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BC VOTES 2020: Meet your Vernon-Monashee Candidates: Harwinder Sandhu, BC NDP

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu is vying for the Vernon-Monashee seat

What do you think is the most important issue in this constituency and how do you propose to tackle it?

There are many important issues for this constituency, but I would say affordable housing.

We have a 10-year Homes For B.C. plan, we’re well on the road to building 114,000 affordable rental and supportive homes for people.

• Freezing rents to the end of 2021 and capping increases

• Providing a renter’s rebate

• Reducing construction costs to make homes more affordable

• Continuing to deliver a steady supply of new affordable homes: We have started with more than 25,000 affordable homes. But there is more work to do we have plans to build 114,000 new, affordable homes

• Providing more homes for Indigenous people in B.C.: We have made a $550-million commitment to building 1,750 new homes

• Getting more affordable housing built through Housing Hub partnerships we’ll provide additional low-interest loans to add tens of thousands more homes for middle-income families

• Building more supportive housing

• New rent supplements for people moving on from supportive housing

How will you advocate a robust COVID-19 economic recovery for small businesses in the North Okanagan?

In the first six months of the pandemic, John Horgan and the NDP government launched its COVID-19 Action Plan, investing more than $8 billion in services and supports that helped people, communities and local businesses. And we followed that up in September with a made-in-B.C. Economic Recovery Plan that will improve health care, get people back to work, support B.C. businesses and strengthen our neighbourhoods and communities. Our economic recovery plan is built around people, communities, workers and our province’s small businesses.

With the rapid rise of overdose deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic, how will your party plan to handle the simultaneous opioid crisis?

On Day 1, we created a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, the only one of its kind in Canada. Before COVID-19 hit, B.C. had its first drop in the rate of overdose deaths since 2012.

• Crackdown on the toxic drug supply: We’ll free up police to focus on serious crime in B.C. communities, including cracking down on those who distribute toxic drugs on the streets. We’ll also explore new ways to help prescribers separate more people from the toxic drug supply through safe prescription alternatives.

• Fast-track the move toward decriminalization: We’ll work with police chiefs to push Ottawa to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use or develop a made-in-B.C. solution that will help save lives.

Health and safety are at the forefront of British Columbians’ minds. How will your party work to keep British Columbians safe throughout COVID-19?

As a Health Care Provider in a COVID-19 unit, I have seen first hand that how John Horgan and his team have handled the crisis has been with the safety of British Columbians in mind. An NDP government will expand its COVID-19 Action Plan to cover four key areas that will help create more security for everyone in British Columbia:

• Keeping people healthy and safe

• Getting B.C. ready for fall and winter

• A long-term economic recovery plan

• Preparing British Columbia for the next one: COVID-19 has shown us what can happen when an unexpected and overwhelming health crisis occurs. Our job is to make B.C. ready for the next one. As part of our Action Plan, we’re going to continue developing a pandemic prevention plan that brings to B.C. state-of-the-art testing, contact tracing, and hospital management procedures and technology.

About the Author: Vernon Morning Star Staff

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