It’s no surprise that transportation is a hot topic for the West Shore’s newest MLA, Mitzi Dean.
“I’m going to continue advocating for our communities for a solution to the congestion,” Dean said, adding traffic problems impact all areas of residents’ lives, from their commute to the amount of time they can spend with family.
Dean was elected as an NDP candidate in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding. She took the leap into politics after serving as the executive director of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association in Colwood. The Gazette caught up with her after the NDP presented their financial plan for the province.
“We are strategic in the measures we’re putting in,” she said. “Collaboration is the best way forward in serving people.”
The update to the provincial budget that Finance Minister Carole James announced last week was the first financial plan Premier John Horgan’s minority government has presented. Highlights include promises to build thousands of rental units and housing for the homeless.
The West Shore is no exception to B.C.’s housing problems and it’s something Dean is all too aware of. “It’s the skyrocketing costs of housing,” she explained. “Increasing the capacity in housing stock and increasing affordable housing is really important … Being able to live and look after your family is critical.”
Besides increasing housing options for all members of society, Dean noted the new government is working hard to address gaps in mental health and addiction programs – something that is having an huge impact on communities across the province and not just the West Shore.
“There’s children that have been falling through the gaps for years.” With wait lists for programs and services that can be months or even years, Dean said it’s a problem that’s not isolated to Vancouver Island. “That’s something we’ve been hearing across the province,” she added.
But while there is no easy fix, Dean noted the government is working hard to collaborate with stakeholders and individuals on the ground to help implement programs and services that can help address the overdose crisis in the province.
“There’s a lot of different dimensions to the intervention we need,” she said, adding that needs to also include prevention.
Noticeably absent from the update was the NDP’s campaign promise of $10-a-day daycare, something that had some voters and advocates concerned, despite James’ promise that it would be coming at a later date.
Dean reiterated the promise. “We’re still committed to that … what we need is more time,” she explained. “We want to be able to put our best plan forward.”
The NDP plans to present its first full budget in February, and Dean expects daycare will be included in that budget. She noted some other items under consideration include housing subsidies, a fair wage commission and a plan to end MSP premiums.
Dean’s constituency office at Admirals Walk is expected to have a soft opening in the coming weeks with a grand opening next month.