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Platform smackdown: NDP, BC Liberal plans compared

The B.C. Liberals and the B.C. New Democrats have released party platforms that propose startlingly similar visions for the province's future.

Both parties laid out plans for some deficit spending – the Liberals for two years, the NDP for three – to fend off hard times, followed by balanced budgets. Both parties promise tax cuts for small business in an effort to stimulate growth and jobs. And both parties vow to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, and to develop a cap-and-trade system.

Need help telling them apart? Here's a Coles Notes guide to what the two main parties in the B.C. provincial election are proposing in their platforms:

BC Liberals on the economy:

— Reduction in general corporate income tax rate to the lowest rate in Canada by 2011.

— Raise small business income threshold to $500,000 on Jan. 1, 2010.

— Create a Northern and Rural Homeowner benefit, which amounts to an added $200 saving on property taxes for residents of those regions.

— Increase the low-income climate action tax credit of $100 per adult and $30 per child by five per cent on July 1, 2009.

— Two-years of deficit spending: $ 495 million for fiscal 2009 and $245 million for 2010.

NDP on the economy:

— Scrap the carbon tax.

— Stablize Hydro rates.

— Provide a tax holiday for small business, which would amount to a one-year tax credit against the small business income tax.

— Raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10.

— Three years of deficit spending: $877 million in 2009-10, $497 million in 2010-11, $172 million in 2011-12.

BC Liberals on the environment:

— Previously announced carbon tax on fossil fuels.

— Previously announced commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.

— Extend B.C.'s network of land conservancies.

— Implement new anti-idling measures.

— Implement low carbon fuel content standards and California-equivalent tailpipe standards on vehicle emissions.

— “Expand strategies'' to protect species at risk.

— Help implement a new sewage treatment plan for Greater Victoria as part of the pledge to outlaw dumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

NDP on the environment:

— Scrap the carbon tax on fossil fuels.

— Place a moratorium on new private power projects pending a review.

— Develop a Green Bond to give British Columbians a safe investment opportunity and create a pool of capital to invest in new green infrastructure and technology.

— Stick to the Liberal committment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.

— Develop a continental cap-and-trade plan to reduce overall emissions (the Liberals passed a law last May setting the framework for a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases in partnership with two other provinces and seven U.S. states. The NDP voted against it.)

— Adopt California tailpipe emission standards.

— End routine gas well flaring.

— Protect wildlife with Species at Risk legislation.

BC Liberals on health care:

— Total annual funding for health care will increase by $4.8 billion over three years.

— 90 per cent of all new funding for government will go to health care over that period.

— Introduce a $13-million B.C. Family Residence program to give travel and accommodation assistance to families who must travel to be with children receiving care.

— Increase labour mobility to allow qualified doctors, nurses and other health professionals from anywhere in Canada to automatically be registered to practice in B.C.

— Fund new seniors community parks and expanded cycling paths and pedestrian walkways.

— Ensure all British Columbians have electronic access to their health records.

— Increase investment in chronic disease and addiction prevention, mental health and AIDS prevention and treatment programs.

NDP on health care:

— Total annual funding for health care will increase by $5.4 billion over three years.

— Introduce a wait-time reduction strategy, which would including four new specialized day surgical centres, four new diagnostic centres with new MRI and CT equipment and an Urgent Care Centres project to take pressure off overcrowded emergency rooms.

— Deliver wait-time guarantees in cancer, cardiac, hip and knee replacements, cataract and diagnostics.

— Provide additional residency positions for foreign-trained doctors.

— Increase the number of residencies for family practice and specialists to 25 from 18.

— Reopen 300 beds in the first six months of an NDP mandate.

— Create 3,000 new long-term care beds.

— Build supportive housing for the mentally ill and those living with addiction.

— Immediate support for 100 new detox spaces, 100 new addiction treatment spaces and 100 new long-term mental health treatment beds.

— Appoint an independent seniors representative.

Compiled by Wendy Cox of the Canadian Press.

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