Home Government Government of BC Mitzi Dean was engaged across communities in 2023

Mitzi Dean was engaged across communities in 2023

Engaging as local MLA in the west shore and Minister of Children and Family Development

langford, colwood, view royal, metchosin, mayors, vision westshore
Vision Westshore on June 8, 2023 at Olympic View Golf Course (from left): View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias; West Shore Chamber Executive Director Julie Lawlor; MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) as emcee; Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi; Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson; and Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Friday December 26, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated January 3, 2024]

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

At this year end, it’s clear that one of the hardest working and wide-impact MLAs on Vancouver Island is Mitzi Dean.

Not only is she visibly active in her constituency of Esquimalt-Metchosin (which includes Colwood and View Royal) but across the province through her work as the Minister of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

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Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) chatting with constituents at A Kinder Cup in View Royal, May 26, 2023. [supplied]

Dean says she is reflecting on the accomplishments for youth “with gratitude while knowing that in 2024 we have more to do”.

“I agree with and am committed to calls for transformation,” said Dean in a social media post today. In the past year the work of MCFD has been challenged politically in light of some specific and some longstanding issues in particular around the children and families of Indigenous background and culture.

“I look forward to working with Nations on jurisdiction and delivering more supports for children, youth and families,” said Dean today.

In June she attended the naming of a new elementary school with an Indigenous name gifted by First Nations leaders.

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Local MLA Mitzi Dean addressed the folks gathered at the SĆIȺNEW̱ SṮEȽIṮḴEȽ school construction site in Langford, August 14, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Speaker series & public input:

In November and December, Mitzi Dean hosted a Symposium Speaker Series to help inform a new approach to services for children and youth with support needs. The six-part series has been one part of the NDP government’s “renewed consultation process to hear all voices on how to best deliver services to children and youth with support needs and to meet the standards of the Declaration Act”.

From March 2023 through December 2024, the Province is collecting feedback as part of its overall work to design an effective system of services for children and youth with support needs. This engagement will be inclusive of families, service providers, advocates, experts, those with lived experience, First Nations, and Indigenous Peoples.

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Public input about families in BC, open to Dec 1, 2024. [BC Govt]

Indigenous issues:

In November Minister Dean was in Ottawa for an opportunity to meet with the federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu. They discussed working together with First Nations to support Indigenous children and families and keep their children connected to family, culture and community.

mitzi dean, patty hajdu
Discussing the well-being of Indigenous Services, in Ottawa, Nov 2023 (from left): Minister of Indigenous Families Patty Hajdu and BC Minister of Children and Families, Mitzi Dean. [supplied]

During 2023 Minister Dean has been challenged in the BC Legislative Assembly regarding the MCFD’s work as it impacts the lives of Indigenous families. In July she defended her work as making continued progress and has been backed by Premier David Eby along the way.

After a very sad tragic incidence of a complete failure of child welfare for two Indigenous children in the BC Interior as made headlines earlier this year, Minister Dean meanwhile continues to support and is working to facilitate Indigenous self-government in child and family services.

“Every young person in care must be able to trust the adults and caregivers in their lives to act with their best interests in mind, and to provide them with safety, care and support. Our focus is on protecting children and youth and ensuring their well-being,” said Minister Dean in a statement on June 26, 2023.

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Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, in the BC Legislature November 3, 2022. [Hansard]

West shore connections:

Mitzi Dean as an MLA in a large portion of the west shore of Greater Victoria (her riding includes Colwood, Esquimalt, Metchosin and View Royal) and as a long-standing MLA first appointed to higher ranks in the John Horgan government in 2017 (first as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity and then as Minister of Children and Family Development), Dean takes leadership among the west shore mayors and other aspects of the west shore communities.

west shore, mayors, chamber of commerce
Vision Westshore on June 8, 2023 at Olympic View Golf Course (from left): View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias; West Shore Chamber Executive Director Julie Lawlor; MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) as emcee; Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi; Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson; and Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

In June 2023 Mitzi Dean, MLA attended a Vision West event where mayors of Colwood (Doug Kobayashi), Langford (Scott Goodmanson), Metchosin (Marie-Térèse Little) and View Royal (Sid Tobias) shared their views on current regional issues with over 100 guests from the west shore business and not-for-profit communities.

Mitzi Dean attended the annual Metchosin Day festival in September to help support the strong agricultural theme of the small rural community.

In November the Town of View Royal held a public open house about the new BC housing legislation. Mitzi Dean discussed the municipality’s concerns with Mayor Sid Tobias ahead of the meeting.

In 2024 Mitzi Dean will be looking to include the Vic West area (closer to the downtown core of Victoria) in her community engagement, as the boundaries of her current Esquimalt-Metchosin riding have changed to include Vic West in a new riding called Esquimalt-Colwood that will see Metchosin shifted to a different riding called Juan de Fuca-Malahat .

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West Shore area of Greater Victoria, on South Vancouver Island, BC.

Ties into tenancy:

The provincial government has been taking action to improve services at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), Dean points out.

Tenancy dispute wait times, application processing times and service- by-phone waits have all improved. This helps support families.

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Health care:

Dean encouraged people across BC to be safe while gathering socially this holiday season, in particular that people book immunization appointments. COVID and influenza vaccines are available free in BC.

Amidst the continuing shortage of primary care physicians, Dean does say that the provincial government “is removing barriers to make it faster and easier for people to access the care they need, while relieving pressure off clinics and ERs”. She heralds the recent changes in BC which enable retail pharmacists to consult for people about treatment for minor ailments and accessing free contraceptives.

