NDP leader Adrian Dix released the party’s full election platform Wednesday, detailing new spending that adds up to $988 million over the next three years.
Bigger budgets are proposed for legal aid and crime prevention, a new ministry of women’s equality, $4 million to review oil pipeline projects the NDP opposes, and $10 million to hold an inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail operations a decade ago.
The new measures are on top of earlier NDP platform announcements to launch a $210 million-a-year child benefit for low-income families, boost seniors’ home care, add more teachers, raise welfare rates and index them to inflation. The minimum wage would also be linked to inflation and the lower wage for alcohol servers would be eliminated.
The platform also promises to move the date of the 2017 B.C. election to the fall, which would extend an NDP government’s mandate to four and a half years if the party wins the May 14 election.
Dix emphasized the NDP’s claim that the B.C. Liberal pre-election budget is not balanced as the government says, but hides a deficit of nearly $800 million by underestimating program spending in the current year and overestimating money from selling government assets.
“Our spending commitments are in balance with our revenue measures, so our platform will not add a penny to the Liberal deficit,” Dix said at a news conference in front of the Legislature.
The platform puts numbers on the NDP’s promise to divert some carbon tax revenues to transit and green projects around the province.
That spending would start with $30 million this fiscal year, rising to $40 million next year and $50 million in year three.
The NDP platform proposes $2 million next year in new spending for legal aid through “community partnerships,” rising to $5 million the following year and $10 million in 2015/16.
Crime prevention and restorative justice programs would get an extra $2 million each in the first year of an NDP government. Legal aid spending would increase $2 million this year, $5 million next year and $10 million in year three.
The NDP budget totals include no new money for public service wage increases or capital projects beyond those that are already committed to.