VANCOUVER — The New Democrats are promising a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit for families and $500 for individuals as part of an election platform that largely banks on voters wishing to stay the course.
Leader John Horgan unveiled his party’s platform during an event in Vancouver Tuesday and said it builds on progress already underway during the NDP government’s 3 1/2-year term.
Additional pledges include a rent freeze until the end of next year, an expansion of $10-a-day daycare and the creation of British Columbia’s second medical school at a location that has yet to be determined.
“Today’s platform includes 154 commitments, 60 of which are brand new, the rest building on the work we’ve already started,” Horgan said.
“We have three basic priorities: better health care for you and your family, affordability and security in your home and in your community, and good jobs and livelihoods in a clean-energy future.”
The platform promises would push the anticipated $12.8-billion deficit this year to $15 billion.
They would cost about $2.2 billion in 2020-21, $2 billion in 2021-22 and $2.7 billion in 2022-23.
An additional $3 billion would be spent each year on a new Recovery Investment Fund to build schools, hospitals and other capital projects.
“This plan will create 18,000 jobs a year and put people back to work who have been affected by COVID-19,” Horgan said.
The new recovery benefit would come in the form of a one-time $1,000 direct deposit to families whose household income is under $125,000 annually, with a sliding scale up to $175,000. Single people earning less than $62,000 annually would be eligible for $500, with a sliding scale up to $87,000.
Horgan called the election just days after releasing his government’s $1.5-billion economic recovery plan. However, he denied intentionally leaving the recovery benefit out of the plan so that he could save it as a campaign promise.
“We did not contemplate this until after we were putting together the platform, which was not until after the election was called,” he said.
Horgan accused the B.C. Liberals of giving tax breaks to the rich and said the NDP benefit would help those who need it most while stimulating local economic activity.
Instead of putting it in an offshore tax haven, Horgan said those who receive it will spend it at small businesses and in their communities.
“I think this is prudent economics and it makes sense right now,” he said.
Additional promises in the plan include free transit for kids up to 12, free prescription contraceptives for all and the return of the renter’s rebate for households earning up to $80,000 annually that are not already receiving other rental support.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.
Amy Smart, The Canadian Press