Wednesday October 14, 2020 | VICTORIA & VANCOUVER [Update 1:45 pm]
Election campaign coverage by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Inside notes and editorial about the October 13 Leaders Debate will be made available to paying subscribers. | How to subscribe: call 250-217-5821 to request an invoice and pay by credit card, or email your billing request to email@example.com (and pay by e-transfer) | Subscription info: www.islandsocialtrends.com/subscribe-2
Wednesday October 14 is Day 23(*) on the Election BC campaign trail (*calling September 21 as Day 1, the day the election was called).
- The Provincial General Election Day is on Saturday October 24. Advance voting (for seven days) and voting-by-mail are available. Elections BC info. | See which ridings have the highest number of mail-in ballot requests.
- Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which requires physical distancing, most campaign activities are done remotely online, both for the media and the voter audiences.
- Town halls and All Candidates Meetings are posted on the Island Social Trends Events page.
BC NDP: At 9:15 am, BC NDP leader John Horgan (candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca) made a seniors care announcement, as part of a plan to improve long-term care through the pandemic. He was joined by Adrian Dix who as health minister has guided the health of the province along with Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry during the pandemic. They were joined by long-term care worker Maria Lugs as well as candidates from the BC NDP Richmond team.
Today Horgan announced that the province would move toward long-term care being a public system. He said that would take time, so that privately-owned and operated long-term care facilities will be able to adapt. The goal is to ensure that seniors get the care they deserve, the NDP Leader said.
Dix reiterated with great heartfelt thanks, his appreciation for the commitment of frontline health-care workers during the pandemic. He outlined how moving to a single-site system was an early initiative by BC in the pandemic this spring, which saved lives. The contract-flipping between private long-term care facilities and by which wages were kept too low (with a profit motive for the owners) was put to a halt with the single-site initiative, which was quite a creative, less-messy approach to solving the problem.
Both Horgan and Dix said that BC, Canada and the world will be living with pandemic realities for several years to come. It’s that one singular fact — more than anything else — which probably tipped Horgan’s hand to calling an election, as part of his personal mission and commitment to steer British Columbia in a direction that allows all residents to be safe, healthy, and able to maintain themselves financially.
At 10:00 am Horgan took part in a roundtable discussion with Richmond voters at the Queensborough Community Centre. Both Horgan and Dix have in recent weeks announced the expansion at the Richmond hospital, as well as upgrades to hospice spaces.
Today, BC NDP candidate Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) made an announcement at the Point Hope Maritime shipyard in Victoria, along with BC NDP candidates Murray Rankin (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) and Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake). They essentially re-announced BC NDP Leader John Horgan’s announcement about a long-term BC shipbuilding strategy to “create good jobs and bring more work to shipyards” while making BC shipyards modern and competitive so they are able to “win more contracts”.
Recently, in Vancouver, Horgan made that commitment at the Seaspan Shipyards, saying that by partnering with the BC government that the shipbuilding industry will have more financial clout to bid on national and international contracts. A re-elected BC government will work with the federal government and BC shipyards to identify the areas where strategic investments could have the more impact. The Shipbuilding Strategy for BC will also include strategic investments in repair, maintenance and refit.
BC Liberal: BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson was in Kitimat today, making an announcement at 1:30 pm at Hospital Beach near the LNG plant development location in the Peace River region. Rural dividends fund , benefits of resource development. A second LNG plant at Kitimat, for which he says there are proponents in the wings. “LNG is a generational opportunity for BC and here in Skeena it became a reality because of a BC Liberal vision,” Wilkinson said today, adding it would create more jobs and prosperity in rural areas that he claims the BC NDP have “taken for granted”.
About hospital construction, he says the BC Liberals built 14 hospitals in their 16 years in government had others in the works. Today Wilkinson committed to building a replacement Mills Memorial Hospital.
BC has an abundance of methane, can be used with variants to produce petrochemicals. He wants to see BC add value to natural resources, noting that is already done with mass timber. And “we need to get maximum value out of natural gas”.
The BC Liberal leader said today in his media teleconference regarding the topic of white privilege (which as brought up at the leaders debate last night), that the BC Liberals have included a “concept of anti-racism and a need for cultural humility” and “not assume that people understand this already, because they do not”.
Wilkinson was in Terrace this morning. The BC Liberal candidate for North Coast attended as well in Kitmat this afternoon.
BC Green: BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau held a full platform release announcement at 12:30 pm at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.
She released the full BC Green platform today, which she identified as an evidence-based plan. She said it was developed with two questions in mind — what does government need to get the immediate targeted support of those hardest hit by the pandemic, and how to build a stronger more sustainable province for the long term.
She sees the COVID-19 pandemic economic fallout having a disproportionate impact on young people, service and hospitality workers, small businesses and the tourism sector. There has also been a disproportionate impact on women who in many cases are now having to work full time jobs along with child care. The costs to seniors have been “heartbreaking” she said today. Furstenau says the Greens would want to see “plans to shift away from public money for long-term care as part of reform of the long-term care system that is “more transparent and accountable and a better quality of life for elders”.
As already announced by Furstenau, she highlighted support for young families with a significant investment in child care and early childhood education for children. For renters she reiterated an earlier announcement about a supporting renters who spend more than 30% of their income on rent. She suggests a rental subsidy program for small business with tourism grants “to get through this winter”.
As for schools, she says they’re not as safe as they could be during the pandemic, noting that with some teacher layoffs the class sizes are larger than are considered safe, and that both parents and teachers are concerned. “School districts shouldn’t have to worry about funding needs,” said Furstenau, itemizing 16 years of austerity under the BC Liberals that kept classroom sizes large and made it tough to compete nationally with teacher salaries. She says the Horgan NDP government has taken “some action around the edges” but that there has been “very little transformative work where it really matters”. She claims that operating grant funding should be at 100%, given — she says — that if students are not attending inc-classroom this year that school districts receive less funding for those students. That’s despite that remote learning carries its own costs for curriculum development and higher demand on IT systems. She wants to see more counsellors in schools starting with this current school year.
Furstenau says the BC Greens as part of their public education platform that they would push for better integration of nutrition in the BC curriculum given the importance of optimum health as a basis for the ability to learn, and a new $25 million fund for school districts to develop a food program for their school and help eliminate the stigma about providing food through schools.
The Green platform calls for development and implementation of a province-wide plan to “address racism that exists in schools” and additional ongoing funding to deepen the work of reconciliation. She wants to “work with education partners on a long term plan for how BC can improve per-student funding”, even though the Ministry of Education did confirm to Island Social Trends in September that the funding level would not be changed due to COVID and changes in education delivery during the pandemic.
Transition to a livable income includes, for Greens, making the $300 crisis supplement permanent (and indexing to inflation), reducing clawbacks on earned income so people have certainty for pivoting their lives to build their way out of poverty. She suggests a housing office to assist people with disabilities and youth again out of care to find suitable housing and a task force to modernize employment standards.
“Government works better when no party has all the power,” said Furstenau today. “There needs to be immediate and targeted support to get through the COVID pandemic,” said Furstenau, so that BC can “emerge stronger, cleaner and more equitable on the other side of this health crisis”.
The BC Green leader will hold a candidate event in Surrey at 2:15 pm.
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