Saturday, November 29, 2008

North Coast MLA finds Bill 45 comes up short for the northwest

Gary Coons is making the best of the session that almost wasn't, as he takes the government to task over what he believes are missed opportunities for the North coast.

Expressing his concern over the lack of financial incentives for health care, addiction services and expanded funding for further development of the Fairview Container Port, the North Coast MLA found himself at odds with both the Speaker and the Minister of Housing over the issues that he raised in the Legislature this week.

Thursday's Daily News outlined the debating points on Bill 45 and how Coons approached the discussion on the issues he finds key to the North Coast.

Economic package misses mark for MLA
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, November 27, 2008

North Coast MLA Gary Coons took the provincial government to task on its 10-point economic stimulus package Tuesday in the mini, five-day assembly held specifically to debate the package.
The Economic Incentives and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act, or Bill 45, introduced by Finance Minister Colin Hansen, is being debated in house this week.

Coons argued that the package did not go far enough to address local concerns about the Fairview Container port expansion, North Coast health issues, and he pointed out that the property assessment freeze was not the subject of consultations with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities before it was introduced.

"The opportunity was there to look at dealing with mental health and addiction services. In the riding that I come from, up in Prince Rupert - whether it's in Prince Rupert, Queen Charlotte Islands, the Central Coast, Bella Bella, Bella Coola or Stewart - there's a desperate need for help," said Coons.

Coons, who was told by the speaker of the house on numerous occasions to keep on topic, continued to argue that Bill 45 could have made an impact on the health care services along the North Coast but that Premier Gordon Campbell missed the opportunity.

"When we look at the Economic Incentives and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act, that could have come in there to help stabilize some of the drug and addiction programs throughout the province," said Coons.

Minister for Housing Rich Coleman responded to Coons, saying that the new plan had made a commitment to housing, health and infrastructure.

"Go look at the budget, members. Go look at the budget. The budget has money in there for education. The budget has money in there for health care. The budget has the money in there to do this," said Coleman.

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