North Island MLA Claire Trevena will take on a key critic’s role in the NDP’s shadow cabinet.
New party leader Adrian Dix appointed Trevena as critic of the Ministry of Children and Family Development on Tuesday.
“It’s a real honour to have the appointment but it will be challenging too,” said Trevena. “The ministry has undergone massive changes with the present government and my role will be to make sure people are least impacted by them.
“This ministry has seen a lot of failings and I will challenge them on that.”
The ministry deals with the most vulnerable British Columbians and provides programs and services to ensure children are healthy and living in a safe environment.
But Trevena said the government has yet to develop a service plan for children in the province, something that is relevant to so many British Columbians. She said as MLA for the North Island, this is the ministry she has received the most calls about from constituents.
“It’s one of the ministries I’m constantly getting calls about across the North Island,” said Trevena. “Generally, people struggle when dealing with the ministry.”
Trevena is no stranger to the portfolio. She was critic of child care, early childhood development and women’s issues under former NDP leader Carole James. She said she’s already familiar with the issues.
Two months ago she called on the Minister of Children and Family Development, Mary McNeil, to take immediate action to address the lengthy wait list for North Island families seeking help for mental health issues.
Trevena discovered a list of as many as 50 children waiting for assessment through Child and Youth Mental Health services in Campbell River.
“It is disgraceful that so many children and young people are on the wait list for help. Imagine if there were 50 children with what’s perceived as traditional health needs – if they were not being diagnosed with mumps or meningitis, there would be outrage,” said Trevena, who will be raising the matter during the spring session of the legislature which began Tuesday.
Trevena, who held the position of assistant deputy speaker of the house since the 2009 election and previously acted as opposition critic for Employment and Income Assistance, said although she is pleased with her new role, it came unexpectedly.
“I didn’t know it was coming,” said Trevena. “The new leader talked about keeping people in the same positions, so it was a surprise. It’s a huge responsibility and as part of this team, I have to show the government is failing people here.”
Trevena has served as MLA for the North Island since 2005.