COVID-19 and Health
David supports government’s approach of using evidence-based policy and science to guide our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and knows that the role of government is to ensure that healthcare responses like testing, contact tracing and treatment are universal, public and accessible. British Columbia has the lowest mortality of any province or state over 5,000,000 people in North America, and under an NDP government, the province will continue following expert advice to make sure we remain safe and healthy.
In response to the serious risk posed by COVID-19, the following initiatives are already being implemented:
- Hiring and training 7000 new healthcare workers in care homes to ensure our seniors are treated with dignity and respect, and to minimize the risk of outbreaks.
- Delivering the Health Career Access Program, a free program offering an immediate pathway to becoming a health care support worker and, ultimately, a credentialed health care assistant.
- Rolling out the largest fall flu vaccine initiative in the province’s history, with high dose immunizations available for all long-term care and assisted living residents.
- Piloting the “Hospital at Home” program which will support people who would otherwise need to go to the hospital to need stay at home. Though the use of virtual appointments and in-person visits at home, the program will help keep people out of hospital, making beds available and reducing everyone's risk of infection.
- Hiring and training 600 new contact tracers who will track and contact those exposed to COVID-19 to ensure they quarantine and reduce the risk of community transmission.
- Increasing lab capacity to allow 20,000 tests to be completed every day.
We need to reduce climate change causing carbon pollution and protect our natural heritage for our kids and grandkids. David is proud of the North America-leading Clean BC plan developed and implemented under the NDP government, but there is more to do. David is committed to listening to and working in collaboration with communities, businesses, non-profit organizations, scientists, and Indigenous communities and leaders whose knowledge, expertise and input are critical to environmental protection and revitalization projects.
Some of the actions already taken by government under NDP leadership include:
- Eliminating one of the greatest threats to the decline of Grizzly Bear populations by instituting a complete ban on the hunting of Grizzly Bears in the province.
- Implementing the CleanBC plan that lays the groundwork for British Columbia to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets.
- Joining in partnership with the federal government to deliver $30 million for 14 projects under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund.
- Developing a legal framework to ban single-use plastics, and expanding the scope of plastics that can be recycled through industry-funded residential recycling programs in order to keep plastics out of our landfills, oceans and waterways.
- Protecting British Columbia’s Old Growth forests, starting with protection of over 350,000 hectares in nine critical areas throughout the province.
Money Laundering and Real Estate Speculation
David takes money laundering, tax evasion and real estate speculation seriously. He has seen the devastating and interconnected effects these problems are having on people in our communities.
As the Minister responsible for gaming and the B.C. Lottery Corporation, David hired anti-money laundering expert Dr. Peter German to produce a report on money laundering in British Columbia. Many of the report’s recommendations have already been implemented. Critically, one of the first changes made as a result of an interim report from Dr. German in December of 2017 was to ban cash transactions over $10,000 at B.C. casinos, ending almost a decade of people walking shopping bags full of $20 bills into our casinos without consequence.
A key piece of David’s work in government was launching an independent public inquiry on money laundering in B.C., after three independent reviews revealed that each year billions of dollars are laundered through our real estate market and other sectors of the economy.
David believes that fundamental transparency measures need to be in place in order to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of everything British Columbia has to offer. David was a strong proponent of the Beneficial Ownership Registry, which will create a central database of the real people who own residential real estate in our province — no more anonymous companies or trusts. This information will be shared with federal and provincial tax and law enforcement authorities, and collecting it is the first step towards ensuring fairness and a reduction of money laundering and tax evasion in our real estate market. Under a BC NDP government, the new Beneficial Ownership Registry will be implemented in May, 2020.
Education & Schools
David has always advocated for increased resources for education and making schools in B.C. supportive and safe places for all children to learn. This work begins with increasing per student funding, as well as improving our school facilities. Under the BC NDP government, funding per student has risen 19%—a billion dollars annually—which is the highest increase in Canada.
David has also worked to ensure that our children’s schools in Vancouver-Point Grey were funded to receive desperately needed seismic upgrades, including at Bayview Elementary and Lord Byng High School, where construction is currently underway.
Some of the actions already taken by government under NDP leadership include:
- Investing $2.7 billion over three years for new schools, school expansions, and seismic upgrades.
- Raising per student funding by 19% over three years, while the Canadian average increase is only 5%.
- Increasing funding for students with special needs by 35% since 2016.
- Increasing funding for students learning English by an estimated $104.1 million.
- Creating an annual fund that assisted in building 141 playgrounds across the province, taking the burden off of PAC fundraising to build playgrounds, and resulting in new community playgrounds like the climbing equipment at U Hill elementary.
