B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau released her platform for the Oct. 24 election Wednesday, including changes to the province’s social assistance program to move toward a “basic income transition” in the future.
The first step would be making the temporary additional $300 COVID-19 crisis supplement added to social assistance and disability assistance permanent, and establish a 12-month period for recipients to make additional money without having it deducted from support payments. The Greens also want income assistance to be tied to inflation, and to eliminate the “asset test” that requires people to sell possessions such as vehicles to be eligible.
“Our social assistance programs do not lift people out of poverty, they actually entrench them,” Furstenau said at a campaign event in New Westminster Oct. 14.
Furstenau called for school district funding to be kept at the 2019-20 level, as schools deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and a transition to home and online learning that is affecting enrolment. She said districts are laying off teachers due to the pandemic, at a time when they need to adapt to the changes it has imposed on them.
Building on an earlier campaign promise, the platform pledges to provide $300 million in new funding to “begin the phase-in of up to 25 hours free early childhood education programs per week for three and four-year-olds, rising to $550 million as capacity expands.”
The platform confirms previously announced Green promises, including a plan to phase out public funding of for-profit long-term care facilities. NDP leader John Horgan adopted a similar position after Furstenau raised the issue in the election’s only televised debate Oct. 13.
The plan includes a rental support program for people paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent, and an extension of leases for housing co-ops that are about to expire. That would lead to the creation of a land bank for new co-ops, and a capital fund to support acquisition and maintenance of rental housing by non-profits.