In order to give voters a chance to get to know their candidates in the 2021 federal election, Black Press reached out to each candidate with a list of questions concerning voter priorities.
The questions were taken from an Aug. 5 Angus Reid poll listing British Columbians’ top three priorities. Those priorities are: Environment/Climate Change: 45 per cent, Housing Affordability: 36 per cent and Coronavirus/COVID-19: 29 per cent.
The candidates have been sorted by alphabetical order, based on last name. They will rotate with each question.
This week’s question is: “What is your plan to get people through this pandemic?”
Some of the answers have been edited for brevity.
Conservative Party of Canada – Shelley Downey
First of all, we do encourage all Canadians to get vaccinated. They are a safe and effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19. We also recognize though that Canadians have the right to make their own choices. Rapid testing is going to be necessary for the unvaccinated to protect the most vulnerable.
Part of our plan is also to ensure that unvaccinated Canadians, if they’re passengers travelling on planes, trains, buses, and ships will be required to present a negative test result or pass a rapid COVID test before getting on board.
The other thing that I guess needs to be said is that each province has health officers that are making their decisions. We do respect the right of each provincial government to implement and manage their own public health guidelines. We are complying with them, my campaign is, and that is where we’re at.
Our plan really is to encourage Canadians to get vaccinated, to provide the rapid testing and measures necessary for those who aren’t able to be vaccinated or who aren’t vaccinated in order to protect the most vulnerable.
Liberal Party of Canada – Jennifer Grenz
The Liberal Government has helped navigate us through one of the most scary times in all of our lives. Nearly 9 million Canadians were supported with $81.6 billion in direct payments to make sure that people were supported. The party is guided by science and from top doctors to make sure that decisions made are keeping the public safe and ensuring that, over time, the pandemic supports continue, and that they’ll continue to be available throughout the pandemic as things change. I think that when you look at other countries, we all can feel that Canadians were well cared-for, and will continue to be well cared for.
The government demonstrated that front-of-mind pandemic recovery, and I think that’s something that’s particularly relevant to this riding. We’ve seen first hand the impact COVID has had on tourism and many of our smaller and larger communities are reliant on tourism — especially international tourism. I hope to also bring a voice to Ottawa to ensure that is not lost in the planning for pandemic recovery. We need to find a path forward that’s supporting industry as we recover.
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada – Carla Neal
Vaccinations, not just for Canada but we need to give a lot more vaccinations to COVAX — the internationally run vaccine distribution. Even if everybody in Canada does get vaccinated, we’re not going to be safe until everybody else on the planet is vaccinated as well.
I hear so little about it in mainstream media, but it’s so very important that the rest of the world, places that aren’t as well-off as Canada is, can get vaccinated to make us safe. There’s always things like washing your hands, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer… those are the things that have become normal now.
Green Party of Canada – Jessica Wegg
I think Canadians have done a very good job up to this point. We’ve got incredible vaccination rates. They seem to be plateauing right now. We need to remember that we’re not getting vaccinated just for ourselves, we’re getting vaccinated for the people around us.
Kids under 12 cannot get vaccinated. What that means is when my kids come back from summer holidays with their parents and grandparents in the States, I had to administer a COVID-19 test to my eight-year-old son, and is eyes are watering because I had to put the swab in his face.
We need to finish this, we need to keep working together as a community. Like so many different things, we can get through it if we agree to do it together. If we agree that there is a common goal. All of us want to get back to normal. None of us like wearing face masks.
None of us like not being able to get close to other people and hug other people when we need it. We all want to get back to normal, and to do that, we have to pull together and work for the common good. Even if we don’t want a vaccine for personal reasons, if we can get one then we should because of the people around us who can’t.
I respect other people’s decisions if they don’t want to, but I would encourage them to think about others around them.
New Democratic Party – Rachel Blaney
Our plan is to really listen to people and… to ensure the resources are there for people to be safe. We want to see a lot more money coming to the healthcare system as well.
The truth is, federal transfers to the provinces for healthcare have continued to decline over the last several years, and it’s just getting to the point where we’re putting a lot of pressure on provinces to come up with the funds to deal with these issues.
We have to remember that Canada has a healthcare program that is supposed to be something we’re all proud of. We want to see more resources to support these kinds of things so that when all of these amazing people who have been working — I think it’s important that we acknowledge that our healthcare professionals have been working for so many months. Well over a year. Now that we see a fourth wave, that just means their work will continue to increase. They need supports and resources to be able to do tat work without burning out. So many already have. We need to see those resources.
Then just focus on the protocols. Supporting people, educating people who don’t want to get vaccinated abut why they should get vaccinated. We need to see more put out in doing that kind of work, and support the provincial government in doing that kind of work.
Then of course to make sure that there’s resources there for business to be able to continue to get through this time. I’ve said again and again to the federal government, if we do not have small businesses in our communities when COVID comes to a close, how will we rebuild in meaningful ways. We need to make sure that those investments are there to keep people with health issues safe at home where they’re going to be OK, to make sure people who can’t find work have something to lean on and to make sure that protocols are in place to support our provinces in the great work they’ve been doing, especially here in B.C.
Black Press has contacted the People’s Party of Canada and the Maverick Party and is awaiting response. Because of the short campaign period, we have published the answers received by candidates so far, and will add any responses to this story as they come in.