B.C.'s Green Party leader took aim at previous provincial governments during the release of her party's election platform on Wednesday (Oct. 14), 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, noting 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 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.
Here are the highlights of the Green platform:
_ Spend $24 million to support student mental health by increasing the number of school counsellors.
_ Extend leases for existing housing co-ops that are about to expire while also creating a land bank for new co-ops.
_ Create a capital fund to help acquire and maintain rental housing by non-profit organizations.
_ Provide a basic income for youth aging out of care.
_ Create a rental support program for those paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent.
_ Develop a plan to phase out public funding that goes to for-profit long-term care facilities.
_ Provide universal early childhood education for three and four year olds.
_ Create a $1 billion innovation fund to shift to a zero-carbon economy as part of a clean recovery plan that includes help for workers.
_ Review procedures for wellness checks with a goal of expanding the use of integrated mental health crisis teams.
_ In the first year, the platform's promises would cost about $3.8 billion.
_ The party says it would spend more than $10 billion over three years to ``deliver a green and inclusive recovery from COVID.''
_ About $1 billion a year would be saved by ending oil and gas subsidies and revenue would rise by increasing the carbon tax.
_ The province would recognize the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, which says people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.
_ Introduce equal pay legislation.
_ Make prescription contraceptive products free for those under 25 and remove the PST on them.
_ Allocate $300 million for a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses.
_ Promote neighbourhood car co-ops with insurance coverage and designated parking areas.
_ Make BC Ferries a Crown corporation.
_ Commit to make B.C. carbon neutral by 2045, which would match California.