It’s hard to believe we are still trying to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in our personal and professional lives. We’re all hoping this is the year we can finally put the pandemic behind us, but in the meantime, I continue to be amazed by the strength and resilience shown by the people of Kamloops. With more uncertainty in our lives right now due Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, we need each other more than ever.
In the same way that we as individuals have had to adapt and respond nimbly to COVID’s challenges, so too have our local businesses. They have been under tremendous strain, trying to stay afloat as the pandemic has limited their operations and reduced the number of people coming through their doors. Fewer customers meant reduced revenues, and that has led to extremely difficult decisions for business owners who have been forced to reduce shifts, lay workers off, or close up shop for good. It’s an understatement to say it’s been tough on everyone involved, and in my role as the Official Opposition Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, I have been working hard to press the provincial government for adequate financial supports to get businesses back on their feet.
Despite the many challenges, we have also seen businesses pivot their operations to attract new clientele. They have shown tremendous creativity and innovation in their efforts to launch new products and services and stay connected to their staff and customers. But this is no surprise, given the remarkable talent we have here in Kamloops. We are blessed to live in a city that encourages entrepreneurship and buying local; a city where people can develop their potential simply by looking around. Inspiration is everywhere, and it’s most certainly found in the successful leaders who have proven Kamloops is a place to chase big dreams and achieve great things.
As we look ahead to a post-pandemic world, we also expect big things from our government. We deserve a clear plan as to how B.C. is going to emerge from COVID-19 stronger and more competitive than before. We expect quick movement on key government promises to address the affordability crisis, as inflation rises and the cost of everything — from housing to gas to groceries — continues to go up.
Locally we want to see new and improved infrastructure, and the jobs that go along with this progress. We need new schools for our growing city; a long-promised cancer centre to provide patients with care closer to home; investments in complex care, mental health and addiction services in our community; and transportation upgrades to improve the flow of goods.
When we create these local jobs, we expect our government to work hard to keep them. We need a health human resources strategy to attract and retain family doctors in the city, and to prevent nurses from leaving their positions due to stress and burnout. We need a clear, concrete plan to grow private sector jobs in our province now and for years to come.
As your MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, these projects and initiatives are part of my ambitious plan for our future. It’s my hope the government will recognize the urgency and necessity of these requests and work quickly to make them a reality.