Our MLA Adam Olsen was an early enthusiastic supporter of ASK Salt Spring, Neighbours Helping Neighbours Find Answers. And, that enthusiasm has continued with his commitment to come to ASK Salt Spring the first Friday every month. While these gatherings at Thrifty’s have been temporarily postponed, Adam continues to offer us many answers.
Concerning Our Current Crisis:
The message is simple and clear: Other than essential business, 100% of British Columbians should stay home 100% of the time. If you must go out, maintain physical distance from everyone and. make sure you wash your hands thoroughly and often.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on every aspect of our society. That freedom and liberty that we so cherish have been dramatically restricted. We are forced to recognize the fragility of the systems that we have created.
My heart goes out to our frontline medical workers who face incredible challenges each day, including being forced to make heartbreaking decisions about who receives medical attention and limited supplies.
I am especially concerned about our elders - the knowledge-holders who give our community its experience and wisdom needed to maintain a resilient society. It is they who are among the most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak as they are more likely to have compromised immune systems and existing respiratory issues.
I am also deeply concerned about our local businesses. What would our villages be like without our local shops and restaurants? In addition to the desperate calls for help from our local businesses, local government officials remind us that our services rely on the property taxes these local businesses provide. So, the challenges are compounding.
The programs to assist small businesses announced by the federal and provincial governments to date are not enough. I will continue to advocate for stronger programs to support small businesses during this unprecedented time. (For employment insurance inquires please call Service Canada at 1-833-381-2725.)
When this crisis has passed, we must commit to our community by shopping local. Only by prioritizing a strong local economy will we create the resilient communities we need.
Despite the tragedies around us, it is deeply heartwarming to wonderful acts of kindness, compassion and love.I am also heartened by the massive commitment throughout our communities to limit the spread of this awful disease by self-isolating. Our actions are profound.
During previous ASK Salt Spring sessions, Adam also offered other valuable insights:
Three members of our liveaboard community came to ASK Salt Spring, to express their concerns to Adam about eviction threats. Some had been told that their vessels could be taken from them in the very near future. They predicted that this threat could seriously challenge the entire liveaboard community, estimated at approximately 60 in Ganges Harbour alone.
Adam had two suggestions:
- They should learn and understand the regulations and then work hard to comply with them. When they are not in compliance, they are vulnerable.
- They should unite as a community and speak with a single voice.
The following week, Adam came back to Salt Spring for a community meeting at the Legion. The room was filled with liveaboards - 23 had come to listen, learn, and express their concerns, the beginnings of a cohesive community already emerging. Adam agreed that regulations were complicated as a number of different agencies share jurisdiction. He promised to get all the players together to meet with our liveaboard community to seek solutions, something he did just slightly more than a month later.
Did you know that ICBC, a Crown Corporation, was threatened with privatization during the Liberal years and is now suffering under a heavy debt as well as challenged by aging vehicle and licensing database technology? One big change, strongly supported by Adam, is that a claimant can now receive far more without having to hire lawyers. Participants agreed with Adam when he said that, before ICBC can become healthy again, it must gain back our trust.
Adam spoke at length and with passion about the challenges and promises of reconciliation. When asked why hereditary and band chiefs could not agree, he launched into an amazing lesson for all of us. We learned that it was entirely predictable that the generations-old hereditary band structure would not always be in agreement with the Federally-created band chief system. Why, when British Columbians cannot agree, would we expect widely-different indigenous peoples to agree?