The leaders of both the Liberals and New Democrats focused their attention on seniors while campaigning in British Columbia’s provincial election on Sunday.
Both party announcements pledge to keep seniors in their homes for longer, while the Liberals also added a plan to improve long-term care homes to its election platform.
While campaigning in North Vancouver, Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson announced a $7,000 annual tax credit for seniors’ at-home services and a $1-billion plan to replace and upgrade care homes.
“Some people may say this can be a bit expensive, but compare with the cost of institutional care, which is much, much higher,” Wilkinson said. ”Seniors deserve the option of aging in place. Seniors deserve the option of the comfort and security of their own home as they age.”
The Liberal plan to upgrade and build care homes is similar to the $1.4-billion, 10-year capital plan the NDP announced Wednesday, though Wilkinson said his approach would see all seniors in private long-term care rooms over five years, not 10.
Wilkinson said a Liberal government would commit $200 million in each of five years to fast track construction to ensure that every senior who wants a single room in long-term care can have one.
COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes in B.C. have been devastating and the majority of the 238 people who have died in the provincial have been seniors.
Wilkinson said it’s a tragedy that can never happen again.
NDP Leader John Horgan, who campaigned in Comox, announced expanded health-care education spaces and funding for seniors’ home care, saying the former Liberal government rationed services and cut back on staff.
“COVID-19 has exposed the true cost of B.C. Liberal neglect to seniors’ care,” Horgan said in a statement.
Horgan said the NDP plan would involve training programs for health-care workers and would ensure health authorities have the resources they need to deliver the services.
“We need to make sure though that the care providers have the time in their day to do the work that we’re asking them to do,” he said.
Other details of the plan would be unveiled in the NDP election platform, Horgan said.
He said the key to the plan would be to allow seniors to stay at home, where they want to be.
“That’s far more cost effective than building more bricks and mortar and putting people into buildings.”
Later on Sunday, Wilkinson promised in a news release that a Liberal government would stop the city of Surrey from abandoning the RCMP in favour of a local police force.
Wilkinson said his government would hold a referendum would, giving Surrey residents the final choice.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was elected on the promise to bring the city its own police force, the provincial government approved the transition in 2019 and a search has been launched for a new police chief.
A statement from New Democrat Mike Farnworth, the public safety minister who gave the government’s approval, said Wilkinson’s promise is a desperate act and a major violation of the relationship with a local government.
“This flip-flop by Andrew Wilkinson and the B.C. Liberals is one more desperate act. This blatant disrespect is offensive to the city and citizens of Surrey who are quite capable of managing the affairs of their city, in accordance with their legal authority.”
A statement from McCallum said the Surrey Police Service is “a done deal.”
“For the B.C. Liberals to interfere in the unanimous decision of an elected city council should be a concern to all municipal governments in our province,” McCallum said.
The New Democrats announced on Sunday that if re-elected, their government would pay back drivers any profits generated by the Insurance Corporation of B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accidents dropped dramatically during the pandemic and the government said earlier this year ICBC had saved millions.
David Eby, the attorney general who is also responsible for the public auto insurer, said the rebate would be paid at the same time as an expected 20 per cent rate reduction in insurance next May.
Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said the announcement is another cynical example of the kinds of politics going on in B.C. for too long.
“This is again such a standard approach in elections to say ‘look, vote for us and we’ll give you this one-time cash in your pocket deal,’” she said. ”We are focused on actually looking at where we want to get to.”
Furstenau campaigned in Duncan Sunday and announced a plan to support renters, saying the Green party would earmark $500 million to supplement those who are paying more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent.
Terri Theodore, The Canadian Press
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