A cut to the PST or a one-time cash transfer – these are some of the ideas being floated by the main political parties during the election to help British Columbians recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Matt Pitcairn, BC Liberal candidate for Richmond-Steveston, said the first priority of his party, if elected to government, would be to keep businesses afloat and people employed.
One way would be to cut the PST for a year and then bring it up to three per cent in the second year – this, Pitcairn said, will put more money in people’s pockets and have them spending at local businesses to boost the economy.
The BC Liberals have also committed to a small-business tax cut of two per cent and bridge loans, he added.
“We are by no means out of the woods – there are many, many businesses in Richmond struggling,” Pitcairn said.
But the NDP candidate for Richmond-Steveston, Kelly Greene, called the proposed PST cut “reckless,” saying it currently doesn’t apply to things like groceries or children’s clothing, rather it would help with big ticket items like car purchases.
Furthermore, the PST cut will mean $8 billion less in revenue, which Greene worries will lead to services being cut.
The NDP have promised a one-time credit as relief during the pandemic - $500 for individuals, $1,000 for families under a certain income threshold.
However, the NDP, if re-elected to government, will focus on a wide variety of areas, Greene said because “any one thing is going to miss people.”
Economic recovery will focus on small- and medium-sized businesses, food production and infrastructure improvement including $300 million in grants to small and medium sized businesses, which Greene called “large economic drivers” that don’t have the flexibility that large corporations do.
The BC NDP has earmarked funds for cultural, heritage and arts assets, which Greene hopes will help boost the tourism industry, especially in places like Steveston.
As a “fiscal conservative,” Pitcairn said he doesn’t like the idea of running a deficit, but it’s a reality many “modern economies” will be facing in the next few years because of the global pandemic.
Pitcairn added he was impressed by the non-partisan approach in B.C. tackling pandemic-related issues.
But this has been interrupted by the election, called a year before it was scheduled to be held.
Pitcairn pointed out the election has stalled the delivery of a $1.5 billion aid package, approved earlier this year, that now won’t go out until after Nov. 16.
He said the path to recovery from the pandemic is a “long road,” especially since there is no vaccine in sight or rapid testing available yet.
“Unfortunately, the focus is on the election rather than on economic recovery,” he said.
Child care funding promised by BC Liberals, NDP
Both parties have come out promising more support for child care to help parents get back to work.
The NDP has piloted $10/day daycare, but before the election, the BC Liberals criticized the government for being slow to roll out the aggressive program they announced, falling short of the number of child care spaces promised.
The BC Liberals have also announced they will invest in child care, starting with a $10/day program which then is scaled up by household income.
“This child care (support) will help mom and dad get back to work,” Pitcairn said.
But Greene said the NDP is committed to expanding what has been piloted, to help families – and especially women – get back to work at an affordable rate.
Currently, many families rely on grandparents or daycare centres with exorbitant fees, she added.