By Bob Simpson
This week I brought my Victoria staff up for a tour of the Cariboo and a planning session for the coming year. As a “caucus” MLA I didn’t have a direct budget for staffing; an amount was allocated to the NDP caucus budget and I was assigned some staff resources out of a common pool.
Now, as an Independent MLA, I have an annual budget which enables me to have staff in Victoria and hire contractors to work on specific files or issues as they arise. My local constituency budget and staffing remains the same as it was before I became an Independent.
That means I have four full-time staff to serve you and raise your issues in Victoria. In my constituency office I have a person who primarily focuses on individual case work. We assist people with anything that involves provincial regulations and services: income assistance rates, rental disputes, road services, seniors care issues, health-care concerns, education funding, and the list goes on.
The second person in my community office works primarily on broader issues (such as placer mining, agriculture, affordable housing, meat regulations, etc.) and focuses on community priorities, especially the smaller communities in the Cariboo North riding.
I’m thrilled that I’ve now added to these local resources a full-time researcher and policy analyst in Victoria who will help us to do comprehensive background research into our issues, suggest policy solutions I can take to ministers, and help me draft new legislation when necessary. I can introduce this legislation as a Private Members Bill when the House is in session. My other staff resource in Victoria helps us gain access to ministers’ offices to fast track work on individual case files and policy issues. This person will also assist me to raise our issues in the legislature and throughout the province.
This week I and my staff were able to visit most of the communities in Cariboo North and hear directly from people what their hopes and challenges are — we’re now well equipped to work together to be your independent voice in Victoria.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.