One of my top priorities is building a province where our children and grandchildren can thrive. We all seek a province where all children can play, explore, and experience the world.
To reach this goal, we are expanding affordable, high quality childcare and we are also working with First Nations to better protect B.C.’s forests so future generations can enjoy B.C.’s beauty.
For far too long, childcare was treated like a luxury that only the wealthiest families could afford. We are fixing this, by building a childcare system where good, affordable child care is a core service available for any family that wants it.
Access to high quality child care goes on to benefit families for the rest of their lives. When parents know their children are in safe hands and getting a good start, they can pursue their career goals or further their education.
This month, we announced funding for almost 400 new child care spaces in Victoria, including 48 new spaces at Uplands Campus off Henderson. These spaces add to over 2,000 new spaces in Greater Victoria that we have funded since 2018. And last month, we expanded our $10-a-day program to 13 more childcare sites on Vancouver Island, including 132 childcare spaces in Gordon Head where parents will now pay no more than $200 per month, per child. Since 2018, parents in Oak Bay-Gordon Head have saved almost $6 million on child care fees through reduced fees and benefits.
We also want our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy the beautiful forests that people in B.C. have treasured for generations.
I am happy to share that to date, B.C. and First Nations have agreed to defer nearly 1.7 million hectares of old growth, including 1.05 million hectares of at-risk old growth. This is an area equal to over 4,100 Stanley Parks, or more old growth than is currently protected in the Great Bear Rainforest. These latest deferrals mean that over 80 per cent of the old growth most at risk of irreversible biodiversity will not be threatened by short-term logging.
Our government is committed to implementing all 14 recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review – and are working towards a new Old Growth Strategy that will be complete by 2023 and prioritizes ecosystem health and community resiliency. The first step to better caring for our forests is to put Indigenous Peoples at the centre of land management in their territories.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to better care for our old growth forests and I am glad to say that we are on the right track – old growth logging has decreased by 40 per cent over the past five years.
Building a better B.C. for our children means thinking about what they need now and what they will need in the future.
Murray Rankin is member of the legislative assembly for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.