BC votes 2017: The hot-button issues for Vancouverites

We share how the three leading parties would address six major local concerns

 

In the lead-up to the provincial election on May 9, we’re giving you the lowdown on some hot topics covered in the platforms of the main three contenders: the BC Liberals, BC NDP and Greens of BC. This information was mostly drawn from the political parties’ websites as of April 17, but some information was also requested from the parties directly, as identified by the asterisks (*).

 

Topic/Party

BC Liberals

Leader: Christy Clark

BC NDP

Leader: John Horgan

Greens of BC

Leader: Andrew Weaver

Affordable housing

 

One of the key issues of the 2017 provincial election is housing affordability. Metro Vancouver had the highest real estate costs and bachelor pad rental fees of any Canadian city in 2016, according to RentSeeker.ca, a leading real estate website in Canada.     

Main message:

·   5,000 new affordable housing units

·   Increase rental supply

·   Raise threshold of First Time Home Buyers’ Program exemption to $500,000

·   $700-million to BC HOME Partnership program

·   Explore developing a registry for accessible housing in BC

Main message:

·    114,000 new affordable rental, non-profit, co-op and owner-purchase housing units through partnerships over 10 years

·      $400/per rental household refundable renter’s rebate

·      Close fixed-term lease loophole and ensure controls on rent increases are enforced

·      Create a Housing Affordability Fund to support housing affordability initiatives

Main message:

·   Up to $750 million/year for around 4,000 units of affordable housing/year

·   Implement a provincial housing plan for affordable rentals

·   Update the Residential Tenancy Act to protect renters

 

Child care

 

Vancouver was ranked the second least affordable city for child care – after Toronto – in a study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in December 2016. As parents with young children know, very few affordable child care spaces are available in Vancouver, and wait times for any spot at a registered facility are long.

Main message:

·   Create 5,000 new child care spaces in 2017 with a goal of up to 13,000 spaces by 2020

·   Invest in operating expenses to make child care more affordable

·   Invest in the Child Care Subsidy program for families who need help paying for child care

Cost: $352.5 million

Main message:

·      $10/day child care for full-day care

·      $7/day for part-time

·      $0 for families with annual incomes below $40,000/year

Cost: $855 million from 2017 to 2020

Main message:

·      Free preschool for children three to four years old

·      Free daycare for children up to age three with working parents

·      Up to $500/month for families with a stay-at-home parent and a child up to age two

Cost:*

·Free preschool = $685.8 million

·Free daycare = $488.7 million/year when fully implemented 

·Stay-at-home parents = $540 million

Medical Service Plan (MSP) elimination

 

BC is the only province in Canada that charges a flat rate health tax based on income that can add to annual household expenses.

Main message:

·   Move to eliminate MSP, starting with a 50 per cent cut in premiums for families and individuals with a net income up to $120,000/year

Main message:

·    Eliminate MSP fees within four years

 

Main message:

·   Eliminate MSP premiums by rolling them into the payroll and personal income tax

 

Tech sector

 

The tech sector in Vancouver employs around 75,000 professionals, with a median wage of $85,000, according to the Vancouver Economic Commission, and it’s growing across BC at a rate of six per cent per year.

Main message:

·   $4.5 million from 2017 to 2020 for new Seattle and expanded Silicon Valley BC Trade Offices

·   $87 million investment in the BC Tech Strategy

·   $500,000 for consultation on an innovation hub at Robson Square

·   Support accelerators and incubators as needed throughout the province

Main message:

·    $140 million from 2017 to 2020 to energize BC’s tech sector

·    Improve investment tax credits, hire local software developers and re-establish the Innovative Clean Energy program

·    Improve access to capital

Main message:

·   Establish an Innovation Commission to support innovation and business development in the technology sector

·   $70 million over four years to qualifying entrepreneurs for leveraging seed or angel funding

·   $50 million per year invested in business incubators, accelerators and affordable space for small and medium-sized enterprises

Ride share

 

The ride share company, Uber, has already broken ground in Calgary, AB; Toronto, ON; and Gatineau, QC, to name a few cities. Many Vancouverites want to see it and other ride sharing options in our city, but safety and competition concerns are also pushing back.  

Main message:

·   Plan to bring ride sharing to BC

Main message:*

·    Ride sharing is coming to BC

·    Ensure a level playing field that protects jobs and passengers and improves service

Main message:

·   Establish an Emerging Economy Task Force to examine the changing nature of business over the next 10 to 25 years, including looking at issues like the Uber ride sharing service

Fentanyl, mental health and addictions

 

The fentanyl crisis claimed 922 lives in BC in 2016, and the death toll continues to rise. Many residents are looking to whichever party forms the next provincial government to enact policies and direct funding to programs, support staff and facilities that will help put an end to the crisis.

Main message:

·   Use $10 million from the federal government to prevent fentanyl and carfentanil deaths

·   $2 million to expand drug prevention and education programs in BC schools focusing on fentanyl

·   Confirm $165 million for youth mental health needs and substance abuse issues, including $12 million for up to 28 addiction treatment beds for youth

Main message:

·    $35 million from 2017-2020 to increase supports for mental health and addictions

·    Establish a BC-wide strategy to maximize availability of naloxone kits

·    Establish a special initiative with First Nations leaders and their communities to provide additional assistance where the impact of the crisis is greatest

·    Increase support for first responders, including counselling for PTSD and work-related stress

Main message:*

·   Develop a response to the fentanyl crisis based on European models: invest in treatment on demand, drug substitution, early-warning monitoring systems and a coordinated response

·   Allocate $80 million to fund early intervention, youth mental health initiatives, supervised injection sites, and community based centres for mental health and rehabilitation

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