I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to New Year’s Eve and the year that will follow. I am encouraged by all the progress we’ve made and am optimistic about 2012.
Looking back on 2011 there is much we can be proud of, especially in northern and rural British Columbia. A few of the highlights include $2.3 million to help expand broadband internet to more than 60 rural communities across B.C. Having access to the Internet is something many people take for granted, but imagine how helpful a tool it will be to so many.
There was also the $2.5 million funding announcement to help support 10 new skills training programs in Northern B.C. — eligible British Columbians are provided with tuition-free, group-based training at public, post-secondary institutions to prepare them for entry or re-entry into the labour force.
“Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan” was also a big part of 2011 and in the north we saw the National Energy Board approve a 20-year export licence for the Kitimat Liquid Natural Gas facility — the first license of its kind in Canada, creating long-term jobs and business opportunities for northern communities. Another great announcement was the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, which will revitalize the forest industry and support generations of jobs for local and rural economies.
All these northern programs and projects coupled with reforming the Family Law to put the child’s interest at the centre of any dispute resolution; continuing to build relationships and growing trade opportunities with China and India; supporting a successful Seaspan bid for a three-decade shipbuilding contract; and adding more than $340 million for new schools all across the province, have made 2011 a great year.
So Merry Christmas to everyone, from my family to yours. I hope this holiday season brings great times with loved ones and good friends. I look forward to 2012 and continuing to build on the successes of the past year.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.