After being sworn in as B.C.’s 37th premier, David Eby has quickly got to work addressing some of the key issues that people in B.C. care most about right now – safer communities, a stronger health-care system, and affordable housing.
People in our community and across B.C. have voiced their concerns for the safety of their fellow community members, and we know this is top-of-mind in many communities.
In working to make communities safer, we have to also address the root causes of crime and violence. Along with Premier Eby, I was proud to announce actions to enhance our response and keep our communities safer, including through the Safer Communities Action Plan, which we’re putting into action right away to bolster law enforcement to address repeat violent offences and strengthen multi-pronged response services to build safe, healthy communities for everyone.
This plan includes expanding mental-health crisis response teams into more communities so police can focus on crime, and people in crisis can get the care they need in their community, without needing police intervention. We also are establishing new coordinated response teams to address the issue of repeat violent offenders. These teams will be comprised of police, dedicated prosecutors, and probation officers working together. Through taking this approach, people who repeatedly commit violent crimes will face consequences, while we also ensure they’re supported to break out of cycles of crime and violence.
Alongside this, we made a historic investment of an additional $230 million over the next three years that will support rural and specialized police services, so police can do their jobs effectively with the resources they need.
As part of this, it’s important to address addictions care – we’re taking advice from the expert team at the St. Paul’s Hospital Clinical Addictions Program to create a new model of addictions care. This will help people at every stage, from crisis response to detox to treatment and aftercare services.
Housing is another priority of Premier Eby’s. Everyone deserves a home they can afford and thrive in. While acting as attorney general, I worked with Premier Eby to enact the Housing Supply Act, designed to shift our approach and create more homes for people. The bill passed unanimously, and will turn more vacant units into rentals, remove unfair restrictions keeping people out of strata housing, and get homes built faster
Changes we’ve made to strata rules will allow more homes to be rented out, putting more empty units on the rental market. We also removed age restrictions on stratas, so more housing options are available to families, while making an exception for 55+ community stratas, so that seniors can stay in their chosen communities. This work will help create more housing in areas with demonstrated and growing need, so more people can find more homes.
In my last report, I also highlighted many of the concrete steps we’ve taken to address health-care needs, such as allowing pharmacists to prescribe and renew some medicines, and steps to address the doctor shortage, including training, recruitment and retention. I look forward to sharing more of our work on this issue as we progress.
In less than a month, Premier Eby and our team have taken important, concrete steps on the issues that matter most to British Columbians. People across the province want to have diverse, affordable, healthy communities to live in, and your government is working hard to make sure this is the reality for our community, and communities everywhere in B.C.
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Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.