Dan Davies – Weekly Column – John Horgan’s post-pandemic recovery plan is still missing

Last week, I had the honour of [virtually] attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention, where…

Last week, I had the honour of [virtually] attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention, where MLAs connected with elected officials and representatives from our local municipalities and Regional Districts. These meetings are invaluable for discussing the crucial issues and addressing the challenges in our local communities to help build a stronger province for all.

While the challenges of the pandemic are certainly not behind us, British Columbians are already looking toward a post-pandemic future that we all hope will be one of recovery. Here in Fort St. John and around the country, the challenges COVID has brought to our homes and communities go beyond the virus itself. Inflation is hitting an 18-year high, B.C.’s forecast deficit is estimated at $4.8 billion, and our province is still down 12,600 full-time jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels. We know that the economic challenges from this pandemic will be with us long after COVID is behind us, which is why British Columbians are looking to the Premier and his government for a concrete economic plan that will lead B.C. into its post-pandemic future.

Frustratingly, this plan is still missing.

B.C. has an emerging labour shortage, many businesses have record debt, and necessities like housing, gas, food and child care have never been more expensive for British Columbians. One of the key messages we heard during our UBCM roundtables was that we need to remove the barriers that are keeping hardworking British Columbians out of the workforce. Access to affordable housing and childcare are two of the most prominent barriers right now.

The NDP has fallen well short of its commitment to build 114,000 new units of housing in 10 years — constructing just 5,269 units over four years. At the same time, housing prices have been driven up across the province to an all-time high and the prospect of homeownership is sadly becoming less achievable for more and more British Columbians. The NDP has also overpromised and underdelivered on their childcare promises. This has been reflected in our labour force participation rate, where statistics show that parents — and especially mothers — have disproportionately left the workforce and are struggling to return.

We also need a plan to make trades training and post-secondary education more accessible to everyday British Columbians so that we can develop a workforce with the skills to meet our labour force needs and move our economy into our post-pandemic future.

Our work both as an effective Opposition and for government to map out a clear plan for the future depends on the invaluable input from the many strong voices of our local governments at UBCM, and their message was clear: we need to remove the barriers and increase the supports that will enable our province to get back to work, and we need a plan from government to do just that. Only then can we start rebuilding our economy and create a successful post-pandemic future for B.C.

In closing, please get vaccinated. We must get COVID under control as our hospitals are over capacity. You can walk in to the vaccine clinic at the Totem Mall any time during regular hours or contact my office to find out times for drive-thru and pop-up clinics.

Thanks for Reading!

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