Maple Ridge-Mission riding candidates share their views

Four contenders discuss transit, health care, education and the economy

  • May. 8, 2013 6:00 a.m.

The Mission Record sent a questionnaire to each candidate running in Mission’s two ridings. This week we are featuring the responses from Maple Ridge-Mission.

The questions and answers are listed below:

Discuss  your transit plans to move commuters more efficiently across the region.

Mike Bocking, BC NDP

• Use carbon tax revenue to fight against climate change through investment in improving and expanding public transit, including the West Coast Express.

• Improve the governance of TransLink by inviting local representatives back to the table to improve regional transit and solve cross- jurisdictional issues like those faced by Maple Ridge and Mission, which has so far prevented a bus route from running between Mission and Maple Ridge.

Marc Dalton, BC Liberal

I will continue to work with regional representatives and authorities to enhance public transportation between Maple Ridge and Mission,  Mission and Abbotsford and increased West Coast Express service.  Regionally, tremendous provincial investments have been made to improve commuting including the $3.1 billion Trans Canada and Port Mann Bridge (which now has rapid-bus service for the first time in decades), the completed Canada Line and under-construction Evergreen Line. We will soon have the most extensive light-rail transit system in Canada and I will work to see it expanded into the Fraser Valley to serve the Mission-Abbotsford corridor.

Alex Pope, BC Green Party

Transit needs to be a higher priority for funding. We spend billions of dollars on new highways while many people are wanting to use a less-expensive alternative to their automobile. This riding has the additional challenge that TransLink only services half of the riding. As a result, the options to travel between Maple Ridge and Mission is limited to the West Coast Express, which runs on a limited rush-hour schedule. It is important that the Central Fraser Valley Transit system integrate better with TransLink. The WCE contract coming up for renewal in 2015; we need to look at how we can expand this service in a cost-effective manner and integrate it with the soon-to-be-built Evergreen Line.

Chad Thompson, BC Conservative

The governance of TransLink needs to be made more accountable, and we will work towards that goal.

What changes in health care need to be made to ensure long term sustainability?

MB: • Enable more seniors and people with chronic disabilities and complex conditions to receive home support and community care.

• Improve the standard of residential care for seniors who cannot remain at home

• Improve child and youth mental health treatment and outreach services.

• Redefine the role of the Health Quality Council, refocus its activities on innovation and improvement to care and control health care costs, by restoring and expanding programs that reduce the cost of prescription medications and protect patients from adverse drug reactions.

MD: The Mission Memorial multi-million dollar expansion to include a Campus of Care and the Community Health Centre is a prototype for all British Columbia. I want to see this hospital to continue to be on the cutting-edge of providing health care services.

We will continue to fund the GP for Me program which allows every British Columbian family to have a doctor by 2015. We have more than doubled the training spaces for new doctors and nurses and creating more nurse practitioner positions. We will invest $2.2 billion more in the next three years to enhance our medical system.

AP: Health care funding should be expanded to include preventative medicine services. This could actually save us money in the long run as doctors would be able to identify potential health issues earlier and start early treatment.  In addition, we need to improve

and expand on services to provide appropriate care for people at home, which is less expensive than hospitalizing them, and provide the appropriate level of care for people who do require treatment outside the home.  For example, we need to increase the number of long-term care beds so that people are not using more expensive hospital beds while waiting for an available long-term care placement.

CT: We need to ensure that dollars are spent on front-line care rather than mid-level bureaucracy.  People need to know that they have access to needed care in the province.

How would you improve education to B.C. students?

MB: • Provide students with the classroom support they need, and hire new teachers, education assistants, librarians and counsellors.

• Put additional focus on students with special needs, Aboriginal students and ESL students.

• Restore provincial support for the BC Program for the Awareness and Learning of Science (Science World)

• Replace the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test with improved assessment tools resulting from consultation with parents, teachers and school boards.

• Take real action on bullying by creating province-wide standards for schools codes of conduct.

MD: I will continue to support building a framework to bring peace in our education system through a 10 year collective agreement with the B.C. Teachers Federation. I believe in committing significant funds to address classroom size and composition challenges across the province. We have already implemented full-day kindergarten along with an extensive expansion of StrongStart BC. I am proud to say the StrongStart had its inception in Mission. I support educational alternatives within the public and independent school systems. We are launching free on-line textbooks and I support having competitive tuition rates with other provinces.

AP: Quebec has a successful $7/day daycare program that has been shown to, over the long term, have a positive economic impact – a greater impact than the funds that are spent on it.  I am of the opinion that we should look at implementing something similar in BC. The long-term goal of the Green Party of British Columbia is that public education be universal and free at every level: primary, secondary and post-secondary. I have some concerns about post-secondary

education being provided for free. I would suggest that we still charge a fee for post-secondary education, funded by a combination of bursaries and loans.

CT: We have proposed a stable funding system broader than the current system where funding is reviewed every year.  In addition, we will make sure that parents are more involved in the education process.

What are your ideas to grow B.C.’s economy?

MB: • Increase B.C.’s domestic and foreign production tax credit programs to create jobs in film, TV and digital media.

• Enhance B.C.’s venture capital programs to recruit, retain and repatriate high-level technology talent.

• Undertake a comprehensive review to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws.

• Renew B.C.’s trade and export strategy with regional and sector-specific goals.

• Improve B.C.’s skills training and apprenticeship system.

• Expand the Buy B.C. marketing program.

• Support Destination B.C. as BC’s tourism marketer.

• Implement the B.C. Small Business Accord.

• Recognize credentials of foreign-trained professionals.

• Establish a “Local Business First” government procurement policy.

MD: A strong economy is critical for all British Columbians. It’s built on a responsible government that keeps tax rates low and maintains a Triple A credit rating, to ensure businesses and families can prosper. I recognize that small businesses is the back bone of our communities and employ over a million people. To help small businesses, we will reduce their tax by 40 per cent. We will promote the development and prosperity of our natural resource sector including LNG and mining. We will continue to promote foreign trade and the expansion of our high tech sector.

AP: The Green Party of British Columbia recognizes the importance of small business in our communities. Ninety-eight per cent of all businesses in B.C. are small to mid-sized and we believe that the future health and stability of our province’s economy lies in their success. They invest money directly into the communities where they operate. They are an important part of community spirit and quality of life. We will work with local governments to ensure small businesses have every chance to succeed.

CT: We approach growth with the intent of approving rather than denying development proposals.  However, this must be done in an environmentally responsible way.