Green platform tackles health, environmental and equality crises

Start with assisting those hardest hit by pandemic, Furstenau says

B.C’s Green party’s platform released Oct. 14 focuses on fixing overlapping health, environmental and equality crises facing British Columbians.

“Our platform gets targeted support to the people who need it now, while also building a stronger, more equitable and sustainable province,” Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said. “It’s a product of a lot of hard work.”

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Furstenau, who became leader very shortly before the election call, said her team focused on two points in creating the platform: what is immediately needed by those hardest hit by the pandemic and how can the province be built in the long-term.

She said it was clear young people, women, seniors, small businesses and the tourism sector were shouldering the brunt of the pandemic.

“By making deliberate, strategic choices in how we navigate the pandemic recovery, we can seize new opportunities from these challenges,” Furstenau said. “We can build an economy that is more inclusive and that provides secure jobs for British Columbians across the province.

Furstenau said the province has the potential to become a world-leading, low-carbon economy, exporting the ideas and the technology globally.

Among key platform items are:

  • a rental support program for people paying more than 30% of their income in rent;
  • phase out the public funding of for-profit long-term care facilities;
  • universal early childhood education for 3 and 4 year olds;
  • build an affordable and accessible mental healthcare system where cost isn’t a barrier to help;
  • a clean recovery plan, including a just transition for workers and a $1 billion innovation fund to shift to a zero carbon economy;
  • funding operating grants for school districts to 100% of the grants received in the 2019-20 school year to ensure enrolment during COVID doesn’t compromise education quality or schools’ ability to retain current teachers or education assistants;
  • $24 million for student mental health supports, including new counsellors starting with the current school year;
  • expanding co-op housing support through leases extensions, a land bank for new co-ops and security of tenure for co-ops on leased land;
  • establishing a capital fund for nonprofits’ acquisition and maintenance of rental housing to maintain affordable rental units and address the financialization of the rental market;
  • reducing the exploitation of our housing market by closing the bare trust loophole and closing loopholes in the speculation tax;
  • basic income for youth aging out of care;
  • moving towards basic income by increasing income support levels, beginning with making the $300 crisis supplement permanent and indexing assistance to inflation, eliminating the asset test, reducing clawbacks on earned income to reduce the disincentive to work and establishing a 12-month period where those who qualify for income assistance can earn extra income without clawbacks;
  • restarting the Police Act review set aside when John Horgan called the election;
  • reviewing procedures for wellness checks in consultation with Indigenous and BIPOC organizations, advocates and health professionals, with a goal of expanding the use of integrated mental health crisis teams in BC for mental health wellness checks; and
  • re-introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy in B.C.

The Greens’ release comes after the Liberal release Oct. 13 and the NDP unveiling Oct. 6.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo
 

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