In the coming days, the spring sitting of the legislature will begin. We will discuss and vote on key issues that matter to people. When it comes to today’s most pressing issues, including affordability, health care, the toxic drug crisis, or the climate crisis, we know that band-aid fixes won’t help people. That’s why our government is taking a prudent approach to find solutions that will bring long-lasting change.
Our strategic, long-term approach to overhaul ICBC resulted in a financially stable public auto insurance system that provides better care and benefits to people. We addressed issues from the inside-out, bringing back faith in ICBC and saving British Columbians $594 million in 2021.
And by repealing a previous government’s legislation that caused massive health care privatization, last November we were able to bring cleaning and dietary workers in six Greater Victoria hospitals and health-care facilities back as in-house employees. Thousands more workers will be repatriated across B.C., meaning that more workers in health care will have fair wages, job security, and good working conditions – and patients will have better care.
In 2019, B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through legislation. Two years later, in 2021, the government of Canada passed Bill C-15, similar legislation at the federal level. As a result, today the UN Declaration is the framework for reconciliation for both the federal and provincial governments, responding to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. All provincial and federal ministries are now legally required work to advance reconciliation, both in B.C. and Canada.
In B.C., we have engaged Indigenous peoples across B.C. on the Declaration Act’s draft action plan and are now finalizing our work to incorporate the feedback. The final plan will include tangible initiatives across all our government. They will advance self-determination and self-government, help end anti-Indigenous racism, and contribute to the social, cultural, and economic well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities.
In collaboration with Indigenous partners, in the last legislative session we added Indigenous identity as a protected ground in the B.C. Human Rights Code. We strengthened the K-12 curriculum to better and more fairly reflect the rich history of Indigenous peoples in B.C. We also recognized Indigenous peoples’ jurisdiction over child and family services, supported First Nations jurisdiction over education, and developed and endorsed the First Nations justice strategy— a new approach to the criminal justice system that reflects the vision and priorities of First Nations communities throughout B.C. We have been providing support to Indigenous communities that are undertaking investigative work at former Indian residential school sites, while strengthening available cultural and wellness supports for people experiencing trauma from the findings.
There is much more work to do. We know that there are no simple solutions. But I hope that when we look back, we will all be proud to live in a province where concrete steps are being taken to achieve more fairness, equity, and sustainability.
Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation.