The Mission Record put out a questionnaire to each candidate running in Mission’s two ridings. This week we’ll feature the responses from Abbotsford-Mission.
The answers are below:
1. How should gravel removal be managed in B.C.?
I would want to amend the B.C. Mines Act. The act doesn’t reflect protection for communities and all that depend on our watersheds like habitat for wildlife and tourism. The act prevails over and has exemptions in the Water Act and does not address cumulative impacts to our watersheds and aquifers. There are gravel mines at the base of Norrish Creek and an even larger mining zone proposed through the Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) that I believe could impact the source of our water. I believe we have enough gravel already permitted for our needs from all sources for over 100 years unless there are plans to ship it away.
No new permits should be issued in close proximity to residences or active farms. Anyone close enough to the pit who might be genuinely affected by dust or noise pollution, should be asked to vote on the issuance of a specific permit. The vote can be taken by telephone or Internet, but each affected person must be contacted. As in any democracy, a simple majority carries the vote.
BC Green Party
Gravel extraction from the Fraser River interferes with and disturbs a complex ecosystem. The gravel reach has evolved over thousands of years providing a rich riparian habitat. Some argue that gravel mining would mitigate flood risk, and throw the public safety card into this debate. There is, however, no evidence that gravel mining has anything to do with reducing flood risk. A new plan for river management is needed. The plan must preserve the ecology of the river; protect people and property from flooding, and makes good economic sense. The Green Party provides the best guarantee of balancing all of these issues.
Gravel is a crucial component to our province. It is used to build and maintain our infrastructure and it is vital to our construction industry. Gravel permits are issued only when all of the technical, health, environmental and safety standards are satisfied. Local governments participate in the process — they can regulate activities through bylaws, such as those for zoning, traffic of soil removal. If elected, I will listen carefully to all perspectives about gravel removal and will work closely with our local representatives, industry and community and ensure our voice is heard in Victoria.
BC Excalibur Party
As with any project, the government should ensure that they are fully informed before making any decision. The real question is, does the gravel create a risk of flood? In sensitive fish spawning grounds, can this risk be neutralized by building the embankment, or widening the river? You can’t eat gravel. The government needs to develop a comprehensive gravel control plan, one that creates a balance between risk of flood, and the danger that gravel removal poses to fish habitats. Gravel is also necessary as it provides a natural filtering method for our water.
In many ways the gravel issue is a microcosm of the many issues facing our province. I believe there must be a balance between economic growth, environmental concerns and the impact on neighbourhoods. Consultation is needed between the concerned groups, the civic leaders and the province. A comprehensive gravel management plan with public input must be created.
I would put a moratorium on the removal of gravel from the Fraser River — which is occurring mainly in the Chilliwack area. I would do this because a lot of the locations where this gravel has been removed is prime sturgeon and salmon spawning area. Sturgeon and salmon are a national heritage; their spawning area should be protected. I would require for further input from local fish and game clubs and government fishery biologists before any gravel was allowed to be removed from the Fraser or the Harrison River.
2. What changes in health care need to be made to ensure long term sustainability?
WB: Federal health care funding has been cut over the years while populations are growing. Formulas for funding should be based in large part on per capita especially with growing populations, with extra funds for regional specialties. Before the Fraser Health Authority took over Mission’s hospital it was one of the two best accredited hospitals in B.C. and well in the black for funds as well as being a full-service hospital. FHA has some very costly administration that I would want to look into, plus do a comparative assessment on whether health authorities have been the best value for our dollar.
RB: You cannot buy health. Health is superior to heath care. We are told that our current health care system is not sustainable. Obviously, we must concentrate on improving the lifelong health of our citizens. Prevention is the only logical way forward.
AF: Healthcare costs go up every year. Soon health care spending will be a full 50 per cent of the provincial budget. Many folks have no family doctor. Many live with pain and a declining medical condition as they wait on referrals for assessment, specialist appointments and operating room time. Our health care system could be the biggest issue facing any provincial government, and nobody talks about it. We need to be open to considering different ways of paying for services, and accept a private sector role in the delivery of some services.
SG: In order to preserve our health care system, the most important thing we can do is treat people sooner.
We know that the earlier an ailment is caught and treated, the better the outcome for the patient, and the cheaper the cost to the system.
Part of this strategy means finding ways to keep people healthier — which is why our government dramatically increased spending on health promotion.
Another key piece is our $132.4-million “A GP For Me” program, which aims to ensure that all citizens who want a family doctor are able to access one by 2015.
MH: Nurses and doctors cannot be forced to work 12-hour shifts, as it increases their chance of getting tired and making a mistake. We need to retrain/replace doctors who continually make “errors,” resulting in many a return visit for the same surgery, contributing to hospital overcrowding and cost. We need to stop the theft of medical supplies. The administration of hospitals needs streamlining to allow the hiring of more support staff. In a similar method to officer training in the military, specialized education grants should be provided to students, who afterward work for the government for five years at reduced pay.
PR: British Columbians are rightly proud of our health care system, but we can’t be complacent if we want to preserve and improve health care for future generations. I am hearing about the challenges of long lineups, access to doctors, and elder care. Residents have told me they are upset with the state of Mission Memorial Hospital — especially over the loss of their maternity ward and some medical specialists. The NDP will commit $70 million over three years to enable more seniors and people with chronic disabilities and complex conditions to receive home support and community care, and to boost the amount of care.
DS: The Fraser Health Authority only gets $1,585 per person every year, while Coastal Health gets $3,008 per person every year. I think we need to relook at the health funding formula to ensure people living in Abbotsford and Mission are treated equally and getting the health care that they are entitled to. B.C. also has fewer nurses per capita than any other province in the country and I am committed to training, hiring and retaining more nurses in B.C. I would also scrap the BC Liberal Pacific Carbon Trust which, in 2011, took $300,000 away from Abbotsford’s hospital and schools.
3. How would you improve education for BC students?
WB: I would want to bring the funds for programs back to where all schools would facilitate what is known as traditional school standards that can enhance learning skills. They were available while my son was in his early years but have since been eroding. Limit class sizes. Provide more affordable extended education that includes a more opportunities for new technologies training that we are lagging behind other countries in. I would look at funding through resources, but also cut wasteful spending like the huge amounts of increased government pre election advertising among other things.
RB: Teachers must be allowed to teach. In order for teachers to teach effectively, they must be protected and supported from any and all issues which distract them from teaching. For example, unruly students, aggressive parents and excessive paperwork.
AF: Our system does not meet the needs of individual learners and does not prepare kids for the job realities they will face. Conventional teaching styles are in conflict with different learning styles. If you are semantic (bookish) learner who wants a job in the old economy, you are in luck. If you learn differently, or if you aspire to work in the trades, or the arts, then you are probably out of luck. We need to get with it and provide an education system that not only meets student’s needs, but better prepares an economic and social future for all of B.C.
SG: Today’s BC Liberals will improve B.C.’s education system by keeping politics out of the classroom. Kids benefit when learning is not repeatedly disrupted by our inability to reach a negotiated deal. This is why we are proposing an innovative framework with new ideas on how we can achieve a 10-year agreement with teachers. We also know that many teachers enrich school communities by investing time and money into extracurricular sports and arts activities. Today’s BC Liberals will provide a new tax credit so teachers can claim up to $500, recognizing the extra time and effort they put into helping students.
MH: Encourage other students to join peer tutoring. Smaller classrooms and teacher’s aides, allowing teachers one-on-one time with their students. Education needs to be streamlined, offering students education in fields that they will actually use. Parents need time, so that they can teach their kids important basics such as personal planning, instead of the current generic planning courses schools offer. Our school system is trying to replace the role parents have in bringing up their children, and as we can see from the widespread drug use and other problems our students encounter, it is not working.
PR: As a father of three and as a school trustee I know a strong education system is the key to future economic growth. While I am confident that schools are doing the best they can for our children, the erosion of the educational system in the past decade has resulted in overcrowded classrooms, too few resources and cuts to special needs programs. BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced a commitment to a long-term investment of $100 million to skills training and to student grants to increase the affordability and accessibility of post secondary so our children have the skills for the future.
DS: I support a series of education reforms aimed at stabilizing funding and increasing parental input in the education system. The BC Conservatives’ policy document states: “The issues of the classroom should not be addressed on a province-wide scale between the provincial government and teachers, and must be delinked from the legitimate wage and benefit concerns of teachers. Classroom issues should be dealt with at the local level and involve parent advisory committees and local teachers’ associations. A BC Conservative government will also keep education funding stable over the next four years, which will allow for consistent multi-year planning by school boards.”
4. What are your ideas to grow BC’s economy?
WB: Invest in renewable energy and industries that don’t destroy so much of our most valuable potable water. Other countries are making great growth strides in new technologies that B.C. needs to do better in. We need to plan for sustainable economies which should include protecting local jobs in Free Trade deals as well as processing resources closer to source. We could also have a real economic boom if we had more low interest loan incentives, to build and rebuild for better energy conservation standards.
RB: We need to encourage free enterprise and individual initiative. Governments over the years have proven themselves incapable of creating and maintaining meaningful sustained employment. Governments must insure that timely, effective training is available, when and where necessary, to match people to the employment needs.
AF: Our economy must continue to change from from an industrial economy to a knowledge based economy, and one less dependent on fossil fuels. The Green Plan creates jobs that are more sustainable, and better for communities. We plan for jobs in creating alternatives to fossil fuel energy; housing and construction; local, sustainable and organic food production; ecological management and infrastructure; infrastructure; education, arts and knowledge. We want to grow our economy with a broad based approach. Smart government; fair taxes; investments in advanced technology and education; investment in important social issues within a context of environmental sustainability – all will strengthen communities and economic futures.
SG: Creating jobs is the best thing we can do to protect and secure a brighter future for B.C. families. Our BC Jobs Plan has three goals: work with employers, communities and post-secondary institutions to enable job creation across B.C., expand the markets for B.C.’s goods and services, and strengthen our infrastructure to get goods to market. Succeeding requires a commitment to fiscal discipline and skills training. Keeping public debt down is the key to making B.C. the economic engine of Canada, a place that countries around the world want to invest in and do business with
MH: I plan to bring the film industry back to B.C., connect the province through transit and rail, keep British Columbia beautiful, and grow small business. I plan to expand on our tourism opportunities by providing better connections and accessibility, while offering unique small business.
PR: We must encourage our residents to spend more money in our local economy. The NDP’s Feed BC program will put healthy, locally grown food on the plates of patients in BC hospitals and long-term facilities to improve diets and health outcomes. We must encourage small business, address the issue of cross border shopping, and create local jobs through skills and apprenticeship training (and assist them if finding work). Our plan starts by showing how we will pay for our promises, providing the certainty our economy needs. There will be no job-killing HST-like surprises after the election.
DS: I support the sustainable development of our natural resources. To ensure the viability of our farmers, I would continue supporting the supply management system for our local dairy and chicken farmers. B.C. is the only jurisdiction in North America that has a carbon tax. I believe that by phasing out the BC Liberal carbon tax — which is a tax on everything — over the next four years, that this will make B.C. a more business friendly province. Getting rid of the carbon tax not only will keep more money in the pockets of families, but will help farmers lower their operating expenses.