B.C.'s three main political parties and their supporters have competing visions for the province. Here’s where they stand, in alphabetical order, on the campaign’s pressing issues.
The Greens promise to end provincial subsidies to oil and gas companies and redirect roughly a billion dollars in savings toward businesses that will help B.C. become carbon-neutral in the next 25 years.
The party would also put $300-million toward a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses.
The party would also consult with industry players and unions to explore allowing employers to adopt a four-day work week while their workers remain full-time employees with benefits. The Greens would also begin transitioning B.C. to a universal basic income. The party would restart the work of the Fair Wages Commission to recommend predictable minimum-wage increases and the party would phase in a basic-income plan for people 18-24 who are aging out of foster care.
The Greens would overhaul the provincial grant program to help small tourism businesses decimated by COVID-19 and work with Ottawa to create a new loan program for larger hospitality and tourism companies in trouble.
The party promises to stimulate the economy with a $30.9-billion infrastructure plan over the next three years that would build roads, hospitals, health and mental health clinics, nursing homes and affordable housing. The Liberals would also do away with the Community Benefits Agreement so that these projects would be open to bidding from companies whose workers are not unionized.
The Liberals would spend $1.1-billion to create a system of $10-a-day child care for families earning up to $65,000. Daycare spots would also be available for up to $30-a-day for families making up to $125,000 a year. Their plan would also build 10,000 new child-care spaces. The party says it would also offer a loan-guarantee program for tourism and hospitality businesses.
The New Democrats pledge to invest $400-million into community infrastructure projects and a further $300-million in recovery grants to support roughly 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses facing hardship through the pandemic.
The NDP is also promising a cash payout of $1,000 to families making less than $125,000 a year and $500 to single people earning less than $62,000. The party would also offer training programs to help more workers transition to jobs that are needed.
Once the minimum wage hits $15 per hour next year the New Democrats pledge to tie further increases to the rate of inflation. The NDP would also help gig workers with precarious employment by creating a system of government-backed benefits for them. The New Democrats say they would get funding from Ottawa to increase the number of parents taking advantage of their $10-a-day child-care pilot program.
The Greens say they would form a task force to modernize employment standards and reduce inequality with an eye to working with Ottawa to make multinational companies pay their “fair share” of provincial taxes.
The party would also immediately reinstate the scheduled carbon tax increase put on hold by the NDP to keep adding $10 per year to the levy.
The party’s landmark tax promise is to eliminate the 7-per-cent provincial sales tax for one year and then bring it back at 3 per cent to stimulate an economic recovery. The Liberals have also promised to permanently drop the 2-per-cent small business income tax.
The party would end the speculation and vacancy tax, which penalizes people who own homes in several real estate hot spots that are not their principal residence or rented out for half the year as well as foreign owners or satellite families who pay little to no taxes in Canada. The Liberals would replace that levy with a capital gains tax on investors who flip condos. The Liberals would also increase property taxes for non-residents.
The party would establish an arm’s-length “fair tax commission” so that economic experts can review taxes and identify which ones could spur economic growth if they were reduced or eliminated.
The New Democrats are positing only a few tweaks, such as doubling the “climate action” tax credits to everyone in the province as well as striking a task force to determine a new tax break for film and TV productions shooting in B.C.
Balancing the budget
The Greens' platform says “now is not the time for austerity” and doesn’t mention balancing the budget. They say some of their three-year $10-billion plan to recover from the pandemic will be offset by new revenue sources and savings brought on by the party’s policies.
The party is committing to pass a budget in 2022 that charts a path to balancing the budget after a vaccine has started repairing the disruption created by COVID-19.
The New Democrats are only pledging to balance the budget once the economy rebounds and people are “back on their feet” after the pandemic, noting the current tumult has already created a projected operating deficit of $12.8-billion this year.
Climate and the environment
The Greens would make B.C. carbon neutral in the next 25 years and ban all fracking in the province. They would also help communities adapt to climate change and mitigate the risk of natural disasters with a four-year $100-million fund. The party says it would work with Ottawa, First Nations, local communities and the salmon-farming industry to create incentives aimed at ending open-net aquaculture and transitioning to land-based fish farming.
The party would support investment in renewable energy and work with the federal government and other provinces to improve carbon capture technology, but has not set a date to become carbon neutral. They would also craft a comprehensive greenhouse gas strategy that reduces these emissions while enabling liquid natural gas and other resource development industries to continue. The Liberals plan to accelerate the provincial review and approval process for LNG export projects by collaborating with First Nations groups.
The party also pledges to cut the permit processing time for prospective mines in half. The Liberals would also increase funding to the silviculture industry to plant more trees across the province. The party says it would work with Ottawa to review the scheduled increases to the carbon tax given the economic recession.
The NDP says it has a plan to make the province carbon neutral over the next 30 years and invest in technologies that capture these emissions. The party says it can balance the LNG export industry – including the coming $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal – with its economic, environmental, social and reconciliation commitments. The NDP would also ban disposable plastic products.
The Greens say they want to increase the number of beds available to ailing seniors, but their platform doesn’t have a target for funding this expansion. In contrast to its two rivals, the party says it plans to immediately begin shifting public funding away from private companies running nursing homes for profit. The Greens also want to require that all operators in the sector undergo annual inspections as well as provide financial statements and audited expense reports.
