The Green Party of Nova Scotia has launched its platform with 20 days to go before the provincial election, with ideas that include a guaranteed income, the end of open-pen fish farming and fixed election dates.
Interim party leader Jessica Alexander called a guaranteed liveable income "the only just way forward."
"Poverty is incredibly expensive for our society," Alexander said in an interview Wednesday. "We pay for it through increased health costs, we pay for it through increased strain on our criminal justice system, we pay for it through lost productivity. There are a lot of ways in which we are already paying for a great deal of a basic income program."
The party proposes beginning with a guaranteed income starting at $18,329 per year for every adult, increasing to $20,000 over four years.
The guaranteed income would replace a program like income assistance, which currently tops out at about $16,716 per year for a household of three or more.
'Big tent' ideas
People who already earn income would see the benefit gradually reduced the more they earn, so the highest earners would not receive the benefit at all.
Relying on calculations done by the federal parliamentary budget officer and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Greens believe the net annual cost of such a program would be $1.317 billion, accounting for programs that would be replaced by the guaranteed income. The party says it would save $278.7 million in the health care and justice systems, which it estimates to be a cost of poverty.
The party is also proposing measures such as eliminating student tuition fees, high-speed internet access for everyone, free public transit, universal dental care, up to 10 paid sick days, lowering the voting age to 16, moving from the RCMP to a provincial police force, a universal child-care program, fixed election dates and a four-day work week.
The party is proposing to continue with rent control as a temporary emergency measure for the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it should be studied and possibly extended in the future.
Alexander said while the Greens were able to research the cost of a guaranteed income, the other ideas have not been costed.
"We don't have the raw data. We don't have access to that as a fourth-place political party," Alexander said. "I would be doing what the other political parties are doing, which is wildly stabbing in the dark at dollar values, and that's something I wouldn't want to do at this point."
Some of the measures align with promises in other parties' platforms, and Alexander said if Green MLAs are elected she hopes to build alliances on those issues.
"We don't have an entire amount of overlap with any one party, but I've been in conversation with members of the Progressive Conservative Party, Liberal Party, NDP, for sure we have some overlap there," she said. "I've even been in touch with the Atlantica Party.
"We're looking forward to being able to collaborate."
The Green platform was put together by volunteers who work together to develop policies, and Alexander acknowledged the platform may not appear "as slick and as polished" as the three major political parties.
"Greens look messy," she said. "It's because we have a big tent, and no fence. When people want to participate on something, yes, some of that will show.
"We should have more people contributing. We should have young people that have written parts of the platform; all parties should have that, and I'm sad if they don't. I'm sad if they outsource that, because your best ideas come from the people inside your party."
On its traditional environmental base, the Green platform has much to say. The Greens promise to stop the sale of Owls Head provincial park, and to place an immediate moratorium on open-pen fish farming.
While the party believes land-based farms can be done in an environmentally responsible way, it says ocean-based farms should be phased out by 2025.
The party says it will immediately acknowledge the climate crisis as an emergency and allocate resources for all government departments to adapt to climate change.
Alexander said this doesn't necessarily mean declaring an official state of emergency yet, but rather putting climate "at the top of our concern."
"As we're building new buildings, as we're developing coastline, as we are dealing with road structures and bridges to deal with the rising waters, these are all things that need a higher priority than they have had," she said.
The platform promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to zero by 2045. The current provincial commitment is 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero by 2050.
The Greens also want to ban single-use plastics in businesses and institutions, end all provincial subsidies to fossil fuel sectors, and eliminate clear cutting as a forestry practice.
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