(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Issues

Bill M221 — School Amendment Act, 2017

Today in the legislature I introduced a private member’s bill entitled Bill M221 — School Amendment Act, 2017. This Bill amends the School Act to require that a by-election be held within one year of school board trustees being removed and an official trustee being appointed to a District Board of Education. This situation arises, for example, when a school board is fired as has occurred in Vancouver School District 39 and North Okanagan Shuswap School District 83. This Bill recognizes the importance of the democratic nature of school boards. It is essential that school boards are elected so that they are accountable to the communities they serve, and so that they reflect the distinct nature of the district they represent.


Text of my Introduction


A. Weaver: It gives me pleasure to move that a bill intituled School Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: This bill amends the School Act to require that a by-election be held within one year of school board trustees being removed and an official trustee being appointed to a district board of education. This situation arises, for example, when a school board is fired.

This bill recognizes the importance of the democratic nature of school boards. It’s essential that school boards are elected so that they can be accountable to the communities they serve and so that they reflect the distinct nature of the district they represent. To this end, this bill would ensure that an appointed trustee cannot be in place for more than one year before an election is held.

I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill M221, School Amendment Act, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.


Video of my Introduction



Media Release


Weaver introduces bill to require by-elections when a school board trustee is appointed

For immediate release
February 23rd, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – When a school board is removed and an official trustee is appointed, it is essential that an election be held as soon as possible thereafter, to protect the democratically elected nature of school boards.

Today Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, introduced the School Amendment Act. The bill requires that by-elections be held within one year of school board trustees being removed and an official trustee being appointed to a District Board of Education. This situation arises, for example, when a school board is fired.

“This bill recognizes how important it is that our school boards are democratically elected. School boards that reflect and understand the unique nature of their district are better able to serve their communities,” says Weaver, also the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

“Elections ensure that school boards are accountable to their community, and provide for local representation in decision-making.

“If passed, this amendment would protect the democratic nature of school boards by ensuring that an appointed trustee cannot be in place for more than one year before an election is held.”

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Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
+1 250-216-3382 | mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Fixing a Gap in Adult Education

A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the high cost of upgrading high school courses. I wrote to the Minister of Education to ask that he consider removing the barriers to educational access that his government put in place in May 2015. I received a disappointing response which failed to address the key concerns of the letter.

I subsequently wrote to the Minister of Advanced Education urging him to close a gap in coverage that the policy change had created. When government chose to end funding for high school graduates upgrading  secondary courses, they forced secondary schools to charge tuition to high school graduates. This included public schools, like SIDES or The Link, which offer online classes and are well suited for academic upgrading.

Along with the policy change government introduced the Adult Upgrading Grant, which is administered by the Ministry of Advanced Education and is meant to provide some support for low-income students. However, this grant only covers courses taken at post-secondary institutions and does not include any of the secondary schools which now have to charge tuition to high school graduates. I asked the minister to extend the grant to a more diverse group of schools, in particular to secondary schools which focus on distributed learning and currently have high rates of enrollment for students upgrading courses.

A non trivial component of the government’s surplus has come at the expense of those who can least afford it. Cuts to those seeking to upgrade their high school education to pursue work and educational opportunities do nothing more than perpetuate the poverty trap. British Colombians deserve a government which will make education more accessible for all British Colombians.

Below I reproduce the text of my letter and I will share the response when it is forthcoming.


Text of the Letter


February 12, 2017

Honourable Andrew Wilkinson
Minister of Advanced Education
PO Box 9080 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC
V8W 9E2
Canada

Dear Minister Wilkinson,

I’m writing to you in light of concerns that constituents have brought to my attention regarding the high cost of upgrading high school courses.

As you know, in 2015, the provincial government ended funding for students upgrading high school courses, if they have already graduated. Since that policy change, returning students now face a fee, generally $500-$550 per course, to take grade 11/12 course. These fees place an undue burden on individuals, and their families, as they work to expand their professional and academic opportunities.

I have learned that at the South Island Distance Education School (SIDES) in Victoria alone, there are hundreds of students who are unable to afford the fees of upgrading their courses, and thus remain on the waitlist. This does not include the many who don’t even apply to join the waitlist, discouraged from doing so when they learn the cost.

I have written the Minister of Education about my concerns with this policy and am now writing you to outline a specific gap that it has created.

The Ministry of Education still funds high school courses for students who have not graduated. The Ministry of Advanced Education provides support for low-income students who have graduated and are taking high school level courses at one of nineteen post-secondary institutions.

