How will Cowichan Valley candidates address inequality and social supports?

We sent MLA candidates your election questions. Here’s what we heard.

“Given the inequities that have become apparent through COVID-19 what steps will you take to ensure that the least advantaged in our society are supported as we move forward?” That’s a question The Discourse heard from a resident of the Cowichan Valley riding after we launched a poll asking what you think should top the B.C. election agenda. 

Leading up to the election, we’re publishing candidates’ answers to questions from community members. You’ll find all our coverage in riding guides for Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Nanaimo, Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt Metchosin

As of Oct. 17, The Discourse has not received a response from BC Liberal Party candidate Tanya Kaul. We’ll update the story if we get one. Here are the responses from the other candidates.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Green Party

My focus is on health and wellbeing. We must recognize the issues we have now, that existed before COVID19 and have only been made worse by it. We will ensure that the least advantaged in our society are able to not only recover but thrive going forward.

We have released bold platform commitments that will guarantee all British Columbians are supported.

Parents raising young children today juggles long working hours and multiple demands on their time, as their household incomes stagnate, and housing costs skyrocket. We need to move beyond the 20th-century model of work life. We will introduce supports for young families, like up to $500 per month for families with children under 3 and a stay at home parent, and moving early childhood education (ECE) into the public education system by providing increased. For younger children, free access to ECE.

We have also announced our plan to invest $1 billion into increasing mental health care accessibility. Mental health care is failing at all levels, from early intervention for children and youth through to tertiary care for adults with complex psychological problems. The uncertainty and instability around the pandemic is placing increased psychological strain on us all, and it is compounding negative effects on those who were already in precarious situations beforehand.

For many even just a few appointments with a psychologist can significantly improve mental and physical health. By investing in mental health services at every stage of British Columbians’ lives we can, from the get-go, provide immediate support to the least advantaged in our community and ensure that they have a helping hand.

Unaffordability is having significant adverse effects on peoples’ mental health and wellbeing and makes it more difficult to save and plan for the future. Our renters’ program will help low and moderate income earners who are paying more than is affordable on their rent. This will ensure that having a roof over one’s head is no longer a daily concern in people’s lives.

Rob Douglas, BC NDP

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused pain and hardship for so many people, especially the most vulnerable people in our province. When the pandemic hit B.C., John Horgan and the BC NDP government took immediate action to prevent evictions for late and unpaid rent, so many people didn’t have to worry about losing their homes when they were already worried about losing their jobs. We also provided a $1,000 Emergency Benefit for Workers and crisis supplements for more than 200,000 people on disability or income assistance. 

Moving forward, the BC NDP platform includes a recovery benefit of $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals, a rent freeze to the end of 2021 and capping increases after that, and a renters rebate of $400 a year. We will continue to deliver a steady supply of new affordable homes and increase the number of supportive housing units so more people can have a safe, dry place to call home. We will also provide rent supplements for residents of supportive housing who are ready to move on to independent living, freeing up space in existing supportive housing. 

And it’s important to remember that we are now dealing with two public health emergencies: the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis. John Horgan and the BC NDP government will keep accelerating B.C.’s response to the opioid crisis, across the full continuum of care: prevention, harm reduction, safe prescription medications, treatment, and recovery. 

We have made a lot of progress on all of these fronts, and there is much more to do. As your MLA, I would work hard with John Horgan on these responses to make sure more people in the Cowichan Valley have the supports they need. 

Further reading: 

Visit the candidates’ websites: 

How do I vote?

  • Voting day is Saturday, Oct. 24, with advance polls Oct. 15 through Oct. 21. Visit Elections BC for information on where to go and what to bring. [end]

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