NDP promises new recovery benefit as part of 2020 platform
Recovery, affordability and security are top issues in the NDP’s re-election platform, which proposes to spend $6.9 billion over the next three years — not including capital costs.
“It lays out a vision for British Columbia that focuses on people and the services that they need to make sure that we come out of the pandemic stronger than we went in,” NDP Leader John Horgan said.
The NDP platform claims the new spending would push B.C.’s deficit up an additional $2.2 billion to a total of $15 billion this year.
All told, the platform contains 154 promises — 60 are described as new, 55 are expansions of existing programs and 39 are pledges to stay the course on various initiatives.
Recovery: benefit and investment
The NDP is promising a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit for families with an annual household income up to $125,000.
Households making up to $175,000 would also receive the benefit on a sliding scale while single people earning less than $62,000 would get a $500 benefit with sliding scale eligibility up to $87,000.
All told, the recovery benefit is expected to cost $1.5 billion.
“[It’s] putting money into the pockets of those families who need it the most,” Horgan said. “Those are the people who are struggling right now, those are the people who need to have those extra dollars to make sure they can get by, not just through the pandemic but into the recovery period.”
Horgan denied that the $1,000 perk was left out of the pandemic economic recovery plan, telling reporters the NDP platform was put together “after the election was called.”
The NDP is also promising to invest one per cent of B.C.’s GDP — estimated at $3 billion per year — into new capital projects over the next three years for a total of $9 billion. The spending would be on top of the $23 billion laid out in Budget 2020.
“This plan will create 18,000 jobs a year and put people back to work who’ve been affected by COVID-19,” Horgan said.
New commitments focus on affordability, housing and health care
A new medical school, free transit for kids under 12 and a rent freeze through 2021 are some of the new commitments from the NDP campaign.
B.C. currently has just one medical program — offered through the University of British Columbia with branches in Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George. Horgan said the site for a new one would be chosen following discussions with post-secondary institutions and suggested “a hub and spoke model” would be “the best way forward.”
The freeze on rent — announced in the spring and extended until December 2020 — would be extended through the end of 2021 and annual rent increases would then be tied to the rate of inflation (something the NDP is also proposing for minimum wage increases once the province’s minimum wage hits $15 next June).
Landlords will be able to recoup costs for “investments in suites” and units, according to Horgan.
The NDP platform also promises:
A secretariat to oversee the work of bringing provincial laws in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
Making the Ministry of Education responsible for child care;
Developing a new system of complex care housing for people who “need more intensive care than supportive housing provides”;
Income-tested incentives for electric vehicle purchases;
A provincial ban on single-use plastics; and
Widening the Fraser Highway by 2026.
While the platform proclaims 60 new commitments, voters are likely to recognize a few.
The $400 renters’ rebate promised by the NDP in 2017 is back — this time with income-testing. Renters earning up to $80,000 and not receiving other forms of rental support would be eligible.
The NDP platform also opened the door to public strata insurance, promising to develop a public option for B.C. “if rates have not corrected by the end of 2021.”
Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said many of the platform’s promises “exactly mirror what was in the letter and the proposal” she sent to the NDP leader three days before he called the snap election.
“All of the proposals that are in the NDP platform today could have been worked on right now in the legislature,” she said. “There was no reason to trigger this election. We were ready to work on all of those proposals.”