Opposition critic visits 100 Mile House

NDP's Claire Trevena meets with local social service agencies

Lloyd Garner

Lloyd Garner

The provincial NDP children and families critic Claire Trevena stopped in 100 Mile House and met with local social-service organizations on Sept. 12.

These included various Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre (CFEC) representatives and Community Planning Council executive director Lea Smirfitt.

It was part of a tour of the Interior to learn more about what’s important to these communities, Trevena says, adding she was “impressed” with the energy she found in the local groups.

“100 Mile House has really a very good, collaborative approach. People work together well in community social services, and it’s excellent feedback.

“There really are a lot of people working [there] to ensure the best can be done for the community, and kids and families.”

She held a round-table meeting during which anyone could comment or ask questions, she notes.

“I took away one very clear message from the meeting, and that was not just the fact you’re not getting enough funding for priority areas‚ and we know children and families are a priority‚ but the fact there isn’t that stable funding. There isn’t the ability to have long-term planning when you are an agency.”

Instead of looking three or four years ahead, Trevena says local organizations are forced with the difficulty of year-by-year planning, at best, based on which annual grants come available.

CFEC board chair Sheila Hart says the most important issue brought forward is the local gaming funding, which was cut in half when her agency brought the previous youth centre under its wing.

There is a cap on the annual gaming funds each agency can receive, she explains, so the previous society lost its grants of up to $99,000.

“We used to each get it. That’s a real challenge for the Youth Zone because it doesn’t have much government funding.”

The CFEC was also happy to show off its facilities and discuss other funding challenges with the NDP critic who Hart says understands the economics of a rural community serving a larger, satellite population.

Trevena visited the Youth Zone and the CFEC Child Care, and says both are “very impressive, very energetic” places.

“The Youth Zone really is quite a remarkable youth centre. I haven’t seen one quite [set up] in that way.”

While she visited the child-care centre at the end of the day, Trevena explains she “got a lot of good vibes” from it.

The group also talked about the importance of quality social provisions for children and their families, she notes, and addressed the need for a province-wide poverty reduction plan.

The local organizations understand there are limited dollars, the critic says, so these advocates discussed how to apply those in the best possible way for children and families.

The information she is gathering on “what works and what doesn’t” is important in her role as opposition critic, Trevena adds.

“The [B.C.] Liberal government’s record on child poverty is disgraceful. Over the last eight years, child poverty rates in B.C. have been the worst in the country, and the Liberals’ pilot projects have done little to improve the quality of life for British Columbians.

“Agencies in every community are working hard to ensure a good quality of life for kids and families, but they’re struggling against the odds.”