As a parent of two young children in a family where both parents work, David understands how important quality full-time childcare and “before and after school” care is to countless families like his. David is committed to not only improving accessible and affordable access to childcare, but also to improving the quality of childcare available across the province. You can see the BC NDP commitment to childcare in our community, with the Ministry of Childcare New Spaces Program supplying capital funding for hundreds of new childcare spaces now available to the community at UBC.
Some of the actions already taken by the BC NDP government to support families include:
- Launched the Affordable Childcare Benefit supporting more than 32,000 children to receive child care for no more than $10 a day.
- Expanded the Aboriginal Head Start programs directly benefiting Indigenous families across the province.
- Invested nearly $510 million in families through the Fee Reduction Initiative and the Affordable Child Care Benefit, which has helped parents save up to $1,600 a month, per child.
- Invested more than $27 million in Early Childhood Educators by providing wage enhancements, bursaries, on-the-job training opportunities and other measures designed to support professionals at the centre of B.C.’s child care system.
David knows that public transit is essential to reducing our carbon emissions, addressing gridlock and ensuring people can move quickly and easily throughout our communities. While the BC Liberal government engaged in delay tactics by holding a referendum on investing in badly-needed public transportation, under the BC NDP the government took immediate action and started building and funding new transit right away.
The 99 B-Line, which runs through Vancouver Point Grey, is the busiest transportation corridor in North America. David supports the completion of the Broadway subway line, all the way to UBC instead of stopping at Arbutus Street. A subway to our community will support local businesses in struggling areas like Point Grey village, eliminate diesel bus traffic on our community roads, and help us reduce increasing car traffic caused by expansion of student and non-student housing and population at Le’lam, the Jericho Lands, and UBC.
Under the BC NDP, critical transit investments have been made, including:
- Partnering with the federal government and municipalities to cover the capital costs of the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision to ensure we’re investing in a modern, integrated and affordable transit system that is crucial as Metro Vancouver grows.
- Committing $1.82 billion in provincial funding for the first phase of the Broadway Subway project to reduce congestion in Metro Vancouver.
- Making it more convenient to drive electric vehicles by adding a total of 83 new Level 2 EV charging stations across B.C. in partnership with the federal government.
- Launching a provincial strategy for cleaner, more active transportation, which aims to double the percentage of trips taken with active transportation by 2030, including a new Active Transportation Planning Grant for local governments to support people walking, rolling, biking and running in our communities.
Supporting Local Businesses
Community businesses are essential to the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods. That’s why David regularly meets with owners of local businesses and our Business Improvement Associations to hear about the issues most important to them so he can continue to advocate for policies that will help them to grow and thrive.
David understands the owners and employees of the businesses and services in our community become friends, and the services and products they offer help define our community. That’s why David has been working closely with the Point Grey BIA to grapple with the devastating impact of the loss of our community grocery store and reduced community populations due to vacant homes in our community held by investors. For example, responding to concerns raised by residents, David has been connecting the developer of proposed new rental housing and a new anchor grocery store on the Safeway site with the BIA and the city, to help ensure that the development on this vacant lot will revitalize Point Grey village as quickly as possible. Most recently in Kitsilano, David participated in an “Open with Care” campaign to encourage local residents to return to our local stores safely to ensure these services and stores stay open.
At home in Vancouver Point Grey, David has taken action to champion local businesses and support them during this particularly difficult time as the province responds to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Some of the actions that David and the BC NDP have already taken to support businesses include:
- Reducing prices for beer, wine and spirits and improving patio space to support them during COVID.
- Helping local business owners identify vacant storefront owners to press them for cosmetic upgrades.
- Deferring provincial tax filing and payment deadlines.
- Cutting the small business tax rate by 20 per cent.
- Implementing B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes over $8.25 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services affected by the pandemic.
- Temporarily permitting licensed restaurants to to use servers with a Serving it Right certificate to deliver liquor products with the purchase of a meal.
- Investing in targeted and short-term skills training in high-demand fields, expanding Indigenous skills training, and creating more affordable child-care spaces so that more parents, particularly women, can get back to work.
Now more than ever, it’s essential that the government is attuned to the needs of British Columbians who are struggling to make ends meet as their daily costs escalate. David believes that affordability of the essentials, including housing, car insurance, childcare, and groceries, needs to be a priority. While the BC Liberals have proposed eliminating the PST which will overwhelmingly benefit those purchasing big ticket items like new cars and televisions, the BC NDP is focussed on helping people keep their jobs, access benefits, and pay for housing.
Under NDP leadership, the government has:
- Eliminated monthly MSP payments, saving the average family $2500/year.
- Eliminated interest on British Columbia student loans, helping to ensure that students who have to borrow for their education don’t end up paying more than those who don’t.
- Taken action to lower drug costs by making record investments in Fair PharmaCare.
- Passed into law reforms to car insurance that will reduce ICBC costs on average by 20% (or $400 annually) for drivers starting May 1.
