B.C. NDP platform promises benefit of up to $1,000 to families
A mostly stay-the-course platform also proposes a rent freeze and new medical school
The B.C. NDP would give families in the province up to $1,000 in a one-time recovery benefit if elected, the highlight of an election platform that mostly expands on policies made in their first term.
Leader John Horgan unveiled the party's platform at 10 a.m. PT, halfway through an election campaign in which polls show him in solid position to be re-elected in the Oct. 24 election — something no NDP leader has ever done.
The $1,000 recovery benefit would apply to families whose household income is under $125,000 (with reduced amounts for families making up to $175,000) and would give $500 to single people making under $62,000 (with reduced amounts for single people making under $87,000).
"I've always focused on making sure that those without voice, those without the wherewithal to buy what they need have a government that's focused on them," said Horgan.
Other key parts of the NDP's platform include:
- Free transit for children 12 and under
- A rent freeze until 2022 and a renter's rebate of $400 a year for households under $80,000 a year not already receiving rental support
- A second medical school in the province
In addition, Horgan said the government would make prescription contraception free, remove the PST on e-bikes, ban single-use plastics, widen Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley and work to get the Surrey SkyTrain extension to Langley.
To date, the NDP campaign has focused mostly on highlighting past policy decisions and re-announcing spending committed to in this year's budget, although they have promised new spending on senior care homes.
In 2017, the NDP's platform contained 122 promises with clear policy outcomes, 96 of which had been completed or were on their way to being finished when the election was called.
The party says its 2020 platform has 60 new promises, and 94 commitments to expand or continue existing programs and initiatives.
Planned in the last 2 weeks?
The announcement of a $1,000 rebate cheque comes three weeks after Horgan announced the province's economic recovery plan, which included $660 million in new tax incentives for businesses.
But Horgan denied the cheque for individuals was withheld for the purposes of electioneering.
"We did not contemplate this until we were putting together the platform, which was not until after the election was called," he argued.
"We put this together over the past couple of weeks, based on what we see as the needs of British Columbians."
In a news conference held hours after Horgan's announcement, B.C. Liberal candidate Jas Johal argued otherwise.
"I am skeptical this platform was put together the last two weeks. It shows the NDP has held back help for those that need it," he said.
"It's a naked attempt to bribe B.C. taxpayers with their own money."
The NDP's platform projects this year's deficit to expand from $12.8 billion to $15 billion as a result of its promises. The party says the promises would cost about $2.2 billion in 2020-21, $2 billion in 2021-22 and $2.7 billion in 2022-23.
The Liberals and Green Party are expected to release their platforms later this week, ahead of next Tuesday's election debate.
- A previous version of this story said the NDP platform promised to widen the Fraser Highway. In fact, the NDP has corrected its platform to promise to widen Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley.Oct 06, 2020 10:01 PM PT