Ahead of this month’s provincial election, the Peninsula News Review asked your candidates what they believe the biggest issues are facing the Saanich North and the Islands riding and the province. Here are their responses.
Zeb King – NDP: COVID-19 is the biggest challenge facing our communities—here in Saanich North and the Islands and indeed right across our province. People are worried about their loved ones and uncertain about the future. As we work together toward economic recovery, we need a plan that helps those who need it most, including seniors, families and small businesses.
In this election, you have the opportunity to choose who you want to lead British Columbia through this pandemic. John Horgan’s plan keeps British Columbia moving forward and ensures everyone benefits from the recovery. It provides a one-time pandemic recovery benefit for families ($1,000) and individuals ($500); it improves public health care by training more doctors and nurses, as well as a 10-year cancer plan; and it helps families with kids by expanding $10 a day childcare.
From Saltspring to Sidney, small businesses across our riding will benefit from a 15 per cent refundable tax credit to help them grow and rehire, and a $300 million grant program for those who have been hardest hit.
As a longtime Central Saanich councillor, and climate change leader, I have worked tirelessly to represent our community. As your MLA and a member of John’s team, I will work hard every day to listen to your concerns, connect people to the supports they need, and build a recovery that includes everyone.
I also recognize that the next few years are critical in reducing climate pollution and moving toward cleaner energy. In my five terms on Central Saanich council, climate change action was among my top priorities. As our representative in Victoria, I am determined to help move the CleanBC Climate Change strategy forward to ensure our clean air, land and water are protected.
Finally, we must continue moving forward in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Under John Horgan’s leadership, B.C. became the first province to enshrine UNDRIP in law. But there’s so much more to do as we work toward greater self-determination for Indigenous peoples and communities.
A lot of progress has been made over the pass three and a half years to improve health care, create jobs and opportunities, and make life more affordable. Now more than ever we need to invest in people and keep moving our province forward. On Oct. 24, I ask for your support to serve as MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
Adam Olsen – Green: In Saanich North and the Islands, we see issues that reflect the range of our unique and diverse communities. The needs of the Saanich Peninsula are not necessarily the same as those on Pender Island. While there are a range of opinions of what the main issues are, there are common themes.
Transportation is a critical issue for us. Residents of the Gulf Islands are familiar with the challenges of the ferry system. They are our highways, and they are how people get from their home to school and work and back again everyday. Ferries connect people to their critical health care, their family, and a range of professional services like the bank that people on Saanich Peninsula take for granted. Ferries must be convenient and reliable. The same can be said for public transit on the Saanich Peninsula. The decision to freeze investments in BC Transit will have an impact on affordability and quality of life. Better transit services is a key request of business owners whose employees help create $1 billion in economic activity.
Another major issue is primary health care. There are over 10,000 people on the Saanich Peninsula without a primary care physician. Before this snap election, when Adrian Dix was the minister of health, we met on a number of occasions to discuss this situation. His response was that the government was hiring hundreds of family practice doctors, nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists to ease the crisis. There have been modest steps forward locally but the NDP’s confrontational approach with local doctors, and a sudden shift from longitudinal to urgent care has slowed the process down.
Education is also a concern in our riding – not just for parents and students, but for the entire family. Quality education sets our kids or grandkids up for success in life. This requires a well-funded and well-supported school system. Education has been disrupted by COVID-19 but as we saw in fall 2019, the government’s approach with our educators needs to change. We need to support families with a life-long continuum of education from early childhood to post-secondary and retraining for adults in transition.
These are certainly not the only issues in our riding. Concerns around governance and the environment also frequently came to my attention as the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
The solutions are complex and through respect, relationships, and an accountable government we will continue our work to create a better future together.
Stephen Roberts – Liberal: The biggest issue in this election is the ongoing impact of the pandemic, which is touching every part of our lives. As a province, but especially here on the Peninsula and in the Gulf Islands, we’ve collectively done a great job following the advice of medical professionals like Dr. Bonnie Henry. We need to continue doing what we can to reduce infections and flatten the curve. Unfortunately, that comes with a real price in economic and social impacts.
The constant background stress of dealing with a global pandemic is having an impact on our mental health, our kids are having to adopt to new realities in school, the economy is being stressed to the breaking point and we’ve seen an increase in social disorder and crime. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of affordable housing and equitable access to health care – areas I’m particularly passionate about.
B.C. lost 150,000 jobs in tourism alone this year and those may not reappear in the near term. The BC Liberal party is the only party with a plan to restore confidence and rebuild B.C. We will cut the PST and small business income tax to encourage spending and give local small businesses a boost. Our plan will keep seniors in their homes. It will keep communities safe and provide supports to those in need. Our plan will increase insurance options for drivers. All of these elements have one thing in common – putting economic power in the hands of those who can use it best – British Columbians.
Here in Saanich North and the Islands, we have a diverse economy built on tourism, creative industries, agriculture and light industry. We’re a transportation hub for the entire region. It’s a complex and growing region that needs a champion for economic recovery. I’ll be that champion. Please mark your ballot for me, Stephen P Roberts.
Election day is Oct. 24 with advance polls open Oct. 15 to 21 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Find more election coverage online at peninsulanewsreview.com/tag/bc-votes-2020/.
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