Building on her performance during Tuesday night's leaders' debate, BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau revealed a platform Wednesday that positioned the party as striking a balance between providing immediate economic recovery from the pandemic, and bigger policy shifts toward equity and sustainability.
Furstenau called the platform, which includes previously announced proposals like universal early childhood education for certain age groups, an “evidence-based” approach to policy and politics.
The Green party leader also cited the need to tackle growing inequality among British Columbians that existed well before COVID-19.
"As we rebuild, we cannot afford to go back to an old patchwork of social supports that were not meeting the needs of people," Furstenau said.
"We need to build a more resilient society and social safety net that lifts people up, and doesn’t leave them behind."
Some of the new commitments the Green Party revealed Wednesday include:
Addressing inequality and affordability
Providing a basic income for youth aging out of care
Reducing clawbacks on earned income to reduce the disincentive to work and establishing a 12-month period where those who qualify for income assistance can earn income without clawbacks
Expanding supports for co-op housing through extending leases for existing co-ops about to expire, creating a land bank for new co-ops, and providing security of tenure for co-ops on leased land
Funding operating grants for school districts to 100 per cent of the grants received in the 2019/2020 school year to ensure that enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic does not comprise the quality of education, nor the ability of schools to retain current teachers
Investing $24 million in new funding to support the mental health of students
The BC Greens have already announced policies that include free childcare for children under three, a plan to phase out public funding of for-profit care homes, the exploration of a four-day work week, and a $1 billion plan to bring mental health care into the province’s medical services plan.
When asked to elaborate on policy decisions that may put immediate economic recovery and long-term sustainability into conflict, Furstenau said that every decision the party made going forward would have to consider both, with an emphasis on being “people focused.”
After Tuesday' night's debate, Furstenau wouldn't specifically say whether she thought her widely praised performance would translate into more seats for the party.
“The winners of elections should be the people and the citizens of British Columbia. We focus so much on the political parties and the leaders. We should be engaging as we did last night in debates about ideas and policies and visions.”
The BC Greens won three seats in the 2017 election and received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote.
Under then-leader Andrew Weaver, the party negotiated an agreement with the NDP which allowed John Horgan to form a minority government.
Both Furstenau and BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson have repeatedly brought up Horgan’s decision to call a snap election, widely seen as a largely political move to win a majority, during the campaign.
The Green Party leader ended her remarks Wednesday with a line that seemed to be quickly becoming her trademark, and potentially, her campaign’s bottom line: “We know that the government works better when no party has all the power."