It's BC's first new government in 16 years, and there's a lot for progressives to look forward to.
After 16 years, change has finally come to British Columbia.
BREAKING – We are about to have a new premier of British Columbia it looks like. #BCPoli
— Richard Zussman (@richardzussman) June 30, 2017
There’s already plenty for progressives to celebrate.
From environmental policy to campaign finance reform the NDP-Green partnership ‒ the first of its kind in North America ‒ is set to break with the past 16 years and shake up the way things are done in BC.
Here are five big changes progressives can look forward to in the months and years ahead:
1) Getting big money out of politics once and for all
Thanks to BC’s “wild west” of campaign financing, corporate money seemed to be omnipresent in Christy Clark’s government.
A report released by Integrity BC showed that the top 177 BC Liberal donors received $15 billion in contracts, subsidies and other special favours from the BC Government over the last decade. The Liberals took in a whopping $55 million ‒ more than double what the province’s other major parties have taken in ‒ from these donors alone.
Clark’s Liberals have also received a significant number of donations from sources outside of BC.
Both the Greens and NDP have been sharply critical of Clark’s cash-for-access fundraising, and are committed to an outright ban on both corporate and union donations as well as donations from non-residents of BC.
2) A $15/hour minimum wage
Thanks to a heel dragging by the BC Liberals, the province’s minimum wage was frozen at $8/hr for a full decade before gradually rising to $10.85/hr in 2016. It is currently among the lowest of any province in Canada.
The new government is pledged to create a Fair Wages Commission tasked with “establishing a pathway to a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour and overseeing regular rate reviews”.
3) Implementation of the Climate Leadership Team’s recommendations
Having convened a panel of experts to make recommendations on environmental policy, Christy Clark did not accept in full a single one of the 32 recommendations they put forward.
(Several of those experts were so unimpressed they even vented their frustrations publicly.)
The NDP-Green agreement commits the new government to accepting and enacting the recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team and instituting a $5-per-tonne-per-year increase to the provincial carbon tax, starting April 1, 2018.
4) Making housing more affordable
Housing costs in metro Vancouver have skyrocketed over the last decade, with the cost of a detached home jumping by a factor of 19 relative to the median household income and condo prices rising by a factor of six.
The NDP has committed to taxing housing speculation and creating 11,400 new affordable housing units each year for a decade.
5) $10/day childcare
BC parents currently face median child care costs ranging from $755 per month for preschoolers to $1,000 per month for infants – roughly 33% higher for infants and 37% higher for preschoolers compared to a decade ago.
The NDP has pledged $1.5 billion per year over the next decade to ensure $10 per day childcare will be available for families acrss BC.
Photo: Mohit_K. Used under a Creative Commons License.