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BC Liberals release platform with promise to allow ICBC competition, cut PST for a year

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson removes his face mask before speaking during a campaign stop in Vancouver, on Saturday, September 26, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on October 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson removes his face mask before speaking during a campaign stop in Vancouver, on Saturday, September 26, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on October 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck.

The BC Liberals have released a full election platform made up mainly of promises already made on the campaign trail.

An elected BC Liberal government would completely eliminate the PST for a year and then set it at 3 per cent in the second year. The Liberals are estimating the promise will cost $6.88 billion in the first year.

The Liberals are also committing to opening up ICBC to competition, promising to end the public insurer’s monopoly so drivers can pick from different coverage options. Part of the ICBC plan includes giving all new drivers credit for up to four years of driving experience when they demonstrate safe driving habits.

“This will result in significantly lower premiums for new drivers with clean records who demonstrate safe driving habits and will be available to both new drivers with their own policies and parents with children listed as occasional drivers,” the platform reads.

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Read more: B.C. election 2020: Find your riding and candidates

Click to play video 'B.C. Election 2020: Breaking down the latest polling ahead of leaders’ debate' B.C. Election 2020: Breaking down the latest polling ahead of leaders’ debate
B.C. Election 2020: Breaking down the latest polling ahead of leaders’ debate – Oct 13, 2020

The Liberals are committing to a number of significant measures in the first 60 days in office if elected. This includes establishing a new Economic Response Plan and the appointment of an independent Fair Tax Commission. The commission would review all provincial taxes, including the new ones brought in by the NDP.

The party is promising to review fixed election date legislation to limit the ability of a premier to call snap elections and would ban the ability to call an election during a provincial emergency.

In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberals are promising the creation of an emergency Pandemic Response Committee. The committee would work with Dr. Bonnie Henry and accelerate provincial aid for small businesses.

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“British Columbians are deeply concerned about their future and we need strong, disciplined leadership to get us through this once-in-a-century challenge,” Wilkinson said.

“British Columbia was once a place of incredible opportunity — the plan we are introducing today will help get us through this pandemic and back to a place where everyone feels they belong and where everyone has a chance to succeed and get ahead.”

The Liberals have been highly critical of the government’s back to school plan and are proposing a province-wide framework for hybrid and online learning options. The party will also restore $12 million in cuts from Independent Distributed Learning programs.

Read more: B.C. election 2020 promise tracker: What the major parties are pledging

The two major election promises have had varied success with the electorate so far. In a poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News, the ICBC promise was the most impactful tested, with six-in-ten residents calling the promise important. The promise to scrap the PST for a year is seen as less significant, with 51 per cent of voters calling it important.

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has focused a lot of the campaign on community safety looking to take advantage of rising cases of theft in Metro Vancouver’s urban cores.

An elected Liberal government would increase funding for public safety by $58 million, to increase resources for police and prosecutors.

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Read more: B.C. election 2020 promise tracker: What the major parties are pledging

Wilkinson is promising to increase addiction-treatment and recovery programs while working to restrict camping in urban parks.

Unlike the previous Liberal government, Wilkinson has committed to massive investments in subsidized childcare and vowing to streamline long wait-lists for care spaces. The party is proposing a means-tested childcare program, starting with families making $65,000 less being eligible for $10-a-day care.

Additional Promises

  • Building a 10-lane Massey Bridge to replace the aging Massey Tunnel.
  • Create a full Ministry of Child Care
  • Increase affordability for in vitro fertilization
  • Free influenza vaccines for all British Columbians
  • Increasing online booking of medical appointments
  • Increase mental health supports in public post secondary schools