VICTORIA: I know families in B.C. are facing increased costs these days, at the gas pumps and in other aspects of their daily lives. This is absolutely a challenging time and as New Democrats, we are committed to making life more affordable for people in B.C.

The recent increase in prices at the pump are the result of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and the conflict is impacting the price of oil around the world. As we recover from the pandemic and economies continue to re-open, demand on gas supply is increasing across North America.

We are seeing record high gas prices across Canada, including here in British Columbia. That is why our government is working hard to alleviate costs for drivers and put money back into the pockets of everyday people – saving money on child care, tolls, MSP and more.

This week, new BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon took his seat in the Legislature. His words may suggest that he is thinking about everyday people struggling with affordability, but his past actions tell us otherwise.

As a BC Liberal cabinet minister, Kevin Falcon gave big tax breaks for the top one per cent, while increasing fees for everyone else. To pay for these tax breaks, he increased basic car insurance by 11%, skyrocketing ICBC rates for drivers. Our government has lowered costs of ICBC car insurance by an average of 20%, saving drivers an average of $500 every year. When we reduce costs for people, families can put that amount towards things like groceries and kids’ activities.

When he was Transportation Minister, Kevin Falcon put tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges, costing families up to $1,500 a year just to get to work, take kids to school, or expand their small business. While he continues to stand by this decision, our government has removed these tolls for good, and is continuing to invest in transit and infrastructure projects that will improve commute times so we can all spend more time at home with our loved ones, and less time stuck in traffic.

On top of reducing car insurance rates by an average of $500 a year, our government recently announced ICBC Relief Rebates of $110. These cheques are currently being delivered to people across B.C. to help offset the costs of rising gas prices. While Kevin Falcon and his friends called these “stupid little cheques,” I know that they will help families across the province to make ends meet.

As we welcomed Kevin Falcon to the Legislature this week as the MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena, I’m reminded of the reasons why we’re all here. When Kevin Falcon said “this is the best job they’ll ever have” when referencing our BC New Democrat MLAs, perhaps he was right.

While our government is committed to making life better and more affordable for all British Columbians, we know that Kevin Falcon and the same old BC Liberals are here to protect the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of people like you and me – teachers, nurses, millwrights, small business owners, and farmers.