1. How do you plan to address the affordable housing issue across the Cowichan Valley?
Getting more affordable housing built in the Cowichan Valley is important and key to addressing issues of poverty and homelessness in our community. A BC NDP government will create an Affordable Housing Fund using money from a charge on speculators who treat housing purely as an investment. We'll also close loopholes for corporations and real-estate speculators that are driving up prices and making housing unaffordable for young families, and we'll reinvest in cooperative housing.
2. How would you transition to a sustainable economy that will support local business and create reliable, living wage jobs for residents in Cowichan?
The NDP's 'Grow BC, Buy BC, Feed BC' will support local farmers, wineries and breweries by marketing BC food and beverages, incentivize BC hospitals and care facilities to serve local food, and protect agricultural land against climate risks. We'll invest in wood-product manufacturing to restore lost forestry jobs and make sure the only raw logs leaving BC are those we can't turn into lumber or value-added products. We'll replant diverse climate-resilient forests. Our Power-BC-Better Plan will create local jobs in clean energy, retrofit construction, transit, manufacturing and high-tech. We'll raise the minimum wage to $15/hr and invest in skills training.
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?
We need schools with appropriate class size and composition that support children to learn and teachers to provide individualized attention to those who need it. We need to restore funding for school counsellors, specialist teachers, teacher-librarians and education assistants. Our kids need art, music and outdoor activity, as well as science and math. We need school funding that works for rural communities, not closing needed schools, and to get on with seismic upgrades. These are all priorities a BC NDP government will address. The Supreme Court order restoring education funding cut 16 years ago is not nearly enough.
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?
We must protect our waterways - our salmon and water supply. I've worked with the Watershed Board, with Cowichan Tribes and all levels of government to address pollution, restore habitat, raise the Cowichan Lake weir, and get derelict vessels out of local waters. As MLA I'll continue that work. I stand with our community against the LNG project proposed for the Saanich Inlet and will continue to do so. Addressing air quality and protecting agricultural land is also important. The BC NDP is committed to protecting our air, land and water and stopping projects that don't meet our firm climate commitments.
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?
We need to replace our 50-year-old overcrowded Cowichan hospital. We need home care for our seniors, adequate staffing of seniors facilities and to stop privatizing seniors' homes, so our seniors get the quality care they deserve. We need more mental health and addiction treatment beds, especially with the Fentanyl crisis, and we need more hospice beds here in the Valley. Everyone needs access to a family doctor. A BC NDP government will cancel the Liberal's tax cuts for the top 2%, and invest in health care. I'm committed to advocating for the health care resources needed in the Cowichan Valley.
6. If elected, how will you support moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia locally within our riding?
Reconciliation with First Nations is critical in BC and here in our community, on Cowichan Tribes' unceded territory. It starts with listening, dialogue and building respectful relationships - and valuing what the Cowichan people can teach us. We've made some progress and we have much work to do. A BC NDP government will implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and the UN Declaration for Indigenous Rights as a foundation for moving forward. All levels of government must work together to change policies and programs and repair the harm caused by residential schools. I am committed to this work.
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?
Provincial regulations control water storage at the weir and make it difficult to respond to local conditions. The CVRD and Cowichan Tribes have shown leadership in advocating for our water needs, fighting provincial regulators for years to get them to act in our community’s interest. We need the Province to step up, provide infrastructure funding to raise the weir and support the Regional District, Cowichan Tribes and local industry in managing our river flows and water supply. As MLA I'll get the Province to the table. For responsible provincial action on water storage we need to elect an NDP government.
8. What made you decide to run in this election?
As a CVRD Area Director I've experienced the Liberal's cuts to Ministries like Environment and Transportation leading to downloading costs to local government. Coordinating a local non-profit, I've seen the effects of service cuts, higher Hydro rates and user fees on people already struggling to make ends meet. I want to be your MLA to work for our community - to end unfair rate hikes and MSP premiums; to give our kids quality education and protect our environment; to build an economy with stable, better paying jobs, and be part of a government that works for us, not against us.