Enderby residents now have answers to their top questions from the three candidates in the Shuswap riding, days before the provincial election.
The Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce organized a mail-in candidates forum ahead of the Oct. 24 election, inviting residents to submit their questions for incumbent B.C. Liberal candidate Greg Kyllo, Sylvia Lindgren of the NDP and Green candidate Owen Madden. The candidates provided their answers in videos that were published to the chamber’s website on Tuesday.
Vying for his third term as Shuswap MLA, Kyllo highlighted the BC Liberals’ plan for a “PST holiday” that would eliminate the provincial sales tax for one year and reduce it to three per cent in subsequent years, “until our economy gets back on track.”
Kyllo said ICBC rates have climbed under the NDP government over the last three years, adding his party would open the door to private companies to compete with the crown corporation.
“When we see increased levels of competition, prices typically come down,” he said.
On increasing crime rates, Kyllo pointed to his party’s plan to add $58 million annually to hire an additional 100 RCMP officers, as well as 200 social workers to assist with police calls. He cited plans to expand the Car 40 program in Kamloops, which pairs a mental health practitioner with an RCMP officer to respond to calls involving mental health situations.
“There are folks who have underlying health or mental health challenges, and locking them up … is not necessarily the right place for those individuals,” he said.
Kyllo named support for seniors as a “pillar” of the BC Liberal platform. He said his party would invest $1 billion in capital funding over the next five years to increase the number of senior care facilities, with an emphasis of creating single-room occupancies in those facilities.
He also mentioned his party’s plan for a $7,000 annual tax credit for seniors, to be used for in-home care or renovations to make their homes more senior-friendly.
“It’s a time when I think the safest and the best place for our seniors population is to assist them to age in their own home, not necessarily to be moving them into an institution, especially in light of COVID.”
Lindgren started with a question on how she would advocate for the rights of Indigenous people, and made clear that she’s unafraid to challenge the status quo.
“I will do everything in my power to push the government to work towards a new story, a better future, and a fairer society in which the people of this province are all recognized in the constitution and live together under a fair justice system,” she said.
Lindgren touched upon funding concerns faced by School District 83. She said enrolment in the school district has been impacted by the pandemic, but pointed to the province’s provision of $45.6 million to implement safety measures in schools and $3 million for technology needed for this year’s unprecedented return to the classrooms.
“As a staff member at School District 83 I feel that the district and unions have worked very hard to provide as safe an environment as possible,” she said. “The safety of the children and staff in our schools is of utmost importance.”
On transit, Lindgren said residents in rural areas such as Enderby are at a real disadvantage.
“It’s an expensive service to provide while our density is very low,” she said. “All levels of government need to recognize the needs of their unique regions and work towards unique solutions that work for them.”
Lindgren agreed that supports for seniors and people with disabilities are “significantly underfunded,” adding the best solutions would come from the federal level in the form of national pharmacare and dental plans, as well as better coverage for people with diabetes and hearing loss.
“Initiatives like that would have an immediate effect on the cost of living for seniors and those who can’t work, and would help lift them out of poverty,” she said.
In response to a question concerning a lack of doctors in Enderby, Lindgren criticized cuts to health care spending by past B.C. Liberal governments, adding her party has committed to opening a medical school at Simon Fraser University to address doctor shortages in the province.
Madden focused his response on a question about the province’s use of fossil fuels over the next decade. The Green candidate and Enderby farmer endorsed the CleanBC plan created by the previous Green-NDP coalition government, which sets goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels and retrofitting homes to be more energy-efficient.
“Climate change is real, it’s here, we’re driving it as humans in our activities around burning fossil fuels, and the good news is we can change course,” he said. “We can’t afford to build an economy around fossil fuels anymore, and the world knows that and is moving on.”
The cost of a future climate calamity will go beyond skyrocketing property insurance rates, Madden said.
Madden said his party believes in a “just transition” away from fossil fuels. He said he’s aware of the many people who work in B.C.’s oil and gas industry, adding his party would focus on re-training workers in the gas fields of the Peace region and across northeastern B.C. towards renewable energy skillsets.
“We would build out an economy that is durable, stable, that generates lots of jobs and even generates a strong energy industry — just not the fossil fuel type,” he said.
For seniors and other residents who may not be able to view the videos online, staff at the Enderby chamber will be airing the videos at local seniors centres in the lead-up to election day.