Saying the media does not always accurately present the facts related to provincial issues, Michelle Stilwell listed some of what she said were her government’s recent achievements when she spoke to a Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce crowd last week.
The Parksville-Qualicum MLA and Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation borrowed from Premier Christy Clark’s speeches of late, suggesting that by saying yes to big projects like the Site C damn, the Port Mann Bridge and liquid natural gas, the B.C. Liberals are setting the province up for future financial success and the ability to put more money into social programs.
Stilwell trumpeted a recent announcement increasing financial assistance for people with disabilities, a story that became more about bus passes than about the increases.
“The bus passes have not been cancelled,” said Stilwell, who then spoke about the monthly increases. “People with disabilities are not as ahead as they’d like to be and not ahead as I’d like them to be.”
She said saying yes to big projects like the ones mentioned above will eventually result in the provincial government being able to “give persons with disabilities a bigger raise.”
Stilwell made no mention of specifics related to Parksville-Qualicum Beach. She did point to what she said was the success of a single parent employment initiative, a $25 million investment by the government that has seen 2,500 people enrol in the first five months.
The program allows single parents to continue to collect social assistance while they upgrade education and training. The program pays for the education/training, daycare and transportation while the single parent works toward re-joining the workforce.
“That’s how we are helping people lift themselves out of poverty,” she said.
Stilwell, like the premier has recently, took aim at the rival NDP by pointing at the financial situation in Alberta. “Things are not as good anymore since they elected an NDP government,” she said.
Stilwell, who has won multiple Paralympic gold medals and holds world records in wheelchair track events, noted last week it was only “140 days to Rio,” a reference to the Paralympic Games that will follow the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer. She has yet to be officially named to Canada’s team, but has signalled her intentions to compete in events in the next couple of months that could work toward that goal.
“It’s been a struggle to maintain my training schedule,” she said.