With the 2017 B.C. election just around the corner (Tuesday, May 9), we are taking a look at some of the key points of the B.C NDP’s election platform.
The B.C. NDP’s platform outlined their plan into three primary commitments: affordability, service and jobs/economy.
Taxes, Healthcare and BC Ferries
The B.C. NDP and party leader John Horgan have said they would get rid of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) fees; which they claim will save families as much as $1,800 a year.
In early April, the party said it would restore a tax bracket for incomes over $150,000, which was brought in temporarily in 2014 and 2015 by the Liberal government but was eliminated for 2016.
READ MORE: B.C. Liberals, NDP battle over future taxes
When it comes to corporate income tax, Horgan said the party plans to increase it by a percentage point from 11 to 12 per cent. While corporate income tax will tick up a point, the party plans to reduce the small business tax rate to two per cent, down from 2.5.
For ferry passengers, the NDP are looking to roll back the fares on small routes by 15 per cent, freeze fares on major routes, and return the seniors’ weekday discount.
The NDP says they will build affordable housing by raising funds with a two per cent tax on property owned by people who pay no income tax in B.C. and also extend the current foreign buyers tax to condo pre-sales.
The party says it would use the money generated to build 114,000 rental and co-op homes, and provide renters an annual rental home credit of $400.
The NDP also says it will introduce a $400 annual rebate for renters and make other changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, including accessibility and ‘renovictions’. The $400 grant would be per unit and all renters in B.C. would be eligible, regardless of income.
WATCH : B.C. NDP promises renter’s rebate
They would increase the time home care workers can spend with seniors, so seniors can stay in their own homes longer.
Mental Health and Healthcare
Horgan has promised to build a new hospital in Burnaby, B.C. with a price tag in the range of $1.2 billion. He said the money would come from a five-year, $10 billion capital investment plan that is part of the party’s platform. The new hospital would include a family urgent care centre, which Horgan said would reduce pressure on the hospital’s emergency room.
Also focusing on healthcare, the party would reduce costs of prescription drugs and advocate for a national Pharmacare program. Across the board, he says he would increase access to doctors, nurses and health practitioners and relieve the pressure on emergency rooms and reduce wait times.
WATCH: NDP announce plan to create urgent care centres in B.C.
Promises also include building urgent care centres; which would have more services than a walk-in clinic but not at the level of a hospital. Horgan did not outline a specific number but instead said they would start with a “handful” and go from there.
The party’s mental health plan promises to improve mental health and addictions services by creating a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions; implementing an “ask once, get help fast” approach as well as re-opening facilities at Riverview. In addition to that approach, Horgan said they would support and improve mental health access and services in the school system and take action on addressing the overdose crisis in B.C.
The NDP would eliminate tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges completely.
While their goal is to improve bridge use and reducing congestion, there’s no strategy in place for how bridges would be funded and how much money the elimination of the tolls would cost.
WATCH: Liberal and NDP dueling bridge toll promises
Families, Students and Education
Over the next 10 years, the NDP will bring in an affordable child-care system with a $1.5 billion a year price tag. Full-time childcare will be offered for $10/day, $7 for part-time and free for low-income families. These childcare rates would be covered through a tax on the wealthy.
For students, the party promises to “properly fund” classrooms and school equipment so fundraising would not be needed. They would replace portables with “real classrooms” and make all schools earthquake safe. As an extension of programming, they would expand B.C.’s apprenticeship and trades training.
For university students, Horgan plans to eliminate interest on student loans and provide students with a $1,000 completion grant.
The party would increase the minimum wage to $15/hour.
Jobs and Economy
Horgan has said his party would spark job creation with 96,000 construction jobs by building schools, hospitals, roads and rapid transit over the next five years.
The party promises to freeze BC Hydro rates and stop Christy Clark’s 42 per cent increase in ICBC rates.
When it comes to poverty, the NDP said they would develop and implement a comprehensive poverty reduction plan if elected. They also promised to raise welfare and disability rates by $100/month and allow people on disability to keep $200 more a month in earned income.
How will Horgan pay for all this?
For these promises and others, Horgan said they will increase operating costs by $3.5-billion over three years. He says the growing economy will generate $3-billion in new revenue for the provincial government, and he will cut some of what he calls “waste” in the Christy Clark government.
He also says the money will come through tax increases to the wealthy and to corporations and getting rid of what he calls “the Christy Clark LNG fantasy fund” will create new revenue, and $7-billion in new capital projects will spur the economy.
~ with files from CKNW