MLA lays out her priorities for 2023

Working on the issues

The beginning of the year provides such a great opportunity to refresh goals, reset priorities, and renew focus on what’s important.

As an MLA, I am excited to serve my constituents’ priorities, and make sure that Kelowna’s voice is heard in the provincial Legislative Assembly. Their responses to these columns, as well as all the communication I have received while home since November has been so helpful in understanding where to focus.

Additionally, I am starting my second year as the environment and climate change strategy critic, and gender equality and inclusion critic. These critic roles serve as my second charge in how I focus my time and efforts and provide opportunity to understand and solidify how British Columbia moves forward in these specific areas.

I have written about what I am working on as critic, so I am going to focus today on how I am going to serve the priorities of Kelowna specifically, in this coming year.

As I move into 2023, here are the issues I have heard about from you.

Health care

So many people in Kelowna don’t have family doctors, and thus, are getting sicker before getting help. Our health care system is imploding and doctors are sounding the alarm. Kelowna General Hospital is, on average, at 120-130% capacity. That is not sustainable. I will continue to advocate for more general practice physicians, more capacity in our acute care system and better health outcomes for you.

Cancer care

We need more capacity in our cancer treatment. People are waiting far too long for diagnosis and treatment, which adversely affects their outcomes. In meeting with many in Kelowna, the cancer story told is one of a system of great doctors and nurses who are stretched too thin trying to provide care for so many. I will advocate for a fully funded, 10-year cancer strategic plan, focused on increase capacity, an upgraded cancer care clinic here in Kelowna and lower wait times for better outcomes.

Cost of living

People are struggling. Gas, food, utilities, clothes – it doesn’t matter which essential service or good, things are expensive. People are striving to make ends meet and the government isn’t helping. Increased taxes and bureaucracy are adding to this burden. I will advocate for lower and fewer taxes, as well as relief for British Columbians on the costs they bear.


The cost of housing, despite the Bank of Canada’s drastic escalation in interest rates, is still the highest in history. I will continue to focus on bringing more supply to the market, and supporting measures that will accomplish that for Kelowna.

Mental health

Our mental health system is chaotic and not focused on healing, wholeness, and rehabilitation. We see it in our families, workplaces and see the despair on our streets. Recently, I was asked by some graduate researchers at UBC where to find B.C.’s comprehensive mental health plan. I had to sadly tell them there isn’t one. I will stand up for those struggling with mental health issues. I will advocate for psychologists to be added to MSP and for the complex care facility in Kelowna that was announced twice.


I have heard how fearful people are walking around, or using Kelowna’s beautiful natural amenities. I will continue to work to make Kelowna’s streets safer, and work to lower the number of prolific offenders and crime. I will advocate for greater measures asked for by the B.C. Prosecution Services and for serious resources to help it prosecute crimes.

These priorities are what I have heard from you.

My question this week is this:

Have I missed anything important to you?

I love hearing from you. Please 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 Opposition caucus whip and critic for Environment and Climate Change, Technology and Innovation and Citizens’ Services. She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee on Education 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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