Health Care

BC party leaders square off in first debate of election campaign

BC party leaders square off in first debate of election campaign

- John Horgan campaigned at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he promoted his plan to eliminate interest on student loans and offer a $1,000 completion grant to people who finish their studies.

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, in contrast, has been sitting politely and waiting for his turn.

Horgan said the platform is based on the financial figures in the government's spring budget, telling Clark that Finance Minister Michael de Jong's analysis of the budget released Wednesday was an embarrassment.

Global News Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey says we should be paying attention to where the leaders are spending their time this week, especially Horgan and Clark.

NDP Leader John Horgan on Monday said that he will establish a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to help people suffering from mental illness or addictions, as part of the BC NDP's commitment to improve the services people count on.

The NDP platform commits to balancing the budget this year and the following two years, but the party says it is concerned that the Liberals' pre-election budget does not reflect real needs in those years.

In response, Clark said Horgan wouldn't deliver the NDP's daycare plan until most kids in daycare now "have a driver's license".

The Liberals say the NDP platform contains costs of $6.5 billion over four years that the party has not accounted for.

Weaver said his party would ease rising housing costs in Metro Vancouver by doubling a tax on foreign buyers to 30 per cent. Clark referred to NDP finance critic Carole James' comment the previous day that the revenue of more than $1 billion a year would be shifted to the "progressive" tax system.

Asked if Vancouver was any different than other major cities around the world where housing prices have risen dramatically, he replied: "It has got out of hand here in British Columbia because of the fact that the issue of affordability was ignored".

Clark, wearing a blue hard hat while campaigning in Surrey, said leading the country in job creation and economic growth and the New Democrats threaten that progress.

"To be able to pay for a home, you need a job", Clark said.

"Are you going to eliminate MSPs?"

Horgan fired back, interrupting the premier to question why she believes renters are "second class citizens". "We are a jobs focused government", said Ms. Clark, declaring she wants to keep the Site C workers on their jobs.

"Youth unemployment was higher than anywhere west of Quebec".

Horgan adds these centres would fill the gap for the 700,000 British Columbians without a family doctor.

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