As a delegate to this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention I was involved in debating a motion that seeks the elimination of MSP premiums for seniors.
As we all know our premier of B.C. has announced a policy of putting families first and seniors I believe are important members of our families. Seniors in B.C. are the only ones in Canada, who pay provincial medical insurance premiums. Many seniors in B.C are struggling to pay their bills for daily needs and many retirees are on an average annual pension of $18,192 for a retired public servant and a municipal worker $15,492 as of February, 2010. It was resolved that UBCM call upon the Province of B.C. to eliminate medical insurance premiums for seniors in B.C. and to bear any associated cost.
B.C. is the only province in Canada that charges its citizens a premium for their publicly funded health care coverage. Every other province collects its health care funding through a combination of transfers from the federal government and provincial income taxes.
In about six months we will hopefully know what will happen to this resolution.
Keremeos Grist Mill was also on the table and I met with Honourable Minister Steve Thompson, to inform him and the province, that the Grist Mill is an important component of the tourism economy, for the Okanagan – Similkameen region and to request when we will hear what future funding from the province for the Grist Mill will be and to inform the province, that if the future funding for the Grist Mill was at a sustainable level and the deferred maintenance could be addressed we the RDOS would consider entering into a future Site Management Agreement on operating the Grist Mill.
The meeting with the minister and his staff I believe was very promising and I am hopeful that we might get a five year deal out of this, Our local MLA John Slater will keep an eye on things in Victoria. The blessing and backing from the BC Heritage Branch has been obtained.
I also met with Honourable Margaret MacDiarmid Minister of Labour, Citizen Service and open Government re: cell service along Highway 3 and 3A in electoral Area “G”, trying to ensure reliable communication for emergency purposes. Cellular service providers erect towers on crown land in areas where they expect to make a profit. They should be directed to provide service to rural and remote areas as part of permission granted for additional crown land installations. I requested support from the ministry for accessing funds announced in June of $100 million per year for 10 years to improve the cell phone coverage in Hedley and Highway 3 in the Similkameen valley, as well as Indian Rock and Glen Fir communities in Area “E.”
I also met with the Honourable Dr. Terry Lake, Minister of Environment to inform him and the province of the yearly flood affecting the residents of Olalla and their properties due to a large floodplain resulting from the overflow of Keremeos Creek from mid-April until August. I wanted to urge the province to implement flood protection strategies to repair the creek structure and create a flood protection system to prevent future flooding events and mitigate the potential health and property risks to Olalla residents. I argued that the residents of Olalla deserve to regain a decent quality of life. Each summer they are inundated with fears of losing property damage, health risk and the millions of mosquitoes, and the West Nile Virus ones are getting closer. A great concern is the cattle that are using the fields all year and the feces are deposited on the fields and the flood water flows across the fields, this risks the introduction of pathogenic bacteria including E coli 0157 and Cryptosporidium to the watercourse. Also, the Keremeos Irrigation District has some concern as it is possible that two of their wells draw from the creek.
The flooding is now being looked at more closely and our MLA and I are lobbying the minister for an answer.
By Elef Christensen