Four B.C. election platform ideas worth exploring
Metro looks at four items in the Liberal, NDP and Green party platforms that experts feel are worth talking about.
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Believe it or not, elections aren’t just about mudslinging, opinion polls and attack ads. They are a time for political parties to present their boldest visions of the future to British Columbia voters and spur innovation and thinking that could benefit the province. Without having them endorse any one party, Metro asked experts to pick out various items in Liberal, NDP and Green party platforms and tell readers why they think it’s “an idea worth exploring.”
When the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association conducted its Re-Imagine consultations in 2015, executive director Charles Gauthier said ridesharing services like Uber were a hot topic, especially among young people.
“It’s definitely something we heard loud and clear that people want, and they want to sooner rather than later,” Gauthier told Metro. “What we heard is how difficult it is to access cab services. And coupled with the fact we don’t have a 24-hour transit system across the board, rideshare fills a gap.”
Gauthier acknowledges ridesharing can be disruptive, especially to the taxi industry, but says it will create jobs and make getting around more convenient.
The B.C. Liberals have promised in its platform to make ridesharing a reality as early as this holiday season and will increase funding and supports for taxi companies to limit the damage.
The NDP’s platform says only that it will strive to create a “level playing field” that doesn’t hurt taxi companies and slams the Liberals for its stance.
The Green Party platform says it will help “facilitate” ridesharing and other transportation options.
$10 a day child care
Sharon Gregson of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. calls $10 a day child care an “equal opportunity good idea.”
It was a model created in the community by experts and grassroots organizations and pitched to all three major political parties in the province.
In the end, only the NDP chose to adopt it in its official platform.
“This $10 a day plan is really made as a doable, credible and costed response to the child care chaos that exists across B.C. now,” said Gregson. “It deals with affordability for families, it deals with creating more quality spaces and it deals with investing in the workforce and creating jobs. You can’t fix child care without doing all three of those things.”
Questions remain how the plan – which the NDP would roll out over 10 years – would be fully paid for, but Gregson says it will eventually pay for itself as single parents go off welfare, more women join the labour force and children ultimately are more successful at school.
There are certain things University of British Columbia School of Population Health professor Paul Kershaw expects when he reads election platforms.
The one constant is that health care funding always accounts for the biggest chunk of new investment, no matter the party.
For the first time since Kershaw can remember, a B.C. political party has put forward a platform where health care funding doesn’t come first.
The B.C. Green Party is proposing to make child care and education its top spending commitment, devoting $2.4 billion in new spending compared to approximately $900 million for medical care (pretty much matching Liberal and NDP funding for that), according to Kershaw’s Generation Squeeze think tank.
The focus on youth could mean significant health care savings later in life.
“That’s been a focus of research for the School of Population Health for decades, but I’ve never see it in a platform before,” said Kershaw. “It’s not only possible [to curb health care costs long-term), the evidence is clear that will happen over time. When kids are being vulnerable in kindergarten, they’re more likely to fail, they’re more likely to go to jail and they’re more likely to wind up sick as adults in ways that are preventable now.”
Another symbolic shift Kershaw sees in this election is the NDP’s support for renters with its proposed refundable renter’s rebate of $400.
“Our lab reflected a lot on the NDP’s commitment of that $400 a year for renters,” said Kershaw. “On one hand, you have heard Christy Clark come up with a really great line at the leaders’ debate that $1 a day doesn’t make rent more affordable. And she’s right.”
But in this case – and with more than 50 per cent of Vancouverites already renting – it’s the thought that counts.
“For a long time, the majority of public subsidies for housing has gone primarily to home owners,” Kershaw said. “The $400 for renters is, to some degree, the NDP saying, ‘We’re going to level that playing field.’
“That is significant because going forward, more and more British Columbians, especially young British Columbians, are going to be renters.”