There is, however, no support for students who have graduated high school and are pursuing academic upgrading through institutions other than post-secondary schools. For example, high school graduates attending public schools in Victoria, like SIDES or the Link, are not eligible for tax deductions, reimbursement under RESPs, or the Adult Upgrading Grant.

These two schools specialize in providing a flexible academic environment to accommodate the needs of students. With many returning students are juggling career and family obligations, this an ideal environment for them to return. Attending a school focused on secondary education can also be less jarring return to the education system for many students.

I find it difficult to understand why two students of similar income levels could take equivalent courses that have comparable prices and that only one would receive government support.

As your ministry oversees the Adult Upgrading Grants, I ask that you increase the number of institutions which are approved to administer them. Specifically, I ask that you give public schools that have a focus on distributed learning the ability to authorize these grants.

If you feel that this falls outside the purview of your ministry, then I urge you to coordinate with the Minister of Education and develop a funding program which would achieve the same results.

I fully believe that we should all fund students who pursue academic upgrading, whether or not they’ve graduated. British Columbians have been promised a high school education, and there is more to that than just a diploma. Whether or not someone has graduated, they should be supported as they flesh out their secondary education, seeking to open their mind or opportunities.

At the very least, this government should, fill the gap that has been created by its policy change and provide the Adult Upgrading Grant to a more diverse group of institutions, including specialized secondary schools.

Sincerely,

Andrew Weaver
MLA, Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Expanding Coverage of Insulin Pumps

In 2014 the Ministry of Health made an important decision to fund insulin pumps for British Columbians under the age of 25, with Type 1 diabetes. I recently wrote the Minister of Health, urging him to go farther and eliminate that age requirement in order to cover all British Columbians with the disease.

This is a policy that could greatly increase the quality of treatment for thousands of people. Insulin pumps reduce the likelihood of serious medical complications which can include kidney failure, blindness and amputation. These complications are not only devastating to individuals and their families, they are also incredibly expensive for our health care system. Funding insulin pumps is a cost effective policy that would increase accessibility of treatment and quality of life for thousands of British Columbians. I look forward to the minister’s response.

Below I reproduce the text of my letter and I will share the response when it is forthcoming.


Text of the Letter


January 29, 2017

Honourable Terry Lake
Minister of Health
PO Box 9050 Prov. Govt.
Victoria BC
V8W 9E2

Dear Minister Lake,

I’m writing to ask that you extend BC Pharmacare coverage of insulin pumps to all British Columbians with Type 1 diabetes.

This technology can be life altering for those who deal with diabetes. I’ve heard stories from a number of constituents, all of whom outlined just how significantly their quality of life improved due to the technology. They were not only afforded greater freedom and a peace of mind, they also attribute a number of important health benefits to the devices.

This belief is backed up by a compelling amount of scientific literature. Insulin pumps have a demonstrable correlation with greater metabolic control for people with Type 1 diabetes. This greater metabolic control lowers the chance of serious complication occurring, including blindness, amputation, heart disease and kidney failure. I recognize that the pump is not the appropriate treatment for everyone but it is an important tool to have available for patients and doctors as they work to manage the disease.

Despite the significant benefits which can be derived from the devices, the financial hurdle is simply too high for many. An insulin pump which typically lasts four to five years can cost an average $7000. This is simply too high a price for many to pay. I’ve heard stories of people forced to choose between obtaining the medical treatment they need to manage paying for food or rent.

I recognize the difficult decisions which need to be made in prioritizing drugs for the Pharmacare budget but this therapy has the potential to reduce long term health care costs. As stated earlier, the better insulin management afforded by pumps reduce the chance of associated complications. The loss of sight, of a limb, or of kidney function can have devastating effects on an individual and their family. They are also incredibly costly to our health care system. Studies have indicated that the introduction of an insulin pump program could mean net savings for the health care system, when the decrease in complications is taken into account.

Alberta, Ontario, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories have already made the decision to cover Insulin Pumps for all residents with Type 1 diabetes. In both provinces, government funding supplemented the coverage already provided by private medical insurance, a move which reduced the cost of the program.

Insulin pumps not only an effective tool for patients manage a very dangerous disease, they’re also a preventative and cost effective measure our health care system could implement. This is a forward thinking policy which could lead to better treatment of diabetes for thousands of British Columbians.

In 2014, your ministry made the decision to provide insulin pumps to residents who needed them and were under the age of 25. This was move which gave a great number of people the tools they needed to manage their disease. I urge you to eliminate the age requirement for coverage, and make these benefits accessible for British Columbians of all ages.

