What solutions do Nelson/Creston candidates have to help Generation Squeeze?
Week two is complete in B.C. Provincial Election.
The Nelson Dailyis giving constituents in Nelson/Creston riding a chance to see what the three candidates — incumbent Michelle Mungall of the BC NDP, Liberal Greg Garbula and Sjeng Derkx of the Green Party of BC — are offering when voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 14 with a Question of the Week.
Candidate answers will be on The Nelson Daily site every Monday leading up to Election Day.
Today the question put to the candidates involves Generation Squeeze.
UBC Academic Paul Kershaw has identified a new generation, Generation Squeeze (www.gensqueeze.ca).
These are the under 45 year olds caught between lower incomes and higher costs for housing, tuition, child care and savings for retirement.
How would you improve the local economy so that Generation Squeeze could live in Nelson and area?
Greg Garbula, BC Liberals
I agree 100%. The term Generation Squeeze is perfect and could have been coined for Nelson several years ago. Employment prospects for young people have been poor in our area, while the rising home prices are driving up the cost of rental units. It makes it very difficult for young people to stay in Nelson. We continue to lose the majority of our middle demographic to other provinces or other areas in BC.
It hasn’t always been this way. There was a time when Nelson was a busy hub of employment in industry and secondary business. Our city was built on forestry, mining and exploration, with tourism coming more recently. As there is no possible way to reduce the value of our housing market in one of the most beautiful and desirable places on earth – we must return Nelson’s vitality through environmentally responsible industry and development. More work + Better wages = higher quality of life.
If I am elected MLA I will actively seek and support job creation and prosperity in our region so that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to live their lives here, at home. Generation Squeeze is one of the main reasons that I decided to run for MLA. My own children are feeling it. Are yours?
Sjeng Derkx, Green Party of BC
I am passionate about the need to improve our local economy. Nelson-Creston is 84th out of 85 ridings when it comes to family incomes. We are at the bottom of the heap, and that is as unacceptable as it is unnecessary.
As your MLA my highest priority will be to help bring new economic opportunities and new jobs to our area. This will not only help generation squeeze, it will help everybody. We need economic opportunities here because families should not be forced to split because mom or dad has to go to work in the Tar Sands. Improving the local economy alone however, unlike your question suggests, will not solve all the issues young families are facing today. Stagnating incomes, the high cost of housing, skyrocketing tuition fees and reduced social security policies mean that 10% to 15% of young families in BC live in poverty.
Greens believe we need to help young families by providing a guaranteed livable income, so no families with children fall between the cracks. We need creative solutions for building affordable housing, such as cooperative housing, making publicly owned land available and investing in below market rental units.
Many young families today need two incomes to make ends meet. Greens want to encourage employers to allow for more flexible working hours. Government needs to finally fulfill the long-standing promise of affordable, quality daycare. Cooperation between the local, provincial and federal governments will be needed to implement these measures, and Greens will work relentlessly to make that happen.
Michelle Mungall, BC NDP
Since first meeting Dr. Kershaw, the man behind the idea of “generation squeeze” four years ago as a member of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, I have been following his work. Generation Squeeze is my generation. My peer group is struggling with higher education costs, higher housing costs and a very different employment outlook then that of our parents.
In Nelson-Creston my peers in generation squeeze are struggling to obtain access to childcare, access to affordable post secondary education and many are even struggling to make ends meet. My BCNDP colleagues and I have a specific plan with practical steps to address the very issues faced by generation squeeze.
– Improving access and affordability of childcare by increasing the number of childcare spaces and reducing fees for existing reducing fees for existing licensed infant and toddler care by 20 per cent, saving families an average of $2,000 per year.
– Helping individuals access post secondary education through $100 million in non-repayable needs-based grants for students
– Starting a Family Bonus plan that would combat BC’s embarrassing rate of child poverty, adding up to $829 of income per child for low-income families
– Expanding affordable housing by building up to 1,500 units of affordable non-profit, co-operative and rental housing for low- and moderate-income families
While local economic development is often the priority of local governments, there is much the province can do to facilitate job creation and building local markets. That is why the BCNDP plans to support local businesses with a Buy BC marketing program for locally-made goods, increase investment in the arts, and rebuild our forestry sector for BC jobs.
Our plan says what we will do and how we will pay for it. It is available in full at www.bcndp.ca.
British Columbia’s greatest resource is its people. I am committed to working for Nelson-Creston so that we see change for the better in BC.