B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announces Parkinson’s disease diagnosis

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announces Parkinson’s disease diagnosis
WatchB.C.'s finance minister Carole James stunned her colleagues today by announcing that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. And while she will continue her work as finance minister and deputy premier, she will not run for re-election. Mary Griffin reports.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James has announced she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she will not seek re-election next year.

James is the deputy premier and finance minister in B.C.’s NDP government. She said he plans to remain in her posts for as long as she is able to.

“I will continue in my role as long as I can do the job 100 per cent,” James said.

She said is speaking publicly about her diagnosis as people often face stigma and she believes it’s important to be open.

“Last summer I noticed that I had developed a slight hand tremor and had a few moments when I had trouble with my balance. I attirubted it to fatigue. But when I mentioned the issues to my family doctor during a routine check-up, she ordered a referral to a neurologist,” James said.

“I saw the neurologist at the end of January of this year, went through a series of tests, and the diagnosis came back as Parkinson’s disease.”

Premier John Horgan released the following statement after James’ announcement.

“In late January, Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James informed me that she is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. I was upset and concerned for my colleague and my friend. She has only mild physical symptoms, and I was pleased when she told me she is able to continue to serve in cabinet as Finance Minister and Deputy Premier,” Horgan said.

“Parkinson’s is a tough disease. Without diminishing the seriousness of the illness, Carole James is tougher. She has spent her entire public life fighting as hard as she can to make life better for people, and I know she will bring that spirit to this next challenge. Our entire team is tremendously grateful to Minister James for all that she has done, and all she will continue to do as an integral part of our government. We look forward to continuing to serve this province and building a stronger B.C. together.”

James was appointed finance minister after the NDP formed government 2 1/2 years ago.

Before she was the B.C. finance minister, James was elected leader of the provincial NDP in 2003 and later won her seat in the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding in the 2005 provincial election. She was re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

James resigned from the party’s leadership in 2010.

Before she entered politics, James served as president of the B.C. School Trustees Association for five terms, commencing in 1995.

She was elected to the Greater Victoria School Board from 1990 to 2001.

She has also served at the national level as the vice-president of the Canadian School Boards Association.

She has had a number of appointments to provincial initiatives, including the Independent B.C. Budget Review Panel, the Public Education Restructuring Consultation, and the Ministry of Children and Families Secure Care Committee.

In 2001, James moved to Prince George to serve as the director of Child and Family Services for Carrier Sekani Family Service. She co-ordinated the planning for the regionalization of child and family services from the Ministry of Children and Families to an Aboriginal Authority. In July 2003, she became co-ordinator with the Northern Aboriginal Authority for Families.

According to her legislative biography, James is married to Albert Gerow, a First Nations artist, and is the mother of two children, Alison and Evan, and a grandparent to Hayden and Charlie. She was a foster parent for over 20 years, giving care to children and adults with special needs.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease affects the way you move. It happens when there is a problem with certain nerve cells in the brain. Parkinson’s is progressive, which means it gets worse over time. But usually, this happens slowly, over many years, according to HealthLink BC.

The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Tremor, which means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, or legs.
  • Stiff muscles.
  • Slow movement.
  • Problems with balance or walking.

Read more about Parkinson’s disease here. 


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