B.C. Green Party would run deficits to pay for platform

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In an ambitious platform, the B.C. Green Party has laid out plans to run a deficit of $146 million dollars in its first full year in office. But — based mainly on increased carbon tax revenues  — the party commits in its platform released Monday to running a surplus in its fourth year in office. 

"Life is getting harder for many British Columbians and the B.C. Liberal prescription is to stay the course. It reminds one of the old definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," writes Weaver in a letter at the top of the platform document.

"The B.C. Liberals have spent 16 years getting us to this place and, in those same 16 years, the B.C. NDP have failed to provide British Columbians with a credible alternative."

The plan is based on the B.C. Green Party's commitment to increase the carbon tax for four years starting on January 1, 2018. The party is counting on the higher tax to bring in an additional $1.7 billion over four years.

"The central pillar of our strategy is putting a price on carbon that maintains the impetus to reduce consumption of fossil fuels," reads the platform section on climate action. "Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions shows genuine leadership, benefits the environment, takes advantage of new business opportunities and increases the efficiency of our traditional resource industries."

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Increase in disability rates, income assistance

The party would spend $711 million in capital funding in both the 2018/19 and 2019/20 fiscal year on affordable housing , long-term care and public transit.

The plan is also heavy on ensuring "all people have economic stability." This includes a "transition to livable incomes with an increase in persons with disabilities, income assistance and shelter allowance rates."

The Green Party would increase those rates by 10 per cent effective October 1, 2017, rising to 50 per cent above the current level on April 1, 2020. The estimated cost of the program is $79 million in 2017/18, rising to $788 million in 2020/21.

The Greens would also introduce a basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24, who have aged out of the provincial foster care system. The party estimates the cost is $60 million per year. 

The platform also commits to a new commission that would be responsible for establishing a new minimum wage and overseeing regular rate reviews. 

"If British Columbians are to be able to respond to the opportunities of the 21st century in a bold and entrepreneurial fashion, we must eliminate the fear of uncertainty that is brought by income insecurity," reads the platform.

Expand school system to 3 and 4 year olds

The Greens are also calling for sweeping changes to the education system and early childhood education. The party is committing to up to 25 hours of free early childhood education for three and four year-olds. 

On top of that the party is promising "free daycare for working parents with children under age three." The early childhood education funding would go up from $495 million in 2017/18 to $1.38 billion in 2020/21. 

The Greens would also increase funding for schools, beginning in 2017/18 at $220 million and rising to $1.46 billion in 2020/21.

Roll MSP premiums into income tax

On Medical Service Plan premiums, the Greens would roll the health tax directly into the payroll tax and personal income tax and those who make more, would pay more.

The platform calls for an aggressive tax on foreign buyers. The Greens would increase the 15 per cent foreign home buyers tax to 30 per cent and would apply it across British Columbia.

The party also wants to change the property transfer tax system by introducing a sliding scale of rates from 0% on properties under $200,000 to 12% on properties over $3.0 million.