Will Cowichan Valley candidates support a minimum income?

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

Will election candidates in the Cowichan Valley commit to working to quickly introduce a minimum basic income, accessible to all? That’s a question we at The Discourse heard from you after we launched a poll asking what you think should top the B.C. election agenda. 

Leading up to the election, we’re publishing answers to questions from this community. 

As of Oct. 12, The Discourse has not received a response from BC Liberal Party candidate Tanya Kaul. We’ll update the story if we get one.

Rob Douglas, BC New Democratic Party

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty for people. They are worried about how they will pay their rent and bills. The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in how our economy works. For too long, our economy has been working for people at the top, and not for everyone. But people are our economy. As long as we invest in the health and wellness of people, we can build a strong recovery for all British Columbians. 

Under the BC Liberals, wages stopped growing while the cost of living skyrocketed. The BC Liberals took money from BC Hydro and ICBC to fund their tax breaks for the rich – and rates increased for regular people. MSP doubled and housing costs squeezed people out of the market. The BC Liberals proved that they are in it to help multimillionaires and leave everyone else behind. 

John Horgan and the BC NDP have increased the minimum wage in a predictable and measured way, from $11.35 in 2017 to at least $15.20 by 2021. Right now it is $14.60. In three years, we eliminated MSP fees and increased income assistance for the first time in a decade. We created 60,000 jobs and had the lowest unemployment in Canada. And our election platform includes a recovery benefit of $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals. 

Starting with Budget 2018, the BC NDP government committed $4 million over two years to fund a comprehensive study on how a basic income concept might work in B.C. In the context of COVID-19, the expert panel released a preliminary opinion in May on the complexity of establishing a basic income versus temporary benefits provided by governments during the pandemic. The final report with recommendations is expected in December 2020.

I am committed to working alongside John Horgan in a BC NDP government to continue this work and implement a system that will work best for people now during the pandemic – and into the future. 

Sonia Furstenau, BC Green Party

Extending a minimum basic income to all British Columbians is an effective tool to eliminate poverty and the costs associated with it. 

In 2017 we campaigned to conduct a basic income pilot and implement basic income for youth transitioning out of care in BC. Because we were sure to include it in the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the NDP, we convened a Basic Income Expert Panel, which will release their final report later this year. We are looking forward to the results of the expert report to inform us on how to move forward with basic income in an evidence-based way.

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