Spring is finally here! I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather and spending time with friends and family doing what you love most. There are so many dynamic communities in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. I hope those of you with school aged children had some well deserved time to take it easy over Spring Break.
This March, as your MLA and the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training I was busy supporting Budget 2019 at the B.C. Legislature. I also had the privilege to be a part of so many important community events and life changing government announcements.
After years of advocacy, I am proud that the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre is finally operating its renovated shelter 24/7. Equally essential, Strathcona is now home to new supportive modular housing, named after a progressive community advocate, Nora Hendrix. Starting February 19th 2019, B.C. student loans are now interest free!
Over the next month, I look forward to seeing you throughout our community. Please continue to reach out to my team with local events and requests for advocacy and feel free to visit our constituency office to get a copy of Budget 2019 highlights and B.C.'s first poverty reduction strategy TogetherBC.
This week, our office sent the following letter to parents that have reached out to our office with their concerns around the draft Long Range Faculties Plan released by the VSB.
"On February 22, the Vancouver School Board released the draft Long-Term Facilities Plan (LRFP). With the release of the LRFP, I have heard from families that are anxious, stressed, and worried about a lack of consultation.
As your MLA, a member of Cabinet, and as a parent myself, I want to be clear: our government is committed to strengthening K-12 education and investing in our schools. We are not interested in closing schools. In just 18 months we have made a $230 million capital investment in Vancouver schools, the largest investment in education in decades. We are speeding up investments to get more students into safe schools faster – and there are more projects to come.
I have heard concerns that the Vancouver School Board has not provided sufficient opportunities for feedback. The voices of parents need to be heard. It is imperative that the Vancouver School Board consult extensively with parents and our community. We have verbally expressed our concerns about the lack of consultation to VSB staff. It is my recommendation that parents reach out to the chair of the Vancouver School Board, Janet Fraser, to request more meaningful consultation. The chair can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604-362-1826.
It is my view that the VSB needs to hear directly from parent’s perspectives on all the ways your child’s school is important: the vulnerable students it supports, the unique programs it provides, and how our neighbourhoods are stronger with a vibrant school community. I encourage you to attend the public feedback session at Vancouver Technical Secondary School (2600 E Broadway) on Tuesday April 16th at 6pm where you can provide feedback. If you are unable to attend, you can email your comments to LRFP@vsb.bc.ca.
My MLA colleagues and I will keep working with the School Board to continue investing in schools in our community. On Friday April 12th, we will be meeting with the Vancouver School Board where I will have the opportunity to continue to advocate for our vibrant East Vancouver schools."
Thank you Binners Project for having me speak at your meeting! It was a lot of fun to meet the staff and volunteers working to help our environment and lift people up. I had a great time exchanging stories and a few laughs! Keep shining!
Thank you Principal Watkins of Admiral Seymour Elementary, Principal Tricia Rooney (not pictured) and Grade 5 teacher Mr. Fawley of Britannia Elementary for taking the time out of your busy schedule to introduce me to students! I was inspired by the inquisitive Grade 5 students from Britannia Elementary who had written to me as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. I'm so proud of our East Side families and educators!
Hundreds gathered to witness the grand opening of Nora Hendrix Place in Strathcona. The building, aptly named after Hogan Alley's late Nora Hendrix, brought together movers and shakers Dr. June Francis, Albert St. Albert Smith, Lama Mugabo, Vanessa Richards and so many respected Hogan's Alley community members and allies. Eagles also circled above to celebrate this important event.
Since 2005, women in the DTES have been advocating for a low barrier 24/7 women’s shelter. On International Women's Day 2019, the doors were finally opened. The B.C. government, through BC Housing, partnered with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) to transform its emergency night shelter to a 24-hour operation and provided $1.5 million for renovations.
