BC NDP pledges $1,000 in COVID-19 relief to certain families if re-elected

B.C.'s NDP leader is offering up a $1,000 recovery benefit for all families with a household income under $125,000 a year if his party is re-elected but as Richard Zussman reports, the B.C. Liberals take issue with John Horgan's claim that his promise is not a bribe.

A re-elected B.C. government will provide a $1,000 recovery benefit for all families with a household income under $125,000 a year as relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The benefit will be provided on a sliding scale up to an annual family income of $175,000 a year, meaning those who earn more will receive less of the benefit.

“This election is about what kind of future British Columbians want as we face a new reality and move towards full recovery,” BC NDP Leader John Horgan said Tuesday as he unveiled his party’s full platform ahead of the Oct. 24 vote.

“Our plan provides the support people need right now and lays out a vision for how B.C. can emerge from the pandemic stronger and more secure than ever.”

The platform also included a promise of a one-time $500 direct deposit to single people earning less than $62,000 annually, with a sliding scale up to $87,000.

On housing, the NDP promised to freeze rent increases until the end of 2021 and cap them after that.

The party also vowed to bring back a renters’ rebate. The New Democrats had promised a $400 rebate in the lead-up to the last election in 2017, but never delivered. Now, they promised $400 a year for households earning up to $80,000 annually and not receiving other supports.

To address rapidly increasing strata insurance costs, the BC NDP said it will put in place a public strata insurance option, similar to Saskatchewan’s setup if rates don’t go down by the end of 2021.

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Health care made up a significant part of Horgan’s re-election strategy.

A Silver Alert system was promised, following many calls by families of vulnerable seniors.

Similar to the Amber Alert system used to help find missing children, the Silvert Alert will help first responders locate missing seniors, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Horgan also said he would work with BC Cancer and the province’s health authorities to launch a 10-year plan to increase care for cancer patients. The commitment is to provide more individualized care, and expand research and diagnostic capabilities, including investing in new equipment.

The party also committed broadly to scaling up the province’s response to the opioid crisis and cracking down on a toxic drug supply.

Horgan promised to work with Ottawa to fast-track the decriminalization of simple possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.

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In terms of child care, the New Democrats said they will form new partnerships with First Nations, universities, local governments, private sector employers and others to upgrade daycare spaces so that more of them exist where people work.

If re-elected, the party would also fold child care into the Ministry of Education, opening the door for a continuum of care for those in before- and after-school programs, if not for all children.

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On schools, the BC NDP vowed to improve the oft-criticized COVID-19 back-to-school plan, including installing new ventilation systems and Plexiglas barriers in schools.

It also pledged to expediate online and remote learning options, provide funding to ensure kids have adequate school supplies, and bring in local food programs.

Additional promises

  • Free COVID-19 vaccines
  • A second medical school in the province. Location still not determined
  • Free prescription contraceptives
  • COVID-19 premium rebates to drivers if ICBC has turned a profit in 2020
  • More reservations on peak-time BC Ferries sailings
  • Free transit for anyone 12 years old and younger
  • Widening the Fraser Highway from Abbotsford to Surrey
  • Completing the SkyTrain extension from Surrey to Langley, dependent on financial contributions from federal and municipal governments
  • Eliminating the provincial sales tax on e-bikes
  • New income-tested incentive on new and used zero-emission vehicles
  • Banning single-use plastics
  • Enacting legislation to reduce systemic racism
  • Creating a secretariat to ensure new legislation is consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • A full review of the province’s Multiculturalism Act and turning into an Anti-Racism Act
  • Legislation to improve information -haring for law enforcement around guns and gangs
  • Net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Re-establishing the government film-sector task force
  • Tying minimum wage increases to inflation

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson promised to end the ICBC monopoly and open the auto insurance market to private competitors.

In Vancouver, BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau announced her party’s platform to help families, with up to $500 a month for stay-at-home parents, free daycare for working parents with kids under three, increased funding for early childhood education and care, and exploring reduced work weeks.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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