BC NDP would expand post-secondary grant if re-elected; Liberals would crack down on tent cities

All three of B.C.’s major political parties made commitments on the campaign trail on Thursday.

BC NDP leader John Horgan was in Vancouver to announce plans to expand the BC Access Grant for post-secondary students if re-elected.

The program would include more financial support for eligible students, and more students would be eligible to access as much as $4,000 a year to help pay for tuition, textbooks, and supplies.

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The plan was short on details, as Horgan again referred to his party releasing its platform next week.

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He also pledged to create an additional 2,000 spaces at post-secondary institutions across B.C. in technology-related programs.

“To build a recovery that’s felt by everyone, we will invest in training young people for the opportunities of today and the future,” said Horgan, referring to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These new spaces will give more students the access to the skills needed to succeed in B.C.’s growing tech sector.”

Also in Vancouver, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson released part of his much anticipated plan on community safety and tent cities.

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Wilkinson has spent much of the campaign so far focused on the issue and is committing to end homeless camps in city parks.

The courts have ruled multiple times that governments cannot legally ban the activity, however.

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A BC Liberal government would work more closely with municipalities, police and community organizations to focus on restricting the camping, enforcing the ban on unsafe roadside panhandling, and exploring alternatives to mental health and substance calls.

“Our most vulnerable citizens are being left on the streets of our cities – many suffering from brain injuries, addictions, and untreated mental illness. As a trained physician, I know we need to treat the underlying medical causes of mental illness and addictions. We need to prevent harm to everyone involved,” Wilkinson said.

“The NDP have abandoned these neighbourhoods and done nothing more than warehouse people who are seriously ill. We must do better.”

BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau, who was in Sidney on Vancouver Island, announced her commitment to shift away from a for-profit model in long-term care homes.

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The Greens are promising to ensure taxpayers’ money is only supporting direct care for seniors, and to enhance accountability by requiring annual inspections, financial statements and audited expense reports.

“The discrepancy in care between for-profit and not-for-profit contracted care is unacceptable,” Furstenau said.

“Large profit-motivated contractors with little or no connection to our communities simply do not provide the same quality of care as public and local non-profit providers.”

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