A higher minimum wage, internet access for all communities and clean drinking water for First Nations were among resolutions at the recent federal NDP convention that may be of interest to Shuswap residents.
Kristine Wickner expressed this opinion after attending the virtual convention as one of five delegates from the North Okanagan-Shuswap electoral district, the lone representative from Salmon Arm.
She said party members who express an interest in being one of the approximate 2,000 delegates Canada-wide are chosen in this region with consideration of gender, regional and Indigenous representation. Other regional delegates were from Vernon and the Syilx or Okanagan Nation.
One amended resolution was to increase the federal minimum wage to $20. While this would just apply to federal employees, she said the main purpose was to put pressure on provincial governments. She said it’s acknowledgement that the living wage in Canada is well above $15. In B.C., its minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $15.20 in June.
Even in New Brunswick, where she was raised, she said a person has to make $19 an hour just to live, according to a recent study. In nearly all cities across Canada listed, the living wage was $19 or higher.
Regarding high speed internet in rural areas, Wickner said a resolution amendment called for publicly owned telecom, due to high rates and inaccessibility.
She said for her and others who have worked at Okanagan College during the pandemic, they’ve seen that being able to access the internet is not a luxury anymore.
As for clean drinking water for First Nations, Wickner said the Okanagan band representative stated that where she lives there has been a ‘do not consume’ order for two years and a boil water order for years.
“And that’s in our own backyard,” Wickner commented.
One disappointment for her was that debate on resolutions was reduced from 60 minutes each to 40. She said she thinks the convention would have done better to have listened to people with ‘lived experience’ on resolutions, such as one regarding murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Wickner, who has been a party member for about 10 years, ran for a position on the NDP’s federal council, the B.C. women’s commission representative, and was elected.
She said she thinks her job will be, as the province and country recover from COVID-19, to make sure the next election platform has strong gender-based components so women don’t fall further behind – as they have during the pandemic.
She said she’ll bring to the commission a view both through a regional and gender lens.