As 2019 comes to a close, I am left with a sense of anxiety and uncertainty for not only the future of our province, but especially for those in my riding of Peace River North.
This year has been especially difficult for those in the forestry industry, many losing their jobs or coping with curtailments. Instead of offering any relief or solutions for a sector in desperate need, Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson has denied it's even a crisis, and Ravi Kahlon has gone on to say there are “too many mills.”
The government in Victoria has proven just out of touch they are with the needs of people around this province and continue to do little to help – meanwhile affected workers are struggling to put food on the table.
For months, the BC Liberals have been demanding action from a government missing in action. Instead, Premier John Horgan commented that communities crying out for help are more like ‘spoiled children.’ Not the words people can find comfort in at Christmas, especially after being out of work for months or looking into an uncertain future.
This year, Peace region farmers and ranchers have faced challenging times with only a few producers able to completely harvest their crops. Cashflow is a pressing issue, and with poor harvest conditions and lower canola prices, hardworking people who own and operate these farms and ranchers are in real jeopardy going into the next year. Government needs to be there for our farmers.
To top it off, contrary to government promises, life is not getting more affordable for British Columbians. ICBC rates are skyrocketing, gas prices are among the highest in North America and the NDP, supported by the Green Party, have maintained their 19 new and increased taxes.
But don’t rely on Victoria to be providing anything new come 2020; the cracks are starting to show as continuous fiscal updates portray a bleak future for B.C.’s budget. After inheriting a billion-dollar surplus from the BC Liberals, the NDP is teetering on the edge of a fiscal deficit after just two years. The NDP have had to say no to key election promises because they are simply out of money.
It’s clear there is reason to worry looking ahead to 2020, costs are rising and long-standing programs that communities have come to rely on, such as the Rural Dividend Fund, are left on the cutting room floor. However, I promise to all my constituents that I will continue to work hard to ensure their interests are heard at the Legislature.
I look forward to seeing many of you over the holiday season. On behalf of myself and staff, may the Christmas season fill your home with joy, your heart with love and your life with laughter.
Dan Davies is MLA for Peace River North.