Election 2017: The Nelson-Creston candidates on climate change and seniors care

There are five candidates in the upcoming election.  - Kamala Melzack photo illustration
There are five candidates in the upcoming election.
— image credit: Kamala Melzack photo illustration

This is the second in a weekly series of question and answer sessions with the five candidates running in Nelson-Creston. For each session, we ask all the candidates the same two questions. Today’s questions are about two very different topics: climate change and seniors care. The responses were gathered by phone and have been lightly edited. The candidates’ detailed platforms can be found on their websites.

Question 1: How should the government respond to climate change?

Kim Charlesworth (Green)

It is not just an environmental issue. Acting on climate is about positioning B.C. to succeed in the emerging economy. Acting on climate change is about creating long term jobs, as well as maintaining a livable environment.

We can’t continue to support an oil and gas industry and meet carbon reduction targets at the same time. Our party is the only party that seems to be recognizing that. So the climate action plan that we have released uses the best tools available to shift how we do business, how we live and how we act. It provides incentive and support for transition to a low carbon economy.

So many people are fearful that what we are talking about is mandating certain things. What we are talking about is transitioning to a low carbon economy but if you want to transition you actually have to start somewhere.

We would start with a carbon tax. It is considered one of the best tools for changing how we act, so we would increase it by $10 (per tonne of CO2) per year for four years. Planned predictable increases give businesses the certainty they need so they can figure out what their options are.

Michelle Mungall (NDP)

We have an energy strategy which looks at retrofitting provincial buildings and looks at reducing carbon emissions and energy needs, and becoming more energy efficient. It looks at solar power technology which has reduced in price and has become much more available and doable. The science is there to support really expanding on solar, as well as wind power and other renewable sources.

That can be done in a way that is sustainable and that includes community and public ownership, and doesn’t destabilize the public’s right to own its utility.

We want to be making the polluters pay. There are all kinds of loopholes that they have access to right now that result in you and I paying more than our fair share for the carbon tax. We want to give a rebate to the average family who is reducing their carbon emissions. All of that is also job creating.

Our focus is to reduce carbon emissions. We do not support Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Jesse O’Leary (Independent)

We need the majority of the people on board and to do that we must appeal to them. We need legislation in place that creates positive incentive for industries to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviours.

We need grants available to kickstart new companies to deal with our industrial by-products, such as wood burned in slash piles and the rubble and land from mining operations.

And I personally will be able to invest most of my personal salary to kick-start grassroots companies that will assist in the reduction of B.C.’s annual carbon emissions.

Tom Prior (Independent)

We should be manufacturing closer to home and not taking our timber hundreds of kilometers, and we would end up with more wealth locally and less waste.

Deforestation is the number one contributor of CO2 on the planet. Locally the average logging truck coming out of the Duncan and the Lardeau travels around 600 kilometres there and back there will be 400,000 trucks leaving the Lardeau Duncan valley in the next ten years. We should not be throwing away our wealth so brashly and we would be contributing to the climate by not trucking things. The logging companies and the Ministry of Forests would not be able to export our logs if we were not subsidizing the highways.

Our party (because this is an independent movement here) would advocate for local manufacturing to reduce CO2 and create local wealth. No chip trucks should be going down the Slocan Valley. They should be going down the Arrow Lakes on barges and we should be using trains.

Tanya Wall (BC Liberal)

B.C. has been recognized as a world leader but there is still room for improvement. I know in our riding we have seen the installation of electric vehicle charging stations which is a benefit for our communities.

On April 18 at the rec centre in Creston we are having a public hearing for a proposal of a 15 megawatt solar power farm. It is a developer in Ontario, Saturn Power, that is working with Wyndell Box and Lumber, so that is a climate change initiative.

I also think we need to invest in more biomass: how do we take those biomass products being left in our forests and turn them into an energy source? And also the RDCK is looking at fire mitigation initiatives.

My background has been in environmental health and safety, and I have always related to the compliance side of things. I am familiar with the national pollutant inventory and would work on making sure that industries are recycling everything that we can.


Question 2: How should the government improve care for seniors?

Kim Charlesworth (Green)

This is interconnected: housing affordability, health care, seniors care, what do we do for working parents, what do we do for youth that can’t find jobs. We are looking at it as an affordability crisis. We want to develop a poverty reduction strategy in collaboration with business and social service sectors and that will assist the most vulnerable seniors.

We are committed to providing a basic income for all British Columbians, and that will help seniors as well as others. The transition will take time to develop and implement. Seniors will benefit from our plan to increase social service funding assistance rates.

This is connected with housing. We we need an integrated provincial housing strategy.

Michelle Mungall (NDP)

In B.C. the current situation is that nine out of 10 seniors care facilities don’t even meet basic minimum standards which were dropped by the Liberals, so one of the things we want to do is bring the standards up and bring the number of homes that are meeting those standards up. The bar is very low now, and we want to raise it.

I hear from my constituents all the time how with their home care aide they will maybe get a bath and that might be it, but they won’t help with laundry they won’t help with cooking or groceries or cleaning. Those are all things that help seniors or people with disabilities stay in their homes. We want to bring that full spectrum of care back to home care.

Seniors become orphan patients (a person with no family doctor) more than anyone else in our communities. We need to be providing more opportunities for nurse practitioners and we need to be really looking at the way the people in the health care team are working, so we can ensure that the people are getting what they need. I know, talking to people in the health care sector, that is what they want to be doing, and they feel so frustrated that they can’t.

Jesse O’Leary (Independent)

I talked to the seniors in Kaslo and some people working in the health care system and the three important issues they brought up were affordable housing, transportation, and assisted living.

Tiny homes are pretty ideal for old folks because they have problems cleaning big homes. We could all benefit from better public transit especially for older folks trying to get to doctor appointments. For assisted living and home care, the government should train and hire more people and health care workers. They are overworked and understaffed, so making it more appealing for health care workers to get into the business because it is demanding work. They are paid OK but not paid what their time is worth, and they are dealing with such intensities, because some older folks can be pretty hard to deal with apparently, is what I am told. So, getting more people working in the health system.

Tom Prior (Independent)

If if we had more value added economy here, families would be staying together. A family that has an elderly father who had a good job at a mill, a value added job, they would be able to afford a suite for them to live in or have money to afford an old folks home.

One of the things about seniors is they are lonely. We need to have compassion for our seniors. They don’t want pity. They are living longer and healthier lives. We will be able to provide for our seniors here locally. One thing we have done is franchised all our community care to the federal government and provincial government, and they are stealing our money. We need to start acting locally and being more politically succinct, and I don’t have the answer to how we are going to do that.

Tanya Wall (BC Liberal)

We need to continue to invest in localized programs that are already proven to be working in our communities. Two good examples are the Better at Home programming in Nelson, and here in Creston the Therapeutic Activation program for seniors. We all need to continue to contribute to communities through other investment into our health care. We need to ensure seniors have doctors, by keeping a strong composite of doctors in our areas.

Public transport is another really good avenue. We have review meetings as RDCK directors, to see how we can finance those so seniors have the ability to get to doctors appointments or get their groceries.

We need housing at a livable price. When we look at affordable housing complexes we say this is a seniors complex or this is low income housing. But why are we always looking at one demographic? Why are we not blending them so it would be a younger family, a senior citizen, maybe a single person, create a family network. It bothers me that we try to isolate seniors all the time.





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