Kelowna-area MLA doesn't expect much change by government in 2023

MLA's pessimistic outlook

2022 was a big year.

The year started with us thinking about COVID and the new Omicron variant but ended on a much different note, with concerns about inflation, the high cost of living and housing, all while our health care system is crumbling.

So what does 2023 hold for us in the Okanagan?

First off, expect minimal to no improvement in our health care system. With Health Minister Adrian Dix remaining in his role, expect more of the same. There will be more difficult stories about health outcomes that could have been different. Cancer care will continue to have long waits and delayed procedures.

None of the changes made to date will result in any monumental improvement to health care outcomes. Small tweaks to a system that is imploding is not acceptable. Radical change is needed to fix health care and we are not going to get it in 2023.

Is there more general stability coming? This past year was very volatile. Interest rates that weren't supposed to go up, did. The cost of living continued to skyrocket, inflation continued to escalate and housing prices seemed completely out of reach.

Unfortunately, I think that there is more to come in 2023.

Interest rates don't look like they are going to stabilize anytime soon and that means rental rates will go up to accommodate, and the cost of living and housing will continue to rise.

But what about affordable housing? BC Housing is in complete chaos. The board was fired, more than 100 executives left (including the CEO) and the organization is now in a full audit.

There have been two other audits performed recently, so I'm not sure what more they need to find. Suffice to say, the now David Eby-led NDP government have not been successful at delivering less expensive housing with BC Housing, or running an efficient organization. I don't expect that to change in 2023.

Will there be any relief from the government? Perhaps in ICBC rates, (with its two-year rate freeze) but gird yourself for the ricochet in year three, as this lever comes off and ICBC needs to make up for its losses.

Sadly, Eby and his government don’t plan out their decisions, preferring instead to flip-flop when it’s clear they messed up.

The flip flop on autism funding is an example of a reversed decision made by the government.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it listened to the Opposition and to parents, but the (original) decision to abandon the current system of funding was not consulted on or well thought out and should not have been made in the first place.

So can we expect any real change in that approach in 2023? Probably not.

There is hope because, as I mentioned previously, the role of Liberal Opposition is to continue to draw attention to where policy and government action could be better, and the path to get there.

So in 2023, I will continue to work on those things that are important to you those next year and my colleagues and I will be your voice in Victoria.

My question to you is this:

What would you like to me to focus on in 2023?

I love to hear from you. Email me at [email protected] or call my office at 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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