MHA con­sid­ers job “a rare priv­i­lege” to help make a dif­fer­ence

The Compass - - SPORTS -

“If you talk to the coun­cils, re­cre­ation com­mit­tees and con­stituents, I know they’ll give Crys­tal and this of­fice glow­ing ...,” John­son said.

The MHA meets with her as­sis­tant “ev­ery day on ev­ery call that comes in, be­cause when I go out on the week­ends I want to know who called and what their is­sue is.”

Large ru­ral dis­trict

One of the prov­ince’s largest ru­ral dis­tricts, Trin­ity-bay de Verde is made up of some 36 com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing in­cor­po­rated towns, lo­cal ser­vice dis­tricts and to­tally un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas stretch­ing from New Har­bour on the Trin­ity South shore around the penin­sula to Salmon Cove in Con­cep­tion Bay.

With about 14 mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils in the dis­trict, John­son said, “I try and hit ev­ery coun­cil (meet­ing) at least twice a year.”

As min­is­ter of the Depart­ment of Child, Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices, she has to jug­gle her cab­i­net du­ties with her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to con­stituents.

Cab­i­net com­mit­tee meet­ings take up a lot of her time Tues­days through Thurs­days. But ev­ery day she takes time to go over the call log and is­sues with her as­sis­tant.

“I’m one who likes to work faceto-face with my con­stituency as­sis­tant. If it wasn’t work­ing I’d have to look at chang­ing it.”

Where to put an of­fice

When she was a rookie MHA about seven years ago, John­son re­called ex­per­i­ment­ing with what she calls “roam­ing clin­ics.”

For ex­am­ple, she would make her­self avail­able to con­stituents in places like the So­ci­ety of United Fish­er­men (SUF) lodge in Dildo and the Heart’s De­light-is­ling­ton town hall. “We would advertise we would be there a cer­tain day of the month. But not a lot of peo­ple came to the clin­ics.”

The MHA saud, “it’s some­thing we’re go­ing to look at again, and maybe advertise it a bit more.”

As for hang­ing out a shin­gle in the dis­trict, the MHA said, “I’m not say­ing I wouldn’t go there, but to be re­al­is­tic, if I did do it, I’d have to give some se­ri­ous thought as to where I’d put it.

“As you know, if I put it on the North Shore, peo­ple from Trin­ity Bay don’t of­ten come over to the North Shore, and peo­ple on the shore don’t of­ten go to Trin­ity Bay. In re­al­ity, they’re in St. John’s more than on the other side of the bay.”

Hav­ing given the best lo­ca­tion for a con­stituency of­fice some thought, John­son ob­serves, “ev­ery­one goes to Car­bon­ear — that would make sense, but then that’s still not in my dis­trict. It’s not about what works for me, it’s about what works for the con­stituents.”

In terms of rep­re­sen­ta­tion and at­tend­ing events, John­son states: “I guess the best ones to an­swer that would be groups who in­vite me. But I think it’s fair to say they would give me a pass­ing grade in that area. We’re steady on the go.

“It’s a jug­gle when you’re a min­is­ter, too. It’s a rare priv­i­lege to be a min­is­ter in gov­ern­ment and to be able to make a dif­fer­ence. I love both be­ing MHA and min­is­ter, es­pe­cially in this depart­ment. It plays at the heart­strings a lot, and there are a lot of chal­lenges in the depart­ment, but ev­ery chal­lenge is an op­por­tu­nity to make it bet­ter in chil­drens’ lives. I re­ally en­joy be­ing here,” John­son said.

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