British Columbia

Help for seniors, ICBC rebates among Sunday election campaign promises

The leaders of both the Liberals and New Democrats have made seniors' care announcements that focus on keeping seniors in their homes longer, while the Greens pledge to help renters.

Liberals and NDP both focused on keeping seniors in their homes longer; Greens offer aid for renters

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson announced a tax credit for seniors' home care on Sunday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

The leaders of both the Liberals and New Democrats made seniors' care announcements in British Columbia's provincial election campaign on Sunday. 

Both party announcements focus on keeping seniors in their home longer, while the Liberals also added a plan to improve long-term care homes to its election platform.

While campaigning in North Vancouver on Sunday, Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson announced a $7,000 annual tax credit for seniors' at-home services and a $1-billion plan to replace and upgrade care homes.

The Liberal plan is similar to the $1.4-billion, 10-year capital plan the NDP announced Wednesday, although Wilkinson says his approach would mean all seniors will have single-person rooms in long-term care facilities over five years, not 10. Shared rooms have been blamed for the spread of the corona virus in Canada.

Langley Lodge registered the single highest pandemic death toll of any long-term care facility in B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Many long-term care homes in B.C. have been devastated by COVID-19 and Wilkinson says the tragedy can never happen again.

The Liberals promise that seniors would be eligible to claim 35 per cent of expenses on home support services like housekeeping and other handy work to allow them to live at home longer. The annual limit of eligible expenses would be $20,000, meaning seniors' could collect a maximum of $7,000 a year.

For seniors' whose annual income is over $60,000, the credit would be reduced by three per cent of the amount by which their income surpasses that level.

NDP Leader John Horgan, who's campaigning in Comox, B.C., announced expanded health-care education spaces and funding for seniors' home care, saying the former Liberal government rationed services and cut back on staff.

"COVID-19 has exposed the true cost of B.C. Liberal neglect to seniors' care,'' Horgan said in a statement.  "There are thousands in long-term care facilities right now who could be living safely at home with the proper support. We'll ensure they can do just that.''

NDP promises ICBC rebate

At a Sunday campaign stop in Vancouver, NDP candidate David Eby announced that his party would rebate profits ICBC made during the pandemic back to drivers.

Attorney General David Eby says drivers will get a COVID-19 rebate due to profits made during the pandemic. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

The Vancouver-Point Grey candidate said drivers would receive an ICBC COVID rebate cheque at the end of the insurance corporation's fiscal year. According to an NDP release, this would happen at the same time as drivers get an average 20 per cent rate reduction when ICBC shifts to a new system on May 1.

Green leader tackles housing affordability

The B.C. Greens promised to make life more affordable with a new rental support program that would ensure low- and moderate-income renters don't spend more than a third of their income on housing.

At a campaign event in Duncan, Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said her party would earmark $500 million for grants to renters over several months. She says the ongoing rental support would be different from the annual $400 rental rebate the NDP promised in the 2017 election.

"Instead of giving the same amount to everyone, it would be targeted based on income," she said. For example, she explained that a low- to moderate-income renter paying 45 per cent of their income would receive a grant to help them get their rent down to 30 per cent of their income.

Furstenau said renters are struggling the most to find affordable housing in their communities.

"In B.C., 43 per cent of renter households — 250,000 people — pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent," she said. "This is having significant adverse effects on peoples' mental health and wellbeing and makes it more difficult to save and plan for the future."

With files from CBC News

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