CCU Kicks Off BC Workers Vote Campaign
Like the 2011 Federal and Ontario Provincial elections, the Confederation of Canadian Unions is once again establishing a political education campaign, named BC Workers Vote, to help its membership make informed voting choices for the British Columbia Election on May 14.
The twelve questions below have been sent to all four major parties in the province, including the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party. The Conservatives have not yet given us their responses, although we have consistently asked them for their answers after repeated emails and phone calls.
Read the party’s responses by clicking on the logos below:
1. Statistics Canada reports that on average, unionized workers enjoy 29% higher wages than non-unionized workers in the same line of work, as well as stronger pensions, superior health and safety standards, longer paid vacation time, better health and drug benefits, and more rights in the workplace. Does your party believe that unions play a positive role in our economy? If so, what policies will your party implement to create a climate that is easier for unions to organize?
2. Over the past decade in British Columbia, an average of 150 workers die on the job each year, and 17 workers in the province are permanently disabled from workplace accidents every day. What will your party do to guarantee better health and safety conditions to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities?
3. While corporate profits, productivity and GDP have all increased consistently during the past thirty years, Statistics Canada reports that both real hourly wages and median family income have been stagnant since 1980. Why do you think this has happened, and what does your party propose to change the situation?
4. British Columbia has become a deeply unequal province. According to Statistics Canada, the top 20% of income earners enjoy 44.8% of after-tax income, the highest in the country, while the poorest earn only 5%. How will your party reverse this trend and reduce the growing levels of economic inequality in British Columbia?
5. A recent Environics Research poll showed that 90% of British Columbians think there should be income tax increases for the wealthiest income earners, and 67% believe that major corporations pay less tax then they should. Since the beginning of the new millennium, the wealthiest citizens and businesses have enjoyed tax breaks, supposedly to “create jobs,” yet the unemployment rate in BC is the same today as it was in 2000, at 7%. Does your party believe that those who benefit the most should pay their fair share of taxes?
6. Our publicly administered, universal health care system is cherished throughout British Columbia. More of these services, however, are being de-funded and privatized. What policies will your party implement to ensure that health care in the province remains under public control and is accessible to everyone?
7. There are thousands of people in the province on waiting lists for surgery, home care, and finding a family doctor. What will your party do to fund more doctors, nursing positions and hospital beds throughout the province, and ensure that our health care system is there for us when we need it?
8. One of the most important policies for creating a better education system is reducing class sizes. What specific policies will your party implement to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes in primary and secondary schools in British Columbia?
9. As a result of cutbacks to post-secondary education over the past two decades, average tuition fees in the province increased four-fold between 1990 and 2010, adding to the already-record levels of student debt. What will your party do to lower tuition fees and reduce student debt in the province?
The Environment and Resources
10. Each year, tens of thousands of raw logs and other natural resources are shipped to value-added industries in other countries. What specific plans does your party have to prevent this and instead create high-value added jobs in the resource industry in British Columbia.
11. British Columbians care deeply about our environment and believe that climate change is a major issue. What will your party do to reduce our carbon footprint and help lower greenhouse gas emissions?
12. British Columbia continues to use a Plurality voting system (“First past the post”) for its elections. This has allowed parties with a minority of the vote to form majority governments, and has relegated such parties like the Greens, who won over 130,000 votes in the last BC election, to having no representation in the Legislative Assembly. Where does your party stand on reforming British Columbia’s electoral system to one based on proportional representation?