BC NDP Leader John Horgan has released his party’s “Working for You” election platform. It focuses on health and economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to build on his government’s previous priorities of increasing affordability for British Columbians, meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, fighting climate change, and supporting workers and small businesses. These priorities and a focus on people and families are meant to contrast with what the NDP suggests is a BC Liberal Party mainly looking out for big business and the wealthy. 

A centrepiece of the platform announcement is a commitment to provide a $1,000 cash payment to eligible households making less than $120,000 per year.

Other key platform commitments for a re-elected BC NDP government include:

  • A rent freeze until the end of 2021 and future rent increases capped by inflation;
  • Free transit for children aged 12 and under;
  • Expanding $10-a-day childcare; 
  • An income-tested $400 renters rebate;
  • Health investments including a new medical school and a 10-year cancer care action plan;
  • A new $3 billion a year Recovery Investment Fund to build community infrastructure like hospitals, childcare spaces, and other community priorities; and
  • Continued focus on building affordable housing and reducing costs and permitting bottlenecks for developers to streamline and modernize housing construction.

Already this election, the BC NDP has promised to increase student grants, boost long-term care worker wages, end shared rooms in long-term care facilities, and provide free COVID-19 vaccinations to all British Columbians once a vaccine is approved. These commitments would add $2.243 billion in new costs to the 2020/21 budget, growing the projected deficit to $15 billion from the $13 billion previously forecast.  

From a political perspective, the platform commitments combined with Horgan’s comments to reporters, point to the BC NDP’s efforts to further define the ballot question for this election. They are positioning the vote as a choice between Horgan’s leadership, his party’s vision, direction for economic recovery, and the NDP’s accomplishments in the last three years in contrast with the 16-year record of the BC Liberals. The BC NDP Leader emphasized the need for a strong, stable [read: majority] government that can focus on the profound challenges facing the province over the next four years, contrasting the BC NDP as a party that puts ordinary British Columbians in the driver’s seat and stays focused on their priorities.

Horgan told media that his party’s platform includes 154 commitments, 60 of which are new. For those keeping track, CBC’s Justin McElroy says the BC NDP completed 79% of the 122 promises in their 2017 election platform, despite making little progress over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below, you’ll find a selection of NDP platform commitments we believe are most significant. As always, your H+K B.C. Team will continue to monitor the election as it develops and stay in close touch to inform you of any developments that impact you or your business in the lead up to election day. 

Healthcare Commitments
Contrasting the past years of BC NDP governance with the BC Liberals, the BC NDP promised to deliver investments in training the next generation of health care workers, creating a network of primary care providers across the province, and reducing wait times.

Commitments include:

  • Providing more home-based care through e-health technology;
  • A new medical school in British Columbia;
  • Creation of a 10-year Cancer Care Plan that invests in new technology and dedicated cancer care teams in more communities;
  • Lobbying the federal government for a national Pharmacare plan;
  • Providing free prescription contraception;
  • Scaling up the response to the opioid crisis and continuing to call on the federal government for decriminalization; and,
  • Investments in long-term care and assisted living.

Investments in a Green Economy 
Including a specific call-out thanking former BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver for his support, Horgan discussed the efforts the NDP government had made to grow B.C.’s economy through clean energy investments and expanded on these with promises for a re-elected NDP government.

Earlier in the campaign, the BC NDP committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and the platform’s economic commitments continue to connect fighting climate change and growing the economy. 

Continuing with this theme, Horgan announced that a re-elected BC NDP government would:

  • Develop a new industrial and manufacturing strategy for resource sectors;
  • Create a new shipbuilding strategy;
  • Expand training opportunities in the aerospace sector;
  • Increase high-speed internet connectivity;
  • Support innovation clusters;
  • Provide a special recovery fund targeted at B.C.’s hospitality and tourism sector;
  • Tie the minimum wage to inflation; 
  • Increase workplace safety inspections; and,
  • Expand tuition waivers and the BC Access Grant Program.

Prioritizing Affordability, Housing, and Security
In addition to the one-time $1,000 benefit to families with household incomes under $125,000/year and $500 for individuals making less than $62,000/year, a re-elected BC NDP is committing to:

  • Expand transit options in communities across the province;
  • Banning single-use plastics;
  • Creating incentives for electric vehicles;
  • Introducing new anti-racism legislation;
  • Controlling the cost of strata insurance;
  • Introducing further COVID-19 precautions in schools;
  • Investing in supports for students with special needs, school meal programs, and funding programs for classroom supplies;
  • Building more affordable housing;
  • Modernizing housing construction by reducing construction costs for developers and streamlining local and provincial permitting processes; and,
  • Reducing ICBC premiums by an average of 20%.

BC Liberals Announce They Would End the ICBC Monopoly; Platform Still to Come
In an attempt to steal some campaign media spotlight from the BC NDP today, the BC Liberals made a significant election promise of their own this morning, pledging to end the ICBC monopoly and open up the automobile insurance market to competition from the private market.

This commitment would allow drivers to directly purchase vehicle damage coverage from private insurance companies and give drivers a choice between the private market’s tort system or public market’s no-fault ICBC system for accident benefits coverage. BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson also said a BC Liberal government would offer a new driver credit for a minimum of two years of driving experience.

The full BC Liberal platform is expected to be released over the coming day, as is the BC Green Party platform.

Elizabeth Cull is a Senior Associate with Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Elizabeth was a B.C. New Democrat MLA between 1989 -1996. She served as Minister of Health, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations.