Mungall Working for Constituents and BC’S Vulnerable

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Liberals back down on plans to cut funding from programs for survivors of domestic violence.

Programs that help survivors of violence were faced with the threat of having to reduce or even eliminate services. Funding for community services, to the tune of $440,000, was in the roster of recent cuts being made by the Provincial Government.

Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson Creston and Chair of the NDP Opposition Women’s Caucus along with NDP colleagues, community groups and city councillors, put the pressure on the Liberals to back down. Budgets will remain the same for the upcoming fiscal year. However, 1.2 million is still slated to be chopped for next year.

Mungall said that it is great to see that the funding will remain in place for the rest of this year, but she is worried that the Liberals approach to the budget is disorganized at best. “They’ve placed a band-aid on the cuts to services for victims of domestic violence. It is really going to hurt if they pull it off next year. That is why we must keep standing up for these important services. ”

Dina Bambrick of Kootenai Community Centre in Creston was very pleased to hear the good news. “It’s gratifying that politicians like Michelle really understand the dynamics of this work and how important it is,” she said. “They are willing to champion our cause and express how vital these services are. They spoke out and the Government heard!”

Salmo Community Services, while already delivering services on a thin budget will see no changes to the number of service hours per month that they are able to deliver. Citizens in Kaslo will not have to lose the support provided by North Kootenay Lake Community Services, but both of these centres will be facing severe limitations should next year’s budget come short again.

Lena Horswill of Nelson Community Services Centre says that it has taken years to build up their programs and they just cannot afford to backtrack and loose those services. “Cutting funding doesn’t make sense in the long run. Funding should be increased, not decreased”.

Michelle Mungall and the New Democrats will continue to hold the BC Liberals accountable for breaking their election promises to protect this province’s vital services.

 


Here’s Michael Smyth’s take in The Province on October 1.
 

Liberal backdowns just keep coming
Heed rushes to restore funds for battered women and kids

Sometimes it’s not a bad thing for a rookie Opposition critic to get publicly upstaged by the government. Just ask Michelle Mungall.

Mungall, the first-term NDP MLA from Nelson, was just about to hammer the Liberals’ cuts to domestic-violence programs this week when Solicitor-General Kash Heed stole her thunder.

Literally minutes before Mungall was to speak at a Tuesday news conference, Heed’s office dropped a press release saying the government was backing away from the $440,000 cut to programs for family-violence victims — mainly battered, abused and fearful women and children.

Heed, of course, insisted the timing of his flip-flop was coincidental.

He also said it had nothing to do with a scathing report from the province’s independent watchdog for kids and families just a few days earlier that criticized the government after 70 domestic-violence-related murders in just five years.

The decision to restore the funding, Heed said, came after the government realized the cut was going to hurt front-line services to victims. He also said his own pre-politics career as a police officer gave him first-hand knowledge of how important the services are.

Which makes you wonder why the government cut them in the first place. Don’t they analyze the impact of their cuts before they make them?
Cutting first and asking questions later might be part of the equation. But I suspect the more critical decision-making calculus here is how much political damage the Liberals absorb from their critics and the media.

If Mungall and children’s commissioner Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond hadn’t raised hell — and if the media hadn’t paid attention — I doubt these nameless victims of violence would have seen their funding restored.

This is becoming a pattern from the Liberals. Consider these other politically-driven climb-downs:

– Hot-lunch program for poor school children: The government announced the grant for this program was being cut by $2 million. Many negative headlines later, the education ministry announced it was topping the budget up.

– Outreach van for sex-trade workers: The van patrols the streets of Metro Vancouver to assist and protect prostitutes. Cut by the Liberals in June, the agency that runs the service staged a summer-long media campaign and funding was restored in August.

– Three-year gaming grants: Cancelled after the government suggested its own letters to community groups confirming the grants were not legally binding contracts. Reversed after a question-period shellacking.

– Summer-camp subsidy for poor and disabled kids: Restored after a public outcry.

Get set for more of these as the Liberals’ summer of cutbacks turns into a fall of discontent. As the weather gets colder, the government is still wearing the flip-flops.