Both South Surrey and White Rock MLAs have been handed a critic position with the BC Liberals.
In addition to be named Liberal caucus chair, re-elected Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux has been named the Gender Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion critic, while first-term Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford has been named the Mental Health and Addictions critic.
Speaking to Peace Arch News Monday, the day of the announcement, Halford said his new role comes with a “huge responsibility.”
“There’s obviously two health crises that are going on and you know, unfortunately, this can sometimes be the forgotten one,” Halford said, referring to 1,386 people who have died of drug overdose this year in B.C.
“It’s not forgotten for the family and friends that have lost somebody to this crisis… We need to make it an absolute top priority.”
Asked if there was something specific in the portfolio he wanted to focus on, Halford said, prior to the election, the Mental Health and Addictions Ministry had a budget smaller than that of the Office of the Premier.
“I’m going to be very focused on how we’re going to be dedicating resources to this crisis.”
He said he’s also looking for a partnership with government and stakeholders to remove stigma associated with mental health and drug use.
“This is affecting every family. It doesn’t matter what your income level is. It doesn’t matter what part of the province you’re in. These are professionals that are dying. These are young people that are dying. They’re dads, brothers, they’re sisters and they’re moms.
“I think that we have to all work together to remove that stigma to make sure that people understand that this is a crisis that’s touching every family right now.”
Shortly after the critic roles were announced, Cadieux commented on Twitter that she was “energized to keep up my advocacy for disabilities issues.
“And unwavering in my commitment to push for Equal Pay legislation (because) it isn’t ‘a political stunt.’”
The later part of her tweet came in reference to comments made by Premier John Horgan in March 2019.
After Cadieux introduced the Equal Pay Reporting Act, which would have required businesses with more than 50 employees to publish differences in pay and bonuses that their male and female employees receive, Horgan raised the possibility of the bill as a political stunt.
Peace Arch News reached out to Cadieux Monday afternoon, but did not immediately receive a response to a request for comment.