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Westshore MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) emceed the provincial announcement about the long-term care facility in Colwood, on March 16, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“Too many children and youth with support needs are left behind and we are working to change that,” says Dean. This year the government launched four Family Connections Centre pilots and Budget 2023 investments gave families greater access to therapies, support for fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD), expanded respite and decreased out-of-pocket expenses.

In March, Mitzi Dean attended an announcement in Colwood about construction of a new Island Health care facility including 260 long-term beds for seniors as well as brain injury care spaces and hospice care, and an adult day program for seniors who live independently but need a bit of support.

Foster care:

In April the BC government increased supports for foster and extended family caregivers who provide children and youth with stability and care.

After a decade of no lifts, Dean points out that the government raised rates twice to support those who play such a key role in our communities. This is evidence of her influence within MCFD as to recognizing on-the-ground realities of foster and extended family caregivers and the children and youth in their care.

mitzi dean, colwood, 2021
Announcing the new Westshore Community Health Centre in Colwood on November 12, 2021 (from left): Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development; Shawna Adams, Chair, Pacific Family Centre Services Association; Dr Randal Mason, co-chair, South Island Division of Family Practice; and Ron Mattson, vice-chair, Island Health Board of Directors. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Dean’s career prior to elected politics was entirely around the well-being of children and families.

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Newsmakers of 2023 – global, federal, provincial & local [Island Social Trends]

Out and about this holiday season:

In the busy December holiday season, Mitzi Dean was also visiting around the province on ministry-related announcements and meetings.

And in the holiday season spirit, Mitzi Dean’s office mailed out a season’s greetings card with cover artwork by her daughter Pandora who is a student at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood.

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Mitzi Dean, MLA constituency office 2023 holiday greeting card design by Pandora, a student at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood.

On December 1, Dean was pleased to announced that more Indigenous youth and families will now have access to safe, stable, rental housing on Tsawwassen First Nation lands. With Premier David Eby, she visited Tsawwassen First Nation to celebrate the opening of new homes which will be called čitməxʷʔelə (Owl Nest). She witnessed the blanketing of Premier Eby and received a blanket from the First Nation, calling the youth centre “fantastic”.

mitzi dean, david eby, tsawassen, first nation
With Premier David Eby, Minister of Children and Families Mitzi Dean attended a celebration of new housing at Tsawassen First Nation, Dec 2023. [Supplied]

On December 3, Mitzi Dean, MLA attended the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights. She appreciated the organizers and volunteers who generously donated their time.

mitzi dean, esquimalt, celebration of lights, xmas
Local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) at the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights on Dec 3, 2023. [supplied]

On December 6, Mitzi Dean was in Maple Ridge for the announcement of new supports for youth in Maple Ridge. Youth in crisis can now access 24/7 supports and overnight accommodation through the Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) pilot. She thanked Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare, local MLA Bob D’Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission) and Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy and community partners for making it possible. In addition to a safe place to sleep, the pilot will grow to offer outreach services and day programming that connect youth to longer term supports and services, helping them address family conflict, housing instability, homelessness, and mental health and substance use issues. This is a key step in our continued work to invest in a network of supports for vulnerable young people in BC.

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Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development in Maple Ridge, Dec 6, 2023. [supplied]

“We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with our partners to explore ways we can ensure young people have the supports and services they need,” said Dean, adding that now struggling youth in Maple Ridge have a safe place to sleep and connect with supports at the new Youth Emergency Shelter pilot, advocated for by their community.

In the evening on December 6 a ceremony for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was held on the front steps of the BC Parliament buildings. Dean has said on this day, as part of remembering the 14 women who were murdered at École Polytechnique: “We say their names, we remember them, we renew our resolve to ending gender-based violence. On this day, we reaffirm our commitment to fight the misogyny, discrimination and gender-based violence that girls, women and 2SLGBTQ+ communities around the world still face today.”

“We must act to end gender-based violence. Some actions already taken by our government include funding sexual assault services for survivors, supporting Indigenous communities in creating their own approach to gender-based violence, introducing awareness programs in schools, and more.”

BC has now had three women MLAs in the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. Dean was the first Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in BC, a post that was subsequently held by Grace Lore, MLA (Victoria-Beacon Hill) and is now held by Kelli Paddon, MLA (Chilliwack-Kent).

On December 7, Mitzi Dean toured Covenant House. The facility opened its doors in 1997 in response to the lack of short-term transitional housing for street entrenched youth. “The little things have been thought of when creating this safe space such as a spiritual area, warm meals where youth can choose what they want to eat while enjoying the company of each other &and workers, a clothing area styled to be like a store and many more,” said Dean.

mitzi dean, covenant house
Mitzi Dean at Covenant House in Vancouver, Dec 2023. [supplied]

On December 15 Mitzi Dean met with James Bay Community Project’s ED Kate Kennish and Board Chair Rory McAlpine and visited the kids at their Family Centre and hear about all their plans for the future!

mitzi dean, james bay, community project
Minister of Children and Family Development, Mitzi Dean, learned more about the James Bay Community Project, Dec 15, 2023 in Victoria. [supplied]

On December 20, Mitzi Dean posted her MCFD holiday office photo in social media, thanking her staff for all their hard work.

mitzi dean, minister, children and families, staff
MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean with her ministry staff ahead of the Christmas break, Dec 2023. [supplied]

The BC Legislative Assembly returns for their Spring 2024 sitting on February 20 (for Throne Speech), with BC Budget 2024 coming February 22. The next BC provincial election is scheduled for October 19, 2024.

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Newsmakers of 2023 – global, federal, provincial & local [Island Social Trends]

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