By: Nick Wells in Vancouver.
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — B.C.’s Green party leader took aim at previous provincial governments during the release of her party’s election platform Wednesday, saying not enough had been done to help all residents.
The platform would target people who need help now by building a stronger, more equitable and sustainable province, Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said.
“For so long, we’ve had politicians in so many places make choices that are short-term, that are based on their political fortunes, that are based on the four-year election cycle. And as long as we keep doing that, we’re not going to get different outcomes,” she said.
Part of the platform includes bolstering income security with a move toward a basic income program, she said.
“Our economic growth has not benefited people equally in this province. Many British Columbians were feeling left behind and left out of the benefits of our prosperity well before COVID,” Furstenau said.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the economic insecurity many B.C. residents face.
The basic income program would establish a 12-month period where those who qualify for income assistance can earn extra money, giving more security to those seeking work, she said.
The party also wants to establish a basic income program for youth aging out of care and establish a housing office to help them find suitable accommodation.
The proposed housing office would also help people with disabilities.
“Our social assistance programs do not lift people out of poverty; they often entrench them into poverty,” she said.
In addition to income security, the platform proposes support for those who pay more than 30 per cent of their income toward rent, an accessible mental health-care system and a clean recovery plan that includes a $1-billion innovation fund to help shift to a zero-carbon economy.
A Green party government would help workers in affected industries move to new careers, Furstenau said.
“It’s about recognizing that workers who currently work in sectors that are fossil fuel-oriented, that they have the opportunity, the training that they need to move to another sector of the economy,” she said. “That transition is what we owe to our youth and future generations.”
The Greens also pledged more support for teachers, with offers of maintaining operational grants for schools and starting a $24-million fund to improve access to mental health support for students.
The platform also promises action against real estate speculators and on the rising cost of condo strata insurance.
Furstenau acknowledged her short tenure as leader, but said she hopes her performance in the televised debate will help the party build on the three Green members voted in during the 2017 election.