With the first full day of the 2017 provincial election campaign underway, B.C.’s big three parties are outlining their election platforms.
Here are the parties’ biggest announcements from day one of the campaign:
The NDP came out swinging with a big-ticket announcement regarding housing rentals.
Leader John Horgan says if the NDP is elected, his party would give every renting household in the province a $400 grant yearly.
That money would be handed out regardless of location.
“We want renters to know that if they’re renting a place in the Lower Mainland, on the Island, in the interior, wherever they may be, they have access to this grant. Over time we’ll see how may need to adjust it, but we believe this should be a universal program.”
— Charmaine de Silva (@char_des) April 12, 2017
Universal, meaning every renter would benefit – even millionaires.
“I think that’s our plan, it’s responsible. I think our plan is focused on people, and we’re going to be laying out our fully costed platform tomorrow.”
Initial estimates by CKNW indicate the plan could cost $54.5-million a year to cover the City of Vancouver alone.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Green party have released their plan on income security.
Greens’ leader Andrew Weaver says just making enough to live in B.C. is becoming harder for more and more people who actually live here.
To counteract that, Weaver’s proposing a fair wage commission – an arms-length committee based on the Australian fair work commission.
Australia also has a minimum wage of $17.70 an hour, but Weaver says that’s not something a commission would immediately push for.
“That’s simply not possible. We would look to them to bring up the wage in a manner that’s consistent with the ability of small business to absorb it, and that actually reflects working conditions.”
He didn’t rule out the possibility of a higher minimum wage under this new commission, however.
“If it ends up being, five years from now, $17 an hour then so be it.”
Greens ldr Andrew Weaver says "benefits of the economy has been concentrated at the top" in income security message pic.twitter.com/qvjKUQgF7P
— Jeremy Lye (@JJLye980) April 12, 2017
The party is also promising changes to how British Columbians pay for MSP, though their plan is to alter, not abolish, the controversial payments.
Describing MSP as regressive and an unfair burden on low and fixed-income British Columbians, Weaver says they should be rolled into payroll tax and personal income tax to make them fairer.
“So it’s graduated based on income exactly like Ontario, and we eliminate the collection, we save hundreds of millions of dollars because Revenue Canada is already doing this – we don’t need collection agencies, we don’t need to send out monthly billing.”
He says that would make the premiums fairer, while at the same time keeping a vital revenue strain.
The NDP has promised to eliminate MSP and in its last budget, the B.C. Liberals said it would cut payments in half.
Finally, the leader of the B.C. Liberals, Christy Clark, defended her lower income tax platform in Burnaby.
Lower taxes attract talent, according to Clark, and her government has put away $1-billion to create new housing for those prospective workers.
In regards to claims that people already living in the province still can’t find housing, Clark says it’s municipalities’ responsibility to solve the problem.
“If there is not enough rental housing in the province, it’s partly because we still need cities to get to work and zone more rental housing in the province. We need more supply.”
When asked about the NDP’s new platform of subsidizing households that choose to rent, Clark says only wealthy renters in Downtown Vancouver will benefit.
“That isn’t right. We shouldn’t be redistributing our tax money to the very rich, we should be making sure we spend our resources supporting people who are having trouble staying in their homes.”
She says the province already subsidizes housing for low-income households.