Cariboo MLA Named Minister of State for Rural Economic Development
100 Mile House, B.C. – The provincial government has created a position it says will help make rural communities strong.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett has been named minister of state for rural economic development.
“I’m very pleased that the premier has appointed me,” she told 250News. “As you know I have been the parliamentary secretary for rural development for some time and prior to that I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of FLNRO (forests, lands and natural resource operations).”
Barnett – who is nearing the end of her second term as MLA – says it’s a great fit for her.
“It’s where my heart is and I understand the issues in our rural communities and this gives me an opportunity to have a stronger voice right at the cabinet table.”
She defines a rural community as a community with 25,000 or fewer people. Barnett says the biggest issue facing rural B.C. is the continued fallout from the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the subsequent downturn in many community’s economies.
She says the government is helping address the issue with the creation of the BC Rural Dividend which is providing $25 million a year over three years to assist rural communities reinvigorate and diversify their economies.
Barnett insists her new job will help give rural British Columbians a louder voice in Victoria.
“Rural MLAs work very hard – I know, I’ve been one for two terms and basically I meet with them continuously – I’ve been chair of the rural caucus and take their initiatives to the cabinet ministers,” she says.
“But now I can sit at the table where the decisions are actually made. Have a voice, not go to the minister and talk about it and have somebody else carry the message forward. I can do that myself.”
“Every community in British Columbia benefits when our rural communities are strong,” said Premier Christy Clark in a prepared statement. “Donna Barnett is a proven champion for rural development who will strengthen our cabinet team as B.C. leads the country in economic growth and jobs, and as we work together to put British Columbians first.”