Since I became the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in July 2017, I have heard from hundreds of students who told me how difficult it was for them to enter the workforce while saddled with enormous student debt. Premier John Horgan and I believe that education is the great equalizer. Our government has been taking measures to make post secondary training more accessible and affordable. In Budget 2019 our government made true on our promise to eliminate interest on B.C. student loans.
I had the honour of celebrating International Women's Day with fierce trail blazers who are unapologetic in their efforts to move the dial forward on children's, women's, Indigenous and community rights. These tenacious leaders are committed to lifting as they climb. Together we are rejecting the status quo, fighting for change & paddling together!
As the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, I am responsible for the Industry Training Authority who has the mandate for the trades training system across the province. On International Women's Day, Shelley Gray became the first woman to be appointed as the CEO of the Industry Training Authority,ITA BC. Today women represent 5 per cent of women in the construction trades. This number doesn't reflect my values. We can and must do better to ensure more women are recruited and supported in the trades!
To learn more about the ITA and women in trades click here!
Our government launches first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC
After 16 years of advocacy, B.C. finally has a poverty reduction strategy. TogetherBC outlines programs and initiatives that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25% and cut child poverty in half over the next 5 years.The strategy aims to lift 140,000 people out of poverty, including 50,000 children.To learn more visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019SDPR0009-000421
Above is a video of Minister Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver-Hastings recalling his upbringing in the Ray-Mur Housing Projects and talking about how TogetherBC aims to break the cycle of poverty.
Improving residential care in Vancouver Coastal Health
Seniors in the Vancouver Coastal Health region are benefiting from an investment of over $9.1-million in 2018-19 to increase staffing levels and ensure quality care.
Generally, individuals and most business owners must file their income tax returns by Tuesday, April 30. For this BCIT Accounting Association's Free Tax Clinic, you will need to bring your ID, Social Insurance Number, Tax Papers and an USB. Please click here to register in advance.
Britannia Community Centre's Income Tax Clinic
Call to book a Saturday or Sunday appointment! 1661 Napier St, Vancouver
Phone: (604) 718-5800
Income tax help for seniors and low income residents is now available by appointment until April 29. Call 604-718-5800 or visit the Info Centre to sign up. You can find out if you are eligible for other free tax clinics and can locate clinics here.
Community Programs & Events
If you were born between 1970 and 1995, you may need a measles booster. Find out where you can get yours at: https://immunizebc.ca/finder
Elders Book Club - Indigenous Reads
Thurs, Apr 11, 2pm – 3:30pm
1661 Napier St. (Britannia Branch VPL)
Interested in reading Indigenous stories by Indigenous authors? Join VPL on the second Thursday of the month for Elders Book Club, where the group discusses compelling Indigenous literature with like-minded readers.
UBC CampOUT! is a social justice summer camp for queer, trans, Two-Spirit, and allied youth from British Columbia and the Yukon! Their 10th Annual CampOUT! will take place on Gambier Island from July 4-7! You can sign up for their Newsletter or visit their website to see if spaces are still available: https://campout.ubc.ca/
For children between the ages 7-14, Potlatch’s week-long Main Camp gives campers the opportunity to explore a variety of traditional camp activities while living in a positive and supportive cabin community. All activities are fun, age appropriate, and closely supervised by enthusiastic and highly trained staff. In addition to a wide variety of camp activities, each camper in the Main Camp program participates in a 24 hour off-site excursion. Registration is open from March 4 - August 24. For more information visit: https://www.bgcbc.ca/camp-potlatch/
City of Vancouver Recreation Summer Camps and Activities
The City of Vancouver offers a variety of summer day camps and activities for all age groups! Whether you are looking for opportunities for leadership, making new friends, learning how to paint or unleash your hidden talents in digital film making or African drum making, there are hundreds of pathways waiting for you! Registration dates vary, so enrol early! Click here: https://ca.apm.activecommunities.com/vancouver/Activity_Search
Hon. Melanie Mark, MLA Vancouver-Mount Pleasant
1070-1641 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y4