenous leaders have been advocating publicly for biodiversity protections all along.
Premier David Eby has made important policy changes that will protect important ecosystems in future land use plans. The problem is that there are hundreds of agreements already signed with First Nations, that will not be impacted by this policy change.
The provincial government needs to provide funds to enable the deferrals the government has targeted, I asked if this was a priority and if Premier Eby will sit down with Hereditary Chiefs who have requested to meet government-to-government and not just the community leaders who agree with them.
March 2, 2023
The Farmlands Trust has shown how a non-profit agricultural operations can deliver healthy local food to support those who need it most in our society.
I shone a light on their incredible effort with my two-minute Statement.
February 28, 2023
Last year, then Interim-Leader of the BC Liberals Shirley Bond, and BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau, called on the BC NDP government to empower the Health Committee to study the drug toxicity and poisoning crisis and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
The effort was entirely about de-politicizing the discussion. We had seen dozens politicized questions lobbed at government in Question Period and get volleyed back. The only thing that was moving was the gap between political parties. It was not helping improve the situation.
Last November the province received the final report with 37 recommendations. They were developed by consensus across party lines. Common ground was found.
And then inexplicably, almost as if the government could not stand the all-Party agreement they tabled this motion which has only had the effect of taking significant steps backward and re-politicizing this sensitive issue.
No bills to speak to this week.
March 1, 2023
In Supplementary Estimates for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, we are debating how Minister Murray Rankin is spending $75,000,000 of extra funding allocated from the Finance Minister.
I don’t dispute that the six agreements Minister Rankin chose to expediate are worthy. Indeed, it is likely the difference of a few weeks or months when these agreements are funded. However, I do believe the Minister has missed an important opportunity to properly fund another priority of Indigenous reconciliation, Section 3 of the Declaration Act.
As I have been working to understand why Premier David Eby’s BC NDP legislative agenda has been so slow to roll out, why we are debating Motions instead of the 25 Bills we were told he would produce this Spring session, I began to hear rumours that it was because consultation with Indigenous leaders was slowing the process down.
Section 3 of the Declaration Act requires the provincial government to align all existing and new laws to the Act. It requires early and thorough engagement and consultation with Indigenous leadership. Last October, the BC NDP produced an interim-approach outlining the process. Then on the CBC I heard Khelsilem, respected Chief-Councillor of Squamish Nation, say the following:
“From an Indigenous rights perspective, it has been a slow challenging pathway to actually implement the UNDRIP Act, since there isn’t enough resources for capacity funding for Indigenous people to participate in the legislative process. BC’s framework needs to be reviewed or amended, the process is lacking since so many Indigenous peoples can’t give meaningful input with so much legislation and consultative drafts all at once.”
Is the picture is becoming a little clearer?
For those of us who have been around Indigenous governance for any amount of time we know that federal-provincial-municipal governments bury Indigenous leaders with referrals. These governments know that the funding programs for Indian Reserves do not cover the necessary and appropriate technical work and legal response to these referrals.
Indigenous communities are the only communities expected to do this work for free. It is ridiculous.
This is not about diminishing the commitment of Section 3, this is to deeply criticize the BC NDP government for not providing the resources for Indigenous communities to be successful, and expecting them to deliver a response on unrealistic timelines.
I believe Minister Rankin has his priorities wrong. I suspect there is no capacity funding in Budget 2023 to support Indigenous communities on this either. We shall see in the coming weeks.
First, Premier David Eby needs to tell his whisperers in the hallways to stop blaming Indigenous people for his governments lack of good planning and House management.
Second, if we find ourselves at the end of this session using time allocation and closure, let it be known that it is not because Indigenous leaders were not able to deliver, but because the BC NDP government says all the right words about reconciliation, but knowingly does not provide the resources for Indigenous people to be successful partners in this work.
March 2, 2023
Last week the BC NDP government announced an investment of $500 million as an interim measure to keeping ferry fares affordable for BC Ferries users.
This will greatly assist my constituents of Saanich North and the Islands who live, work, and recreate on the Saanich Peninsula and Southern Gulf Islands! I have heard much gratitude for the investments. In questioning Minister Fleming’s priorities I raise that in addition to affordability, reliability, staffing shortages and other issues also need to be addressed at B.C. Ferries. I highlighted the need for increased budgets in road and highway maintenance and transit.
In Supplementary Budget Estimates we had the opportunity to ask about the priorities of Minister Rob Fleming. I had a few minutes with Minister Fleming, and will get into the other transportation related issues in the upcoming full Budget Estimates process.
The next round of community meetings will be hosted from March 10-18, 2023.
Join MLA Adam Olsen to discuss topics relating to the provincial government. Community meetings are open to the public and completely non-partisan.
On Mayne, Galiano, Pender and Saturna Islands, CRD Director Paul Brent, and on Salt Spring Island, CRD Director Gary Holman, will join MLA Olsen to highlight, update, and answer questions on the work they do together to represent and support the Gulf Island communities.
Please share these events with you friends and neighbours!
Learn more about upcoming events at https://www.saanichnorthandtheislands.com
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
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.
Our new office hours:
12:00pm – 6:00pm
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm
10:00am – 4:00pm