As more British Columbians get vaccinated, our province can begin looking forward with cautious optimism that we are turning the corner in our fight against COVID-19. As we look towards a year we all hope will be one of recovery, now is the time to look back at our pandemic and identify those who were disproportionately impacted by the socio-economic challenges of COVID-19, and identify the supports government must provide to help those who were hit hardest make a full recovery.

As your representative of a region that prides itself on its wide array of small and independently-owned businesses, my Official Opposition colleagues and I have strongly criticized John Horgan for his poorly-planned Small and Medium-Sized Business Grant Recovery program, which has only managed to get out $55 million of the $300 million approved by government more than ten months ago. We must ensure our businesses have ample time and opportunity to access the supports they need, which is why I was glad our BC Liberal caucus successfully held government to account until they extended the grant’s application deadline from March 31st to August 31st

It is crucial to also remember how women have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Many of our female-dominated industries have been thrust onto the frontlines of the pandemic, including health care and social assistance (82.4 per cent women in B.C. labour force), education (69.3 per cent), and food and hospitality (58.5 per cent). Women have also experienced significantly higher job losses than men throughout the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, rather than take action and find viable solutions to our province’s gender gap, John Horgan and the NDP have refused to debate the Equal Pay Reporting Act, tabled three separate times by my colleague, MLA Stephanie Cadieux, that would help address the gender wage gap in our province. We need to re-evaluate the conditions that are creating these disparities and find ways to address them.

As your MLA, I will continue to advocate for changes that will remove the many disparities this pandemic has shed light on, so we can ensure our community and all communities across B.C. receive the support they need to lead our province into a full recovery.