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NDP Platform Vows $3.5 Billion in New Investments, Like Cheap Childcare, Housing

Party would raise funds through higher taxes on corporations and wealthy.

By Andrew MacLeod 13 Apr 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

The British Columbia NDP’s platform released today says the party would balance the provincial budget while raising more money from corporate taxes and the wealthy to improve services.

“Our plan shifts the balance back to where it should be,” says a summary of the Working for You platform. “It asks the wealthiest British Columbians and profitable corporations to pay a little bit more so families like yours can get further ahead.”

The party would raise $250 million a year from taxes on incomes above $150,000, $250 million by increasing the tax on corporate profits by one percentage point, and $200 million with a new tax on real estate speculation that would apply to owners who keep homes empty.

The NDP would also spend the $500 million that the BC Liberal government has stowed in the BC Prosperity Fund, an account originally intended to be built from a revenue windfall from a liquefied natural gas industry that has failed to materialize.

After adding in money from “cleaning up BC Liberal waste,” growing the economy and currently projected surpluses, the party identifies almost $3.5 billion to spend on new investments.

Big ticket items across the three years of the plan (details of which are in a table at page 95 of the 108-page platform) include $855 million to introduce $10-a-day childcare, $665 million for housing affordability programs including a $400 a year payment to renters, and $500 million to eliminate tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

The NDP would increase income assistance payments — including for regular welfare, which has been frozen since 2007 — by $100 a month and allow recipients to earn more money before the government claws it back. The changes will cost $525 million over three years.

There’s $155 million to decrease student debt, $90 million for care for seniors, $58 million for school supplies and $35 million for increased mental health and addictions support.

An NDP government would also target funding to sectors that it believes can help create “good jobs” and a sustainable economy. Those commitments include $140 million for the technology sector, $75 million to support forestry, $30 million for the arts, $25 million for agriculture, and $25 million to hire more conservation officers and rangers.

The party has also earmarked $40 million to make BC Ferries fares more affordable. Measures include a 15 per cent reduction on small routes, a fare freeze on the major routes and a return of the free tickets for seniors on weekdays.

The documents re-commit to eliminating Medical Service Plan fees. A party spokesperson said via email that the NDP would follow through on the cuts to MSP the government outlined in February, and then form a panel “to determine the fairest way to eliminate this unfair tax.”

The platform also repeated promises to ban corporate and union donations to political parties, introduce a poverty reduction strategy and move to a proportional voting system.

The plan would balance the budget in 2017-2018, but notes that may be more difficult in the following two years. “We are concerned that Christy Clark’s pre-election budget does not reflect real needs in those years,” it said. “We will aim to balance in every year as government, but not at the expense of children, seniors, families and the most vulnerable.”

Repeatedly the platform argues that the BC Liberals have given advantages to wealthy people while making life more unaffordable for everyone else.

“On May 9, the choice couldn’t be more clear,” the platform says. “Four more years of Christy Clark working for her rich friends and donors at the top, or a new BC NDP government working for you.”  [Tyee]

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