Sincerely,

Andrew Weaver
MLA, Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Introducing a petition to ban inhumane cage confinement in the egg industry

Today in the legislature I introduced Ned Taylor (photographed to the right with my colleague Vicki Huntington) who started a petition to ban battery cages in British Columbia. Ned Taylor was joined by his father Matt Taylor and by a friend Jordan Reichhart. I subsequently tabled his petition in the legislature.

As I mentioned in my introduction, there is only one step of separation in Victoria! Ned’s sister and my daughter went to elementary school together and his father’s sister and I both graduated from Oak Bay Secondary School in 1979!

Below I reproduce the text and video of both the guest and petition introductions.


Video of Guest Introduction



Text of Guest Introduction


A. Weaver: It gives me great pleasure to introduce three guests today, two of whom are constituents. The first is Ned Taylor — he’s a Reynold’s Secondary School student and the author of a petition I’ll be introducing momentarily — along with father, Matt Taylor, and his friend Jordan Reichhart.

I might say for those of you who are from Victoria, you will know there is no such thing of two steps of separation from people. There is only one. It turns out Ned’s sister was in grade one and kindergarten with my daughter and that his father’s sister went to high school with me and graduated in 1979 from Oak Bay.

Would the House please make them feel very welcome.


Video of Petition Introduction



Text of Petition Introduction


A. Weaver: I’m very pleased to stand to present a petition against the use of inhumane cage confinement in the egg industry. This petition, which has over 33,000 signatures, was started and organized by Ned Taylor, a constituent who’s attending grade 12 at Reynolds Secondary School in Victoria. In Ned Taylor’s words, this petition stands firmly against battery cages, enriched cages and all other cages in the egg industry because chickens deserve to roam freely for their health and well-being. Battery cages are cages used in our egg industry that confine egg-laying hens for their entire lives. In these cages the hens have no space to move or spread their wings, nor do they have a place to perch.


Reintroducing a Bill to Lower the Voting Age to 16 in British Columbia

Today in the legislature I reintroduced a bill that if enacted would lower the voter age in British Columbia from 18 to 16. The new name of the bill is Bill M220 — Election Amendment 1, 2017.

Those who have been following this site will know that last year, I initiated a conversation on whether or not we should reduce the voting age to 16. The response on social media was wonderful and we received many emails on the topic.

It turns out that this conversation is not only happening now in BC. Prince Edward Island held a referendum in the fall on electoral reform. The eligibility to vote will be extended to youth aged 16 and 17 in this referendum.

Below please find reproductions of both the text and video of the introduction of my bill. In addition, I reproduce the accompanying press release.


Text of Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Election Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: In this bill I’m introducing today, I would propose lowering the voting age to 16 in the province of British Columbia. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the earlier in life a voter casts their first ballot, the more likely they are to develop voting as a habit throughout their life.

It’s also a common misconception that 16-year-olds are not as informed on and engaged in political issues as older voters. The research, however, says otherwise. These young citizens of British Columbia are old enough to drive, pay taxes and sign up for the military. In fact, the notion of taxation without representation is one that is not founded within our democracy. We require representation with taxation. Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and parts of the U.K. have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds, and it’s time British Columbia do the same.

I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Madame Speaker: Hon. Member, was that No. 1 or No. 2?

A. Weaver: That was No. 1. I’m sorry. Thank you, hon. Speaker.

Madame Speaker: No worries.

Bill M220, Election Amendment Act 1, 2017, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

 


Video of Introduction



Media Release


Andrew Weaver introduces bill to lower the voting age in B.C.
For immediate release
February 20, 2017

VICTORIA B.C. – Today Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, re-introduced the Election Amendment Act 1, which seeks to engage youth in politics through lowering the voting age to 16.

“There is a lot of evidence that shows that if we engage our youth earlier in the political process they are more likely to develop voting as a habit for the rest of their life,” says Weaver, also the Leader of the B.C. Green Party.

“I’ve been speaking to individuals of all ages since I introduced this bill last Spring. I have heard overwhelming support for lowering the voting age.

“The decisions we make today as legislators will have a profound impact on the lives of our youth. I can’t think of a good reason why they shouldn’t have a stake in those decisions.

“It appears there is a trickle-up effect in civic participation. When youth engage, conversations around the dinner table tend to focus on politics and local issues, which results in a positive impact on voter turnout for the whole family.”

Many other jurisdictions, including Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and parts of the UK, have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds. Scotland experimented by lowering the voting age in their independence referendum. It was so successful that they subsequently permanently dropped the voting age to 16 in all Scottish Parliament and local government elections.

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Media Contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca