This has been a spring that has been painfully slow but the blossoms are starting to pop which is always a good sign. And, of course, it will be summer and extremely hot before we can blink.
For all of us in the South Okanagan we can celebrate the opening of the David Kempe Tower at the Penticton Regional Hospital that everyone living in the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen has financially contributed to. It was taxes collected by the RDOS for many years that enabled the first shovel in the ground on this project and paid for 40% of the cost to build.
On another health related issue I am relieved to see an agreement with Interior Health and our local doctors to keep a 24 hour Emergency Service available at the South Okanagan General Hospital. Also a big thank you to the local communities of Oliver and Osoyoos who are looking at supporting the costs of housing for doctors who are here for shorter periods of time. All of these things that support our Health Care system make our communities better places to live.
With an aging demographic the demands on our medical system will continue to grow but through projects like this and improvements in medical technology we are well positioned for the challenges. I am also excited to see that Interior Health has announced that the renovations to South Okanagan General Hospital will begin this month.
Some areas of concern are not so easy to correct and the need for more people, of all ages, to enter the Health Care field continues to be a challenge. School District 53, in partnership with Okanagan College and Interior Health, are training Care Aides right out of high school and also offering the program to others in the community. We need to continue to support these hands on programs being offered to students while in their senior years at school.
Many of you will have noticed the amount of culvert installations happening throughout the region. This is in response to flood issues from last spring and more preventative work happen as we move ahead. I realize not everyone’s issue has been dealt with yet but there is a backlog of paperwork being worked through. Please keep my office informed about concerns you have in your neighbourhood with flooding and we will add our voices to yours to government.
Whether you are a fan of LNG or not, the BC Liberal Government, while in power, included in legislation the mandatory public disclosure of contract agreements with proponents. The NDP Government attempted to remove that disclosure from the legislation and in an extremely rare vote of the MLA’s in the House we were able to defeat the motion. We have always believed that LNG was good for the Province and always believed the public had a right to know what deals Government was making on behalf of the people of BC regarding this incredible resource.
For those of you who have pets and are fans of the work the SPCA does, they will be celebrating 125 years of service in BC in 2020. They are the oldest Not-For-Profit organization in British Columbia and rely almost entirely on personal donations. They also do compassionate boarding for pets of women leaving abusive relationships and are expanding that service where possible. I am a long time monthly supporter of the SPCA and grateful for the work they do.
The election in Alberta is now history and we hold our breathe waiting to see if Premier Kenney will follow through with his promises to strangle our gas supply. We have all experienced the ups and downs of gas prices at the pumps and we are certainly more fortunate than the commuters in the Lower Mainland, but it could get much worse. Alberta supplies, directly or indirectly, over 80% of the gasoline and diesel used in British Columbia.
We are many, many years away from electrifying our means of transportation and driving prices up on fuels will not make it happen any faster. Everything we eat, wear and touch every day has used a form of fuel transportation to reach us. The more expensive to transport the more the costs to all consumers will rise.I sincerely hope solutions will be found by those at the top of the food chain, the Federal and Provincial Governments.
And finally, there are more children outside playing as the weather slowly improves so please be extra alert around playgrounds and schools.
Linda Larson was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2013 provincial election. She represents the electoral district of Boundary-Similkameen as a member of the BC Liberal Party.