Pauline Greaves, BC NDP, Surrey South
1) The City of Surrey’s decision to transition to a municipal police force has raised concerns among constituents over costs and transparency. How would you address these? Is a public referendum the answer?
A: The Police Act states that municipalities with more than 5,000 people have the responsibility for decisions about policing in their communities. That is why we believe that concerns about Surrey’s decision to change policing must be addressed by the city council. The role of the provincial government is to ensure that public safety is maintained.
The BC Liberal leader has been muddying the waters by being unclear about what he would actually do. Andrew Wilkinson suggested he would hold a referendum, but he won’t say if it would be advisory or binding until after the election. He said: “That has to be determined because obviously you gotta figure out exactly what the question is first and you gotta figure out what the information is which will drive the question.”
Wilkinson has no clear position, while his Surrey candidate, Stephanie Cadieux, has stated it is a municipal decision. The Liberals have no clear position and are only using this as a political issue for there own interest.
2) COVID-19 has exposed some cracks in the system with regard to seniors’ health – particularly those in long-term care. What approach would you favour in dealing with this?
A: This pandemic exposed the true cost of BC Liberal cuts to seniors care: They changed laws to allow privatization and cuts, staff were underpaid and forced to work in multiple facilities, and private care homes were pocketing profits instead of maintaining adequate care levels. All this contributed to outbreaks, making the pandemic worse, and putting too many seniors at risk.
We are fixing the problems the BC Liberals left behind. We ended multi-facility staffing, put over $1 billion toward seniors care over three years, and we are hiring 7,000 new health care workers to ensure seniors get the care they need and deserve. We will build more public long-term care homes, ensure every senior can have a private room, and hold private facilities to account.
This will ensure that we are never again in this position where our love ones are exposed to unsafe living conditions.
3) What is the best path to take in helping B.C. and the Semiahmoo Peninsula in its economic recovery, and for supporting business during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: The BC NDP government has taken action to keep people safe and get them the help they needed. As we begin to recover, we need to create growth that raises the standard of living of everybody.
John Horgan and the BC NDP will continue to support small businesses while making sure people can access good, sustainable jobs. The Stronger BC – economic recovery plan – will help us achieve this through targeted investments in jobs and skills training; a 15% refundable tax credit on new payroll to help businesses grow and rehire; and a $300 million grant program for small- and medium-sized business to protect jobs in the hardest hit industries.
There is still more to do, and the BC NDP will keep supporting people through the recovery and address gaps the pandemic has exposed, so we emerge more resilient than before.
4) What would you like to see done to improve educational facilities, and to address ongoing school overcrowding, in the riding?
A: Quality education is essential to the growth and sustainability of our economy and it is more important than ever that we invest in our kids and give them the opportunities for the future they deserve. For 16 years, the BC Liberals fought teachers in court and refused to build schools in growing communities. Only one new school was built in Surrey in the last three years of the BC Liberal government.
John Horgan and our BC NDP team have different priorities. We have invested over $403 million in new schools, expansions and seismic upgrades in Surrey. These historic investments are helping get 8,900 students out of portables by 2023. Under the BC NDP more than 18 new schools, additions or seismic upgrades have been funded or completed since 2018. Class sizes are now lower than they have been in a decade and parents no longer need to fundraise for new playgrounds.
There is a lot more to be done to meet the needs of our growing population.
• ALSO RUNNING IN SURREY SOUTH:
5) What is/are the most pressing environmental concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: Climate change poses the number one threat to our way of life and our economy. By working across party lines over the past three years, our party restored B.C.’s leadership on climate change with our CleanBC plan. It’s a plan that ensures we are doing our part on climate change while building a stronger and more resilient economy to seize the many opportunities that come with the global shift to a lower carbon future.
Water protection is also fundamentally important. We are banning single-use plastics and creating a watershed security strategy to better protect local watersheds for the public good. Part of this will be establishing a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous, local, and regional clean water initiatives that will create good, sustainable, local jobs for British Columbians in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, and education.
At the same time, we are increasing protection of wildlife and critical habitats, protecting more of BC’s old-growth forests, and making polluters pay for cleanup of abandoned industrial projects.
Sea level change is a direct threat to the people of Surrey South, and I will work with regional and local governments to mitigate and protect our farmlands and infrastructure.
6) Strata dwellers in B.C. saw a sharp rise in their insurance rates over a single year, with Metro Vancouver residents seeing an average increase of more than 50 per cent. Has the current government done enough to address this issue. If not, what other steps should be taken?
A: We have begun tackling this problem by closing loopholes in strata insurance, beefing up regulatory powers, and tasking the BC Financial Services Authority to investigate and find new ways to help bring insurance costs down.
But if rates are not corrected by the end of 2021, we will develop a public strata insurance option.
7) Transportation continues to be a concern for local commuters. What can and should be done at a provincial level to help relieve gridlock?
A: We will work with the federal government and the municipal and regional governments to complete the Skytrain expansion project to Langley and add new rail and rapid bus lines.
The BC NDP’s plans for the new, toll-free crossing at the Massey are well underway, with government on track for final approval by the end of the year. The BC Liberals preferred option would turn Richmond into a parking lot. We have worked to get it right for people who live in all the affected cities, and with commitment form the federal government.
The toll-free Massey replacement has approval from the mayors and will involve two designated lanes for TransLink. In the meantime, we are engaging in upgrades to the surrounding roads and interchanges.
We will also work with Surrey to expand its active transportation network as we move towards our CleanBC goal of doubling trips taken via walking, biking and other kinds of active networks by the year 2030.
8) What is/are the most pressing health care concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: The people of Surrey deserve better access to healthcare, closer to home.
Our plan includes a new hospital for Surrey, complete with a regional cancer centre. We recently announced the purchase of a new site. If re-elected, a BC NDP government will get the job done.
The last time Andrew Wilkinson sat around a cabinet table, he sold land meant for a new hospital in Surrey to a BC Liberal donor—for $3 million less than it was worth. The Liberals now have a plan to build a new hospital in Surrey/Cloverdale that we have waited for and they have denied us for years.
Our plan will reduce wait times for surgeries, diagnostics and other procedures. Under the BC Liberals, we had a single MRI machine that was operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Under John Horgan’s NDP government, there we now have ten.
We are also building more community-based Urgent Primary Care Centres, including two in Surrey. We are investing in more e-health and tele-health services as part of our Hospital at Home initiative.
9) Would you support a cap on the percentage increase in rent/lease rates that commercial landlords in B.C. could impose upon tenants in a single year? Why or why not?
A: We have been fighting hard for BC businesses struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic hit. John Horgan and Carole James were leading voices pushing the federal government to make changes to its commercial rent support program when it was clear it was not getting to many of the BC businesses that needed it most. By working with other provinces to engage the federal government, we now have a new federal commercial rent subsidy will pay up to 65% of eligible expenses. Unlike the previous policy, which required landlords to subscribe to the program, this rent subsidy will be paid directly to tenants.
We will continue to support small and medium sized businesses through our Economic Recovery Plan. We have no plans to cap commercial rent increases at this time but will monitor the issue of commercial rent affordability going forward and take further action to support BC businesses as needed.