After the historic win in 2013, when party leader Andrew Weaver won his seat in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, the party seems ready to flex some electoral muscle not seen by a third party since the 1996 election and is hoping for a fighting chance in a number of other ridings on Vancouver Island and around B.C.
In-depth: Coverage of the 2017 B.C. election
Here’s what the BC Green Party is promising on some of the big issues:
The Greens are promising to introduce measures to eliminate money laundering and property speculation, implement a provincial housing plan for affordable rental accommodation, invest up to $750 million per year to create approximately 4,000 units of affordable housing and update the Residential Tenancy Act to protect renters.
The party plans to establish a ministry responsible for healthy living, wellness and preventative medicine, as well as develop a program to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. The Greens also want to create a ministry for mental health and addictions, support seniors and others who need assistance to live in their own homes and add $100 million over four years to hire and support more social workers.
Bridge tolls have been a major point of contention in this election cycle with the BC NDP coming out to say they would eliminate tolls on two major bridges — the Port Mann and Golden Ears — and the Liberals promising to cap them in response.
The Greens, however, have taken a drastically different position, calling the proposals cynical electioneering.
“This is what’s wrong with politics,” Weaver said in a one-on-one interview with Global BC Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey on Wednesday. “You have the BC NDP literally trying to buy votes. Why didn’t they just hand out $10 bills out at a local mall south of the Fraser. And the Liberals realize where the NDP are going so they decide to cap it. Tolls are there to pay for infrastructure that you build.”
Weaver also said he would support the Mayors’ 10-Year Metro Vancouver Transportation Plan and mobility pricing.
“However, we need to get public transit options in place first and foremost.”
The party is also promising to suspend work on the Massey Tunnel replacement pending a comprehensive and transparent review of alternatives, increase transit funding by $25 million and support the transition to electric vehicles with new charging infrastructure.
While the BC NDP are pledging $10-a-day child care, the Greens are offering free daycare for children up to the age of three with working parents as well a free preschool for 3- and 4-year olds. The party is also offering up to $500/month for families with a stay-at-home parent and a child up to the age of two if they are elected.
Weaver plans to increase funding for the public education system to $1.5 billion over four years and invest $35 million into public education learning-readiness initiatives such as meal programs.
The party plans to provide $140 million over three years to train teachers to effectively deliver the new K-12 curriculum.
As far as post-secondary students are concerned, Weaver wants to implement needs-based grants and offer tax forgiveness of up to $2,000/year for up to five years to assist graduates in repaying their tuition debt.
Weaver has pledged to set up a Post-Secondary Education Task Force to identify ways, he says, to make post-secondary education more relevant, accessible and affordable.
The BC Green Party’s platform includes commitments facilitate modal switching, including through support for ride sharing, and car sharing.
Weaver introduced the Rideshare Enabling Act as a private member’s bill in April 2016 and again in February 2017 with, what the party says, “was the intention of starting a conversation about what legislation would best to meet the needs of British Columbians.”
In March, the BC Liberals promised to introduce ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft in B.C. by next Christmas. Weaver welcomed the announcement, but also said the government’s initiative is long overdue.
“I have been working on this issue for two years, not out of electoral calculation, but rather as a matter of principle. You cannot be considered a leader in technology if you are unwilling to embrace technology already in widespread use,” Weaver said at the time.
The Greens have also talked about establishing an Emerging Economy Task Force to address the changing nature of business and developing a new 10-year, integrated transportation plan focused on affordable, clean transportation for British Columbians.
Weaver is pledging to begin the transition to liveable incomes with an increase in Persons with Disabilities (PWD), income assistance and shelter allowance rates.
He wants to introduce a basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of foster care.
The party also plans to establish an arm’s length fair wages commission to recommend a new minimum wage and oversee regular rate reviews.
Finally, Weaver plans to eliminate Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums by rolling them into the payroll tax and personal income tax.
The full BC Green Party platform is available on their website.
— With files from Keith Baldrey