I recently presented my local British Columbia MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly), Hon. David Eby, with a few questions that my neighbours wanted him to answer. These questions and his answers follow below. Please note that David is up for re-election on October 24th. You can learn more about the voting process for this election here.
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Question: What can you do to ensure honest, science-based communication and guidelines (for example, related to pandemic information) can be delivered if NDP gains the majority?
Answer: I support the government’s approach of using evidence-based policy and science to guide our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and know that the role of government is to ensure that healthcare responses like testing, contact tracing and treatment are universal, public and accessible. British Columbia has the lowest mortality of any province or state over 5 million people in North America, and under an NDP government, the province will continue following expert advice to make sure we remain safe and healthy. I believe in providing public health officials the platform and the support that they need to communicate health information to the public quickly and efficiently.
Question: Why is there no oversight over UBC childcare? They are removing children with special needs from their care.
Answer: For complaints related to UBC childcare, starting with internal processes is often a requirement of external watchdogs. They have limited resources so expect that concerns will be raised first with the sponsoring agency, in this case, UBC, and in other cases, the YMCA or other childcare service providers. Students with complaints related to UBC can go to the UBC Ombuds office at https://ombudsoffice.ubc.ca/ for assistance and referral. Concerns about UBC policy can be sent to the President of UBC at https://president.ubc.ca/contact/ or the Board of Governors at UBC at email@example.com. Once UBC internal processes have been exhausted, there are several external oversight agencies that may be able to assist.
The BC NDP has enhanced oversight of childcare facilities in the province since being elected. Complaints about childcare providers related to policy, health and safety can be filed with the relevant health authority that oversees the childcare provider at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/caring-for-young-children/reporting-on-child-care-facilities/making-a-complaint-about-a-licensed-child-day-care-facility. Complaints in the nature of a human rights complaint related to discrimination against a child or group of children can be brought to the attention of the Human Rights Commissioner in BC (an office our government re-established) at https://bchumanrights.ca/, and formal complaints can be filed with the Human Rights Tribunal at http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/. You may also consider reaching out to BC’s Child and Youth advocate at https://rcybc.ca/.
Question: Some residents are concerned about the high level of waste generated at UBC, including waste caused by student turnover such as furniture (etc.) left behind. What will you and the NDP do to promote environmental sustainability and reduce waste?
Answer: I support the province working in partnership with communities to give them the support they need to handle local issues like reducing waste. Under the BC NDP, the provincial government is already demonstrating this approach and taking steps to reduce waste and stop pollution in our communities. For example, recent government actions have laid the groundwork to allow local governments to ban certain types of plastic products, such as shopping bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene foam take-out containers, and we have also partnered with the federal and local governments on a new Organics Infrastructure Program, which will help communities divert organic waste away from landfills. UBC Sustainability also has the Zero Waste Action Plan, which you can read more about at: https://sustain.ubc.ca/campus/recycling-waste/zero-waste-action-plan.
Question: What concrete steps is the government taking to address the severe financial difficulties of students with families beyond interest free loans?
Answer: Higher education is extremely costly, and I know that students are struggling more than ever to keep up with tuition and basic living expenses, especially in Vancouver. Students with young families face additional challenges like childcare. That’s why the BC NDP is committed to helping make life more affordable for students and their families through a number of initiatives. Some examples include:
- Reestablishing the needs-based student grants, which were cancelled by the BC Liberals, to make post-secondary education and training more affordable;
- Investing $12 million to support graduate degree scholarships for Masters and Doctoral degree students;
- Supporting and delivering in partnership with UBC the development of hundreds of new units of student rental housing to assist students in reducing transportation and off-campus housing costs; and
- Investing in open education resources, including more open textbooks for students and instructors, thus reducing the burden of cost and leveling the playing field for students at post-secondary institutions across the province.
In order to help students with young families, a number of other initiatives have been undertaken to address affordability for families more broadly, including:
- Eliminating MSP premiums, which saves the average family of four $2,500/year;
- Investing a record $1.3 billion in child care over three years in order to build the foundation for a universal child care system that will give B.C. parents access to affordable, quality child care when they want or need it; and
- Supporting and delivering, in partnership with UBC, the development of more than 100 new childcare spaces at UBC for faculty, staff, students and the public, including badly needed infant care spaces.
Question: Would the BC NDP support BC midwives by committing to support a stable and sustainable contract that compensates midwives fairly?
Answer: I support the vital role that midwives play in healthcare for expecting parents in our community and province. British Columbia has the highest rate of midwife-assisted births in Canada, so I know that British Columbians share my understanding that a midwife can help many new families navigate the challenges and enjoy the magic of the birth of a new child. I am very grateful to the brave work of community midwives supporting new parents throughout the pandemic, and will always advocate for fair support for midwives and the important work that they do.