1. How do you plan to address the affordable housing issue across the Cowichan Valley?
The lack of affordable housing in Nanaimo North Cowichan is something that I hear almost every day. It is shocking to me the growing number of homeless folks in our area. I am excited about our plan to create an Affordable Housing Fund, to provide $400 a year in renters support and to close loopholes that allow speculators to drive up housing prices for profits. Houses are not commodities, they are homes and a BC NDP government will do whatever is in our power to make housing affordable again.
2. How would you transition to a sustainable economy that will support local business and create reliable, living wage jobs for residents in Cowichan?
There is so much opportunity here and I’m excited about what is possible, with a change in government. The BC NDP is committed to sustainability in all aspects of the economy. Our Power-BC-Better Plan addresses clean energy, transportation and retrofit construction. We will support the forest industry by encouraging more wood construction and more value-added operations. The Cowichan Valley and mid-island regions will be supported by our Grow BC, Buy BC, Feed BC program.
3. What do you consider to be the top priorities for improving education and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
People may not know that previously I was a school trustee, so I have a particular interest in public education. It is simply shameful that the BCTF had to take the Liberal government to the Supreme Court to force them to properly fund public education. Our top priority is to return classrooms to the class size and composition that will make sure children can learn and teachers can teach. We will ensure that children get the attention that they need and that there is funding for school counsellors, specialist teachers, teacher-librarians and education assistants.
4. What do you consider to be the top priorities for sustaining a healthy environment and, if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
The top priority for me is clean water. The BC NDP will commit to and recognize the right to clean, safe drinking water through a renewed environmental assessment process that works with First Nations and communities to address the cumulative effects of development on ecosystems and watersheds. We will review the Water Sustainability Act to ensure that high volume water users are paying for access fairly, and that drinking water sources are protected. In addition we will keep cancer-causing chemicals off of our lawns and out of our parks, gardens and places where children play by banning cosmetic pesticides.
5. What do you consider to be the top priorities for better health care in Cowichan and if elected, how will you work to ensure these priorities will be addressed?
The top priorities are replacing our aging hospital and improving access to a family doctor and other medical professionals. We will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. We will emphasize prevention and early treatment for all health issues, including mental health and addictions. We will reduce the demand on acute care and emergency beds by investing in home care and quality long term care for BC seniors. And finally, we will invest in more paramedics, so that no one is left waiting for an ambulance in their time of critical need.
6. If elected, how will you support moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia locally within our riding?
I am proud of the work that I have been doing with First Nations in our riding. The BC NDP is committed to act on the 94 Calls to Action in Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. We will develop, in consultation with First Nations, a curriculum for Indigenous languages and for Indigenous history in Canada and British Columbia, so indigenous children and their peers can learn the history, accurately. We will implement the recommendations from Grand Chief Ed John’s report and provide better supports to keep Aboriginal children at home and out of care.
7. One Cowichan has been facilitating a petition for the federal government to allocate adaptation to climate change infrastructure funds to raise the Cowichan weir for the Cowichan River. How will you work to bring the provincial government to the table as an active partner to move this initiative forward?
The previous Liberal government did not take seriously the concerns of the people in this area regarding the Cowichan River. By electing a BC NDP government, lead by John Horgan, I will bring this to the attention of the new government. We need changes that allow for appropriate management of this river, that takes into consideration the concerns of local citizens, local government and local First Nations.
8. What made you decide to run in this election?
I am seeking re-election because there is just so much more work that needs to be done for the people of our riding, and the people of BC. We have had sixteen years of Liberal governments serving the best interests of their friends and corporate backers. I hear everyday how much more difficult life is for people, whether it is the economy, education for children, health care for their families and care and security for seniors. I ran to try to make things better and I still feel that way today. We can have a better BC.