As the BC NDP government attempts to move into the post-pandemic world, the scars from our global fight against this vicious virus have been revealed.
The pandemic has exposed divisions in our society and as I prepare for the spring 2022 session of the B.C. legislative assembly, a major focus will be the coming budget.
At the beginning of the pandemic there was a multi-partisan effort to provide the provincial government with the resources it needed to support British Columbians through the challenging time. There was hope that the government would lead us in a collective effort to build back better.
COVID-19, and the series of severe weather events in 2021, has shone a light on deepening social inequality and decaying infrastructure, and how that is hampering the delivery of services like public health, transportation, and education.
The impact of unsustainable resource extraction methods has led to collapsing biodiversity, wildfires, floods, and landslides. The impacts of not investing in public health, and specifically primary care, has led to a growing two-tier health care system where clinics with family doctors are charging annual membership fees, and corporations such as Telus are offering a premium primary health-care service for those who can afford $4,700 a year.
It surprises me that the expansion of a two-tier health care system is happening under the watch of the BC NDP. However, this is just one of many examples of growing inequality on their watch.
Instead of focusing on collaboratively building back better, the BC NDP government has been in reaction mode, scrambling from one crisis to the next, applying band-aids.
We will be debating the budget starting in mid-February and there is a lot of pressure on Budget 2022 to offer a fiscal response to the wide array of social and environmental challenges we face. As this government is increasingly insular, the coming speech from the throne and budget are an opportunity for them to clearly lay out their goals and show their plan.
This is the opportunity for the BC NDP to articulate how they are going to address the confluence of crises in housing affordability, the thousands of deaths resulting from increasing toxicity in the illicit drug supply, the infrastructure deficit exposed by powerful and extreme weather events, an exhausted and fragile health care system, and our battered and failing ecosystems.
I hope in 2022 the BC NDP will be open to a more collaborative approach. None of the challenges we face are best solved through political ideology or theory, but through courageous, engaging, and empowering leadership.
Building back better is not about returning us to where we were pre-pandemic, but rather how are we going to build a society that produces a resilient and thriving economy without devastating the natural environments our survival and well-being depends on and does not further worsen the growing inequality that is leaving many of our friends and family behind.
I will continue to do my job as a member of the opposition critiquing the budget, but my hand will always be out to the premier to work together, because building back better is a responsibility that we all share.
Adam Olsen is the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.