Provincial Liberal members are being asked for their thoughts on what the new Clark administration's Family First agenda should look like. But representatives from two key children's advocacy groups say they have yet to be asked for their opinions. In an email sent yesterday to fellow Liberals in her constituency, North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite wrote she would "like to hear what 'Families First' means to you" before the cabinet committee responsible for that initiative meets. But First Call provincial coordinator Adrienne Montani said her coalition hasn't been extended a similar offer from the government. And neither has the British Columbia Association of Social Workers, according to its executive director Linda Korbin.
In a response, a Clark administration spokesperson said Ms. Thornthwaite - a member of the Families First cabinet committee - sent the email on her own initiative rather than as part of a government-led consultation effort. The spokesperson said it was likely the government would be speaking with stakeholders, as well as the public, about Families First in the future. The following is a complete copy of Ms. Thornthwaite's email.
From: North Vancouver Seymour
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 8:08 PM
Subject: A Message from MLA Jane Thornthwaite
Dear North Van - Seymour BC Liberal,
I am excited to have been appointed by Premier Christy Clark to the Cabinet's new "Families First" Committee. The creation of this Committee is a result of our new Premier's leadership campaign commitment to ensure that the impact on BC families of every cabinet decision is given careful consideration. Before our first Committee meeting, I'd like to hear what "Families First" means to you. I request your input, so please contact me by email or phone to offer your ideas.
Premier Clark has also asked me to advise her on what can be done by the provincial government to encourage our children and young people to lead healthier lives. How can we promote more active lifestyles? How can we ensure they adopt healthier diets? These are important questions for the future of our province. I have many ideas of my own based on my work experience of 22 years as a Registered Dietitian and mother (of three). But I will value your ideas, too. Do we need to modify the school curriculum? Is it a matter of more community planning for accessible options, such as bike routes? How about tax credits to encourage fitness? What do you think?
If there are other issues you want me to bring to the attention of the new Premier and Cabinet, please let me know. Issues I have heard about from other constituents that you may wish to comment on include:
Transportation: Highway No. 1 reconfiguration at Fern Street/Exit 22. An upgraded Phibbs Exchange. Improved bus service.
Health: The proposed Mental Health & Addiction Centre at LGH. Ambulance and East of Seymour first responder issues.
Education: School closures. Selling of surplus school lands.
Over the next few months, I plan to host events with Premier Christy Clark, Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Kevin Falcon, and Education Minister George Abbott. We'll let you know the details when we have scheduled these events.
In the meantime, if you would like to get involved with these events or other activities in our riding, please give me a call. There is always a lot to do to keep our province on the right track, and you can play an important part.
Jane Thornthwaite, MLA