BY HARRY BAINS
MLA-elect for Surrey-Newton
DURING the 2017 BC elections people of British Columbia noticed a clear contrast between the NDP’s platform and the BC Liberals status quo.
British Columbians were fed up with Premier Christy Clark giving tax breaks to the richest and increasing the tax burden on the ordinary, hardworking middle class.
Ordinary British Columbians saw increases in BC Hydro rates, ICBC rates and MSP premiums, while highest wage earners received tax breaks. They wanted change and voted for change.
In the fastest growing city of Surrey people spoke loud and clear that they are fed up with 16 years of neglect by the Christy Clark’s Liberals.
The Liberals increased taxes and fees on everything from text books to home care. People had had enough!
Burdened with increased medical premiums, ICBC rates, BC Hydro rates and bridge tolls, Surrey wanted change. The Liberals failed to put a meaningful crime reduction strategy in place and had no poverty reduction plan. Instead of showing leadership to expand public transportation, Clark played politics with a referendum she knew would fail. Here we are four years later with no improvement in public transportation.
In our overcrowded hospital we are seeing people waiting 10 hours to see a doctor and stuck in hallways waiting for treatment. Our schools are bursting at the seams with 7,000 students in portables and parents are tired of fundraising for playgrounds and school equipment. And to make it even worse, the portables are being paid for out of the operating budget, the money that should go towards students in class learning.
People in Surrey saw hope in the NDP Platform. Hardworking middle class and small businesses noted relief in their everyday cost of living. Our Platform was designed to help working class people on fixed income and our seniors. While people saw Christy Clark’s Liberal platform of staying the course to continue to help the wealthy and well connected and the corporations who funded Christy’s election campaign, the NDP made three commitments to the people of our province.
First, to make life more affordable for middle class and hardworking British Colombians by:
– Removing tolls from Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges
– Eliminating MSP premiums
– Freezing BC Hydro and ICBC rates
– Raising minimum wage to $15 per hour in four years
– Building $10 per day child care
– Establishing a poverty reduction plan
– Removing interest on student loans and providing $1,000 upon graduation
– Providing an annual $400 rental grant to renters
Secondly, improving public serviced that you can count on by:
– Providing innovative health care delivery by building urgent care centers in your neighourhoods
– Improving seniors home care services
– Providing resources to teachers and parents to help in class education for our children
– Create good family supporting jobs by investing in infrastructure, building hospitals and schools
– Revive our forest industry by reducing log export and make logs available to our local sawmills.
Clearly our priorities resonated with people’s concerns about affordability and improved services. For the last 16 years the middle class has been stretching their pay cheques farther and farther and not being able to get ahead. NDP wanted to change that and put money back into the pockets of people.
It is clear Surrey sent a strong message to the incoming government that Surrey’s issues cannot be ignored any longer.