British Columbians gear up for change as premier-designate John Horgan and his cabinet prepare to be formally sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon at the Government House on July 18. Horgan’s New Democratic Party (NDP), with votes from the Andrew Weaver-led Green Party, successfully ended the 16-year B.C. Liberal rule after the May 9 provincial elections.
“British Columbians work hard to build a better life for themselves and their families. But for years, life in B.C. has been getting harder and more expensive. That’s about to change.
There’s a lot of work to do to fix the problems British Columbians are facing. We’re ready to get started,” Horgan said in a previous statement.
Canadian Filipino Mable Elmore, elected to a third straight term as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Vancouver-Kensington, said she is “very excited” with the new government.
“After 16 years under the B.C. Liberals and eight years since I’ve been elected in the Opposition, we’re looking to bring a lot of changes that we’ve heard from the people, in particular the Filipino community.”
Elmore wouldn’t offer any hints on her possible Cabinet position. “If I’m called to whatever capacity, I’m willing to serve. Let’s just wait and see. I haven’t heard yet.”
If given a choice though, she’d like to work in areas she has been involved in, namely, immigration, temporary foreign workers, multi-culturalism, and finance.
“My heart is really to be of service to the community and to work in behalf of community. My view is that government should work for the people,” she said.
A known advocate of immigrant rights, Elmore considers affordability as the top issue that needs to be addressed. “The NDP government is committed to building affordable homes and make these available for everyone across the spectrum,” she said.
Another boon for immigrants is the planned improvement of services. Elmore promised healthcare wait times in the province will be better. “We likewise plan to upgrade highways, to build bridges and to improve transit.”
She likewise vowed to re-initiate funding for adult education courses.
Working with the immigrant communities, Elmore said individual stories stuck with her, citing a meeting with a 22-year-old newcomer from the Philippines who can barely afford to pay $550 per course to upgrade her skills. “We will now offer these courses free of charge,” she said.
The three-term MLA said another important issue is to provide more affordable post-secondary education. The new government plans to reduce or totally eliminate interest rates on student loans.
She lamented the fact that British Columbia has the highest student debt. “The government has a higher collection from student debt than from corporate taxes.”
Statistics from the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators reveal tuition revenues across the province have gone up 350 per cent since 2002.
She said there is “chronic underfunding” of schools while the dropout rate for immigrant youth is critical.
Meanwhile, Elmore noted that Filipinos come to Canada with higher levels of educational attainment than others but end up receiving the lowest wages. “We have to make sure our foreign credentials are recognized in the province.”
Another welcome news for Canadian Filipinos is the NDP government’s vision of building a sustainable economy. “One of our initiatives is to support BC products and to provide opportunities for people here. We want to provide good-paying jobs to British Columbians.”
Elmore’s supporters hope an appointment in the B.C. Cabinet for her would hasten economic-political empowerment for Canadian Filipinos in the province.