Do election candidates in Esquimalt-Metchosin support a basic, minimum income? 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. Our goal is to put you in the driver’s seat of the election conversation because we believe you should guide it, not the candidates or parties.
Leading up to the election we’re publishing answers to questions you sent.
As of Oct. 12, The Discourse received answers from two of the four candidates via email. BC Liberal Party candidate RJ Senko will not be responding to questions due to his full schedule, according to a spokesperson from the BC Liberal team. The Discourse reached out to Independent candidate Desta McPherson over Facebook – since no other contact information could be found – but has not heard back yet. This story will be updated if additional responses come in.
I’ll be rotating the candidates’ order of responses with each story we publish. Here are their responses. I’ve copied them directly from the emails they sent.
Andy MacKinnon, BC Green Party
The Green Party in government pushed the government to implement a Fair Wages commission that will actually raise the minimum wage above the NDP promise of $15 per hour. We should certainly investigate the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a minimum, basic income.
Mitzi Dean, BC New Democratic Party
Every worker in B.C. deserves to make a fair wage for their work. Since the BC NDP formed government in 2017, we have raised the minimum wage from $11.35 an hour to $14.60 today. It is scheduled to increase again to $15.20 per hour on June 1, 2021.
Starting with Budget 2018, we committed $4 million over two years to fund a comprehensive study on how a basic income concept might work in the B.C. context. The panel is focusing research on the existing income support system and how the principles of a basic income could be used to enhance it.
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.
The BC Green Policy, published on the party’s website, says it “supports a livable income for all British Columbians” and supports resolving the “discrepancy between the minimum wage and a livable wage.” Although the website says a full platform will be released soon, announcements about it can be found on the BC Green Party website.
The BC NDP’s website lists a series of commitments as the party’s platform, which include affordability and security. Information on the basic income study that Dean references above can be found online as well.
In July, the National Observer reported that the then BC NDP government would “welcome talks” with the federal government about basic income.
Issues that the BC Liberal Party pledges to tackle can be found on the party’s website as well and include topics like affordable housing and the economy.
A platform for independent candidate Desta McPherson could not be found.