The party is pledging to add a billion more dollars into the sector to refurbish or build new facilities with single suites over the next five years. The party says this money would be available to public, non-profit and private nursing home operators, but could not estimate how many new beds this would create.
The Liberals would also launch an independent review into how and why long-term care homes and assisted living facilities have been hit so hard by COVID-19. The party also wants to create a tax credit of up to $7,000 a year to help seniors offset the cost of care they receive in their own home.
The New Democrats would add $1.4-billion over the next decade to build publicly owned long-term care homes and eliminate shared rooms from existing sites owned and operated by local health authorities. Like the Liberals, the party could not say how many new units of this type of housing it plans to create. The party would also hire 7,000 more health care workers for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The Greens say they would invest $1.9-billion over three years into a range of affordable, supportive and social housing projects, in part by creating a capital fund to support the acquisition and maintenance of affordable rental units by nonprofits. The party would also create a land bank for new co-op housing projects and help extend the leases of existing co-ops that are about to expire.
The party would help renters by introducing a means-tested grant for those with low and medium wages putting more than 30 per cent of their incomes toward rent – the consensus threshold for a lease being unaffordable. To help condo owners confront spiking strata insurance rates, the party would convene a task force of owners, insurers and their brokers to find ways to bring down costs.
The party is committing to a three-year $1.75-billion capital plan to build more homes people can afford. The Liberals would also create an incentive fund for cities to boost housing supply and work with communities to review and reform the property tax structure to build more affordable units and tamp down speculation.
The party would also overhaul the way residential and commercial rental properties have their value assessed to make leases more affordable. The Liberals plan to bring changes to B.C.'s Building Code to make properties more accessible and energy efficient as well as help condo owners fight exorbitant strata insurance premiums. On that front, the party also says it would bring these insurance premiums down by allowing stratas to insure themselves, eliminating the “best-terms” pricing model and mandating strata buildings only need to be insured to a level in line with their history of claims costs.
The New Democrats say they would use provincial money and partnerships with Ottawa, cities, non-profits and private developers to continue building the 114,000 new units of affordable housing promised in a 10-year plan announced prior to forming the government. Earlier this year, Housing Minister Selina Robinson told The Globe just 4,300 of those homes had been completed, with almost half of those units representing temporary modular housing and supportive housing.
The party has committed to freezing rents until the end of next year to help people struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. It has also asked the BC Financial Services Authority to put forward ways to corral ballooning strata insurance fees. If these rates have not “corrected” by the end of 2021, the NDP would give condo owners a public strata insurance option similar to Saskatchewan’s system.
They would also give renters the $400-a-year stipend the party promised during the previous campaign, but never implemented, so people who don’t own their home get something equal to the homeowner grant.
The party would increase the safe supply of opioids and other street drugs now poisoned and sold in the underground drug trade. The Greens would do this by working to encourage more doctors and pharmacists to take part in the program that gives users non-toxic substances. The Greens would also fund more ways to give people access to these safer drugs, including setting up more secure vending machines.
The Greens' other major drug policy plank would be to de facto decriminalize these substances in B.C.
The Liberals promise to view illicit drug addiction and its myriad social ills through a medical lens. They do not support decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of illicit substances because they view that as federal responsibility, but say they would focus on giving people a pathway to recovery. The party would increase funding for treatment and recovery programs.
The New Democrats would ramp up prescriptions to increase the safe supply of drugs and replace the toxic forms of these substances found on the street. The party is non-committal on embracing de-facto decriminalization in the province, but says it would work with police chiefs to put pressure on Ottawa to amend the federal drug laws.
To stop those hurt on the job from developing addictions, the party would mandate that WorkSafeBC provide immediate treatment to those workers suffering chronic pain after a workplace injury. The New Democrats also promise to step up oversight of private recovery homes and to build new treatment and detox facilities.
The Greens say they would not allow the long-term losses from the pandemic to affect the service levels of TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries. The party also promises that COVID-19 would not disrupt any transit expansion projects already in the works.
The Greens also want to work with municipal and regional governments to redesign the way transit is funded with an eye toward mobility, or road, pricing. They would create a regional body to streamline the transit options across Victoria and the other cities on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The party also promises to bring BC Ferries back under control of the province as a Crown corporation.
The Liberals have a host of promises on major transit infrastructure, including reviving their pledge from the previous campaign to replace the George Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta with a 10-lane bridge with dedicated lanes for buses and multipassenger vehicles.
The Liberals would support TransLink’s expansion of its grid into North Vancouver and south of the Fraser River into the communities of the Fraser Valley, but do not commit to funding any concrete projects. The party says it would widen the TransCanada Highway east through the Fraser Valley to ease the commuting nightmare that often develops when the route drops to two lanes each way in Abbotsford.
The NDP’s major transit-related pledge is to extend the SkyTrain system from Surrey to Langley. Earlier this month, Leader John Horgan said, if re-elected, his government would make that expansion a priority and commit $1.5-billion to the project and lobby the federal government to chip in the rest of the money needed.
The party would make all public transit trips free for children 12 and under. Like the Liberals, the New Democrats would widen Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley by 2026. On Vancouver Island, the NDP is promising to improve bus service between cities.
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