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Lia Versaevel, Green Party.

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Poverty, Panaceas & Platitudes Aplenty.

As an active community member, Lia has much to offer as Nanaimo-North-Cowichan’s Green Candidate. Lia declares, “Education, health care and protection of our most vulnerable citizens will be my priorities as your next MLA, through a sustainable economy, respecting diversity.” Her core values are: vibrant economic growth, First Nations reconciliation, ecological stewardship, and restoring our education system (pre-school through post-secondary). Furthermore, Lia seeks to improve care for seniors, the disabled, and children in care. After 27 years with the Attorney General’s Ministry as a Correctional Officer, Peace Officer, Probation Officer and Family Justice Counselor, Lia moved with her family to Nevada in 2004 to continue to work in family mediation and later as a teacher and in security work. She returned to Vancouver Island in 2013. As the owner of a B.C. incorporated business (1992), “Accord”, Lia continues to offer her professional experience in conflict resolution, while serving as President of Family Mediation Canada. She has advocated for system change since she first initiated a residential treatment center for adolescents, in 1982, in Surrey. Her frustration with seeing young children in custody led her to establish Fleetwood Glen in Surrey through the Guildford Home Society, as a residential treatment program. In 2001, she was behind the creation of the non-profit program, Soul Harbour Ranch, an alcohol and drug treatment program for teens in Keremeos. Lia graduated from Claremont Secondary in Central Saanich in 1972. She completed two degrees at the University of Victoria and then an MA in Conflict Analysis and Management at Royal Roads University (2007). She is currently a member of the St. Michael’s and All Angels parish in Chemainus, a board member of the Chemainus Residents’ Association, Vice President of Ladysmith’s Lions Club, a Board member of the UVIC Alumni Association, a member of the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association and of the BC Wildlife Federation. Lia works part time for Vancouver Island University, is a Special Education Assistant for an Online Academy, is also a member of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, and works part-time at Fabricland in Duncan, outside of her private Dispute Resolution practice. Lia has three adult children, a grandson, and two retired service dogs. She enjoys fishing and Cowboy Action shooting, skeet and archery. Lia is also a gifted fibre artist.There is no isolated solution to poverty issues. No matter who is doing the research, BC’s human population has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada and a lot of these humans are children. The other significant group in poverty statistics is single women, particularly elders.

 The BC Greens have been exploring the concept of basic livable wages or basic income, and a poverty reduction strategy. My own research reveals an extremely complex set of variables that make up the social reality of “poverty”.  A poverty reduction plan has to include a living wage, affordable rental housing, access to health care including mental health care, vision care, dental care and prescriptions, affordable daycare for children, care for seniors, particularly single older women, eliminating student debt and creating incentives for graduates to stay and work in BC, disability services for everyone living with a disability, accessible transit at affordable rates with subsidies for those who qualify, food security and access, and a myriad of systems to share information about what is available and how to access it.

The time has long passed in BC for a comprehensive plan addressing this multitude of factors. Many of them can be improved through social policy, which needs immediate Provincial reform. Taxation rates can be modified, MSP Premiums can be eliminated and included in the provincial tax structure, landlord-tenant regulations can be altered, secondary suites can be authorized, private-public partnerships can be brought to local communities and increased recognition and funding provided to non-profits such as the Ladysmith  Lions Clubs and other service groups that build and provide low cost housing for seniors, welfare rates must be increased and food banks supported through partnerships with local food producers, the foster care system must be overhauled and children supported through a trades apprenticeship or academic program with incentives to continue working and residing in BC, marginalized populations must be embraced and celebrated, child support must be enforced and the bureaucracy surrounding it eliminated, financial literacy incorporated into school curriculums from elementary through post-secondary schools, and a spirit of human compassion brought to every level of government working collaboratively to end this shameful situation. There are so many things we can do! We need to bring hope and potential back into the lives of our citizens, and forbid lending practices that allow people to spiral deeper and deeper into debt. Regulatory changes can and must be instituted to protect vulnerable populations. The people of Nanaimo-North-Cowichan can depend on me to champion this cause through all of these and many other collaborative strategies I will bring forward as their next MLA. There really is only one choice – Green for Nanaimo-North-Cowichan right now.

Lia Versaevel, Candidate, Green Party of BC


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