Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross addresses poverty issues as part of Legislature debate

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross provided much to think on when it comes
to issues of poverty during a Monday discussion in the Legislature

Ellis Ross continued to put a focus on some important issues for the Northwest at the British Columbia Legislature on Monday, with the Skeena MLA taking part in an ongoing discussion among MLA's that is focused on the topic of poverty in British Columbia during the morning session of the House.

Mr. Ross retraced some of the economic history of the Terrace-Kitimat and area and called on his own personal history in his presentation in the Legislature, using his experiences to offer some sense of the frustration that is found by many when it comes to the cycle that ranges from hope to despair many can be caught in.

Thank you to the member for Surrey-Fleetwood for raising the topic of poverty reduction. Being a First Nations member and representing a riding with many small communities in the north, poverty is a topic that I am well acquainted with and experienced firsthand throughout my life ...

Being raised by stern parents — who went to residential school, by the way — who also believed in hard work with no excuses, I was like most breadwinners are: beyond sad when I had to utilize the welfare system. As a young man with a young family, I was stuck in a cycle of earn some decent money until the job ends, begin an anxious waiting period for employment insurance and, when employment insurance runs out, apply for welfare until another job comes around. 

That was a horrible situation to be in, and I don't want any British Columbians to experience that, if I can help it. Because they were not good times. I was extremely angry and borderline depressed at the same time.

On themes of Poverty Mr. Ross made a number of other observations for the members of the Legislature to make note of as part of the days discussion on the topic:

Poverty is a simple word that doesn't explain all the social problems that become a lifestyle and, in some cases, become a culture, passed on to the next generation. I've lived it and tried to eradicate it in my term on Haisla Nation Council. In fact, it's why I advocate for responsible development in the first place. In my own experience as a leader, I was tremendously proud of the work our council did to engage with government and industry and also to see the results showing in our people. 

Because I've heard average people, back then and now, talk about their shift work, their holidays or the new truck they just bought. Unfortunately, for the last few months, I've been hearing about how people in my riding have to leave to Manitoba, to the Yukon and other areas of Canada to sustain the lifestyle they just previously found. 

I hope we can re-continue this progress for able-bodied people to get out and stay out of poverty. Because poverty should be addressed for all walks of life — both the collective and the individual — especially here in Canada, a land of freedom. 

But, when you're in poverty, you don't have the freedom to choose a holiday, to purchase a car or buy a house, not while you're in poverty.

He also tied the quest to address poverty issues in the province with a desire to see an expansion of economic opportunities in British Columbia and how the creation of job opportunities will work towards eliminating poverty.

The fact is, you just can't legislate poverty. If it was simple as that, as simple as passing a law, any government would have done that a long time ago. The best way to reduce poverty is give somebody an opportunity. And for that, you have to support economic development — like Site C, like LNG and, yes, like fish farms. 

So with that Honourable Speaker, I'd like to thank the member for Vancouver-Lonsdale for the topic of poverty reduction and hope that that this House can work to eliminate, not reduce, poverty here in British Columbia.

The exchange of thoughts and commentary on social and economic issues has become part of a growing narrative during the MLA's time in the Legislature as he represents Skeena, with Mr. Ross providing for a number of thoughtful observations for members of all parties to consider as this new session moves forward.

Since taking his seat in the Legislature this fall, Mr. Ross has proven to be a strong advocate for not only his own riding and the residents of it, but by extension, many of his commentaries and observations have resonance for much of the Northwest area of the province.

The full overview of his commentary from Monday can be found from the Legislature's video archive for Monday morning Chamber session starting at just after the 10:30 AM minute mark.

The full transcript of Monday's oratory can also be found here.

Those living in the Skeena riding can review some of the past themes from Mr. Ross from our archive page here.

For residents of the North Coast riding, our overview of notes related to the Legislature can be examined here.

More background on developments from the political scene out of Victoria can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

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