Housing affordability remains a challenging issue in B.C. That’s why David supports the NDP’s policies on housing affordability, which is delivering lower rental rates, more rental availability and stabilizing the housing market. These reforms include:
- Implementing an ambitious 30-point housing plan to tackle the housing crisis and make the largest investment in housing affordability in B.C. history – more than $7 billion over 10 years – so that all British Columbians can find an affordable place to live with more than 20,000 units of more affordable housing under construction or completed across the province.
- Funding 4,900 supportive housing units for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with more than 2,500 of these homes already open in communities across B.C.
- Helping women and children leaving violence by funding 340 units of transition housing – the first of 1,500 units and the first major investment in transition housing in more than two decades.
- Paving the way for new student residence on-campus housing at UBC, taking pressure off of community rental housing and reducing burden on transit and traffic on local streets.
- Limiting annual allowable rent increases, and closing the fixed-term lease loophole and the geographic rent increase loophole.
Human rights, democracy and racial equality
Before his time in government, David worked to protect and promote human rights and democratic freedoms. Since being elected, he has continued this important work. After the BC Liberals dismantled British Columbia’s Human Rights Commission in 2002, leaving B.C. as the only province in Canada without a Human Rights Commissioner, David in his role as Attorney General introduced legislation to reinstate the office, and in September 2019 the legislature appointed Kasari Govender as B.C.’s first independent Human Rights Commissioner.
During COVID the province has seen an uptick in racism. David supported the BC NDP in taking action against this and ongoing racism and discrimination in our province, including through:
- Investing $280,000 to support 36 communities across B.C. in delivering the Organizing Against Hate and Racism Program.
- Launching a province-wide, anti-racism network, which will provide greater focus and leadership in identifying and challenging racism across B.C.
- Supporting the Ministry of Health in announcing an independent investigation into allegations of racism in the health-care system.
To help protect our vibrant democracy in British Columbia, David also introduced and passed anti-SLAPP legislation that helps to protect British Columbians’ freedom of expression, as well as a ban on union and corporate donations, strong limits on personal donations, tough new lobbyist registration rules that ban former government employees and former politicians from using inside information as lobbyists when they leave public service, and modernized election rules requested by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Nobody likes to pay car insurance, but it’s essential for peace of mind. Neglect of our public auto insurer by the BC Liberals, including pulling $1bn out of the insurer’s accounts into general revenue, left B.C. as the only province with a public insurer losing money while residents were paying outrageously high rates.
By taking action, even in the face of sustained and aggressive protests by special interest groups who benefit under the current system, David has eliminated billion dollar losses at ICBC and worked to pass new legal reforms supported by many in the disability community. As of May 1 these changes will deliver some of the lowest rates and best benefits in the country to British Columbians — an average reduction of 20% or $400 for drivers.
David believes that rates should be fair and that ICBC should serve the interests of the British Columbians it insures, instead of acting as a piggy bank for the province to balance its budgets, which is why he introduced a law that was passed to ensure ICBC surpluses can only be used to benefit drivers, and can’t be taken into general revenue by future provincial governments.
Legal and Justice
As the Attorney General, David was tasked with ensuring our courts and our legal system is fair and functions efficiently. Under David’s leadership, the Ministry of the Attorney General was responsible for opening eight new legal clinics around B.C. as part of a $2-million investment to improve affordable access to justice. He also oversaw a B.C. government settlement with legal aid lawyers that saw improved access to justice for people facing criminal charges or seeking protection in family cases.
First Nations people in B.C. face disproportionately harsh outcomes and are overrepresented in our criminal justice system. As the Attorney General, addressing this fundamental injustice was at the top of David’s priority list—and he took immediate action to transform the Province’s approach to First Nations justice. Working with the B.C. First Nations Justice Council, David supported Indigenous people across B.C. in drafting their own justice strategy that was adopted by the province. This First Nations Justice Strategy included as a central pillar a plan to open Indigenous justice centres across the province. The first centres have already opened in Merritt, Prince George, and Prince Rupert, with 12 more planned to open over the next five years.
David is committed to moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and taking action to recognize Aboriginal rights and title. Being the first province and a leading jurisdiction passing into law the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the BC NDP did not just change the law. Under BC NDP leadership, landmark reconciliation agreements have been signed with First Nations across the province, including with the Lake Babine Nation and Carrier Sekani First Nations, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding recognizing Wet’suwet’en rights and title and setting out and participating in an active process to negotiate an agreement on how to implement those rights.
The BC NDP government also corrected the longstanding injustice of B.C. being the only province to refuse to share gaming revenue with First Nations, delivering a steady stream of income of $100m per year to Nations across B.C. that will enable them to fund badly needed community improvements that will benefit all residents in the area.