B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix has promised to create a family bonus program for low and moderate income families, if his party is elected in May.
Speaking at a campaign stop in Vancouver, Dix said he would give families, including those on social assistance and employment insurance, up to $70 per month per child, lifting an estimated 8,400 children out of poverty.
For a single parent with one child earning $25,000 per year or less, it would amount to an extra $829 per year. A couple with two children earning $50,000 total would be eligible for $329 per year. Families earning up to $66,000 would be eligible for smaller amounts.
Party officials said the family bonus program was like "B.C.'s version of a modern day family allowance".
He said an NDP government would also raise welfare rates for singles and couples by $20 per month in their second year of government, and immediately tie all welfare rates to the rate of inflation.
The NDP would also immediately double the earning exemptions for employable people on welfare and allow a child maintenance exemption, and hire an additional 130 frontline social workers for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The entire program is expected to cost $558 million over three years. Dix said it would be paid for by moving funding from the Liberals' early childhood tax benefit, an income tax hike on corporations and higher income earners, expansion of the carbon tax and a new tax on banks.
Liberal's call promises reckless
Dix made the promise while campaigning in the Vancouver-Langara riding of Liberal Social Development Minister Moira Stilwell.
Since the election began on Tuesday, Dix has made a point of announcing specific NDP campaign planks in the ridings of Liberal ministers who have handled those portfolios.
Stilwell issued a statement calling the promises reckless.
"In one fell swoop, Adrian Dix has spent another $558 million dollars on his uncosted, undetailed PowerPoint Platform," said Stilwell's statment.
"With his latest PowerPoint Platform announcement, Adrian Dix has surpassed the $2 billion dollar mark in reckless campaign spending promises."
During a speech last night in Sidney, Dix mocked Liberal claims that New Democrats are not revealing their post-election plans, saying over the last two days he has rolled out policies ranging from skills training to daycare and education, proving the party has a plan.
Clark still seeking one-on-one debate
Meanwhile, B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark promised a crowd in Terrace more money for resources communities if she is re-elected.
Clark says a rural dividend program would give money back to communities that are resource producers.
"What happens is we negotiate some benefit back to the community so that they can pave the roads that are getting beat up by the trucks that go through their communities to support industry, so they can build the community centres so we can attract families to go and live and work in those communities," said Clark.
The money would come from a Prosperity Fund, based on revenue from future LNG projects, Clark says.
Clark also urged New Democrats to "bring it on" last night as she rallied party faithful in Prince George. Clark — who continues to call for a one-on-one debate with Dix — told Prince George residents he appears ashamed about B.C.'s resources.
Liberals are anxious to retain the two Prince George ridings — the heartland of much of B.C.'s resource sector — and she assured residents she is proud of the history of resource extraction, saying the province can't do without Prince George.
Clark continues her northern tour today with stops in Terrace, Port Edward and Prince Rupert, before returning to Richmond for a rally tonight.
Conservatives add candidates
Nine more Conservative hopefuls have been approved for ridings all across B.C., as the party cements its list of candidates for the May 14 election.
Conservative Leader John Cummins says candidates have been approved in ridings from Kamloops and Penticton to a handful around Metro Vancouver, bringing the total number of candidates to 55.
Meanwhile, Cummins continues a low-key campaign in his Langley riding and also joins the Delta candidate for some door knocking in that constituency.
Cummins also has a meeting this morning with the Langley Teachers' Association and attends a barbecue fundraiser in North Delta tonight.
British Columbians head to the polls to elect a new government on May 14.