Liberals challenged to reveal plan

January 11, 2001

VERNON - An NDP MLA dared the B.C. Liberals to reveal their plans for governing, in a speech to the North Okanagan Labour Council on Wednesday.

Steve Orcherton (Victoria-Hillside) said the NDP is now rolling out its agenda, seen with recent announcements on child care and health care and announcements to come soon on energy rebates and labour code amendments.

"I think we've got an agenda we'll be rolling out that's very positive," Orcherton told labour delegates in Vernon.

The Liberals have said little about what they would do if they win the provincial election, which must be held by June, but Orcherton said that doesn't mean Gordon Campbell's party has no plan.

"The Liberals do have a plan," he said. "The scary thing is they're not telling us what the plan is.

"It's very important that we flush out the Liberals on what their plan is."

Orcherton believes the upcoming campaign will focus on issues, which the NDP believes is its strength.

"At the end of the day, I'll stack our plan up against the Liberal plan and people will debate and discuss them," said the parliamentary secretary to Advanced Education, Training and Technology Cathy McGregor.

Orcherton said the provincial government's new child care initiative didn't garner the big headlines that might have been expected.

"It's one of the most progressive initiatives any government has brought out in North America in a long time," Orcherton said.

By subsidizing child care facilities, parents who now pay about $35 a day for child care will pay just $14 under the NDP plan.

"I can't think of a better tax break for families that are struggling," the MLA said, noting the initiative will save families $400 per month, per child.

The government also announced its health care action plan recently.

Orcherton commented that B.C.'s health system does need reforms, but is not in crisis. Even the United States, which is often praised these days, has problems, he said.

"The need for reform is not exclusive to us."

The health plan addresses the needs for more nurses and long-term care facilities, he added.

Orcherton said an announcement on some kind of energy rebate or subsidy is imminent. The government will also soon announce changes the labour code making it easier for new union certifications to achieve first contract agreements.

Orcherton, former secretary-treasurer with the Victoria Labour Council, reminded labour activists to keep supporting the NDP, even if they don't always agree with the government.

"With the NDP working people can get in the room and be critical. They may not always get their way, but with the Liberals, working people won't even get in the room."

Pav Aujla, an Okanagan University College student, told the labour council she will be seeking the NDP nomination in the Vernon area.

Aujla said she fears the Liberals, if they get to power, will reduce the minimum wage, change B.C.'s labour code, bring in two-tier health care and, although they complain about gas prices now, would do nothing to fix the problem once they got in power.

The NOLC will hold its annual general meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 7 at the BCGEU office on Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna.



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