NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau outlined billions of dollars in spending on education, childcare, income security, and affordable housing as part of its election platform, released Wednesday in New Westminster.
The plan includes $10 billion in spending on new initiatives over three years.
“Our platform gets targeted support to the people who need it now, while also building a stronger, more equitable and sustainable province,” Furstenau said the day after the televised leaders’ debate.
“Even before COVID-19, we were facing overlapping public health, inequality, and environmental crises,” she added.
“But by making deliberate, strategic choices in how we navigate the pandemic recovery, we can seize new opportunities from these challenges. We can build an economy that is more inclusive and that provides secure jobs for British Columbians across the province. We can establish B.C. as a world-leading low-carbon economy, exporting the ideas and the technology that the world needs to solve the climate crisis.”
The Greens, if elected in the Oct. 24 provincial election, would spend $300 million on universal early education for children aged three and four, with that rising to $550 million as capacity expands. The party would also increase funding for child care programs by more than $200 million.
The Greens further committed to provide $100 million to create a new capital program in the Ministry of Education to renovate and add to existing schools to support early childhood educator spaces.
The Greens also promise to fund grants for school districts to 100 per cent of those received for the current school year so the COVID-19 pandemic does not “comprise the quality of education, nor the ability of schools to retain current teachers or education assistants.”
We have plans to:
End the age of scarcity in K-12 schools
Protect affordable rentals
Provide mental health coverage
Provide a basic income for youth transitioning out of care
Ban conversion therapy
Fight climate change
Fund a just transition for workers…
— SoniaFurstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) October 14, 2020
The party would invest another $24 million to support the mental health of students and enhance the number of counsellors in schools.
The Greens are also promising to ensure every school district can develop remote and hybrid learning options, and develop and implement a province-wide plan to address racism that exists in schools, while committing to additional funding to deepen the work of reconciliation and Indigenous education.
The party would invest another $25 million in a fund for school districts to develop food programs.
On housing, the Greens would expand supports for co-ops by extending leases. The party would also create a land bank for new co-op housing and provide tenured security for those on leased land.
The party pledges to establish a capital fund to support the acquisition and maintenance of rental housing by non-profit organizations to maintain affordable units, as well as close loopholes that exploit the market.
The Greens previously announced a rental support program for people paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent, as well as a plan to phase out public funding for-profit long-term care facilities.
The Green platform promises to provide a basic income for youth aging out of government care.
The party also wants to start a transition towards basic income. It would do so 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.”
The Greens also want to build a mental healthcare system in which cost is not a barrier to seeking help.
Small business, tourism
The Green Party promises $300 million to create a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses. It would cover up to 25 per cent of rental costs for those that qualify.
As well, the party pledges to work with non-profit tourism businesses, cultural facilities, and attractions to develop a grant program to ensure they can survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With our plan we will step up with immediate funds to help pay the rent this winter, taking some of the stress off of business owners and letting them know that we will be there with the help they need,” says the platform.
The Greens want to restart the Police Act review that was set aside when the election was called.
The party would review procedures for wellness checks, in consultation with Indigenous and BIPOC organizations, advocates and health professionals. The goal is to expand the use of integrated mental health crisis teams for mental health wellness checks.
The party also supports better collection of disaggregated demographic data to better understand disparities in society, for health, education, housing, and employment outcomes in particular.
The Greens further promise to recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent in B.C., carrying out the requests of the BC Advisory Committee on the UN Decade for People of African Descent, as well as re-introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy.
Lastly, the Green platform includes a $1 billion innovation fund to shift to a zero-carbon economy, as well as establish a Fair Wages Commission to recommend increases in the minimum wage. The party would also introduce equal pay legislation.
The Greens would also make prescription contraceptive products free for those under 25, and establish permanent funding for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre.
“No matter the outcome of this election, B.C. Green MLAs are ready to work hard to deliver the immediate and targeted support that can get us through COVID-19, and to position our economy to emerge stronger, cleaner, and more equitable on the other side,” Furstenau said.
The Green party won three seats in 2017, up from one in 2013.
Read the full BC Green Party platform:2020 BC Greens platform (1)