Companies pay $2.25 for 1 million litres of BC water

March 30, 2015

Water bottling companies in B.C. pay just $2.25 for a million litres of our clean, fresh drinking water. That’s a good deal for multi-national corporations, and a bad deal for British Columbians and the plants, animals and communities that depend on our water. This sweetheart deal for industrial and commercial water users comes after years of cuts to scientist and conservation officer posts – jobs that ensure our natural resources are protected.

British Columbians expect our resources to be managed properly. That includes ensuring corporations that benefit from our natural resources pay their fair share towards protecting and preserving them for future generations.

Instead of setting water access fees at rock bottom rates, the government could use this as an opportunity to raise money that will put boots on the ground to manage and protect our air, land and water. Fees for industrial and commercial water use are so low there is no incentive for commercial and industrial users to take steps to conserve water.

I do not believe that our water resources should be for sale to the highest bidder – however, water usage and rental rates should encourage conservation, and fund environmental protection and enforcement.

I hope you will take the time to write to Premier Clark and the Minister of the Environment Mary Polak and let them know you are unhappy with their plan to give away our precious water. Email Premier Clark at premier@gov.bc.ca; send a message to Minister Mary Polak at env.minister@gov.bc.ca.

 

20 cent wage increase still leaves full time workers below poverty line

A 20 cent increase to the minimum wage brings the province’s lowest hourly pay to $10.45 – but it still leaves a full-time minimum wage worker below the poverty line.

In contrast, B.C.’s top 2 per cent of income earners received a $236 million tax break, meaning an individual earning $200,000 a year will enjoy a $2000 tax cut, and someone earning a million dollars will keep $17,000 more in income than last year.

Low and middle income families need a real break. For years, I’ve been calling for the minimum wage to be adjusted regularly to compensate for inflation, and if the government had listened the last time, minimum wage workers in BC would already be making hundreds of dollars more per year.

A 20 cent raise isn’t enough, and this, and future planned raises, are far less than the government’s planned increases for hydro rates, MSP fees, ferry fares, and other hidden taxes.

 

Poverty reduction post card campaign

B.C. remains the only Canadian province without a poverty reduction plan. One out of every five children in B.C. live in poverty. Since 1989, B.C.’s child poverty rate has risen from 15.5% to 20.6%. The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition’s postcard campaign asks the premier to commit to a comprehensive poverty reduction plan for B.C. Come to my office and sign a postcard and I’ll send it to the premier for you. http://bcpovertyreduction.ca/

 

Protecting whistleblowers in public interest

Last month, I introduced the Whistleblowers Protection Act in the Legislature. This private member’s bill would ensure that government employees can speak out about sensitive issues without getting fired.
British Columbians have a right to know that the government and public officials are not acting in an unacceptable manner. In order to do this, we need to protect those with information and ensure that they are defended when they choose to disclose that information.

As it stands, there is insufficient legislation in British Columbia today that deals with reporting and protecting disclosures. This bill would create a process for reporting disclosures annually and also empowers the Ombudsperson to oversee the proper administration of this legislation. All reports will be made public and increase the transparency afforded to different ministries and public spheres.

Whistleblowers often have to decide between taking the higher moral ground and the potential effects from disclosing. A person trying to decide between doing what is right and keeping their job will often turn a blind eye to matters relating to the mismanagement of public funds or assets, gross environmental damage, or unlawful acts by civil servants.

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