1) What do you consider to be your top priorities for ensuring quality and timely healthcare for residents in the Surrey South riding?
Improving access to healthcare services must be a top priority. If I am elected, I will work alongside the BC NDP government to ensure the $1.7-billion new hospital in Cloverdale is completed by 2027. It includes 168 beds, an emergency room, a regional cancer centre, operating suites and MRIs and CT scanners. This project will go a long way to improve health services in our community. A second hospital for Surrey should have been completed long ago, but the BC Liberals broke their promise and their leader, Kevin Falcon, sold the land. In a radio interview during this campaign, he described the Cloverdale site as “a really poor location.” This worries me greatly. If he had the chance, he would cancel the project, which would be devastating to the people of South Surrey.
2. What projects and approaches would you support to improve transportation, both public and private, for residents of Surrey South (particularly those who commute to their place of employment)?
People don’t want to spend their lives commuting. That is why the BC NDP government is investing in projects such as a toll-free replacement for the Massey Tunnel, replacement for the Pattullo Bridge that provides space for future expansion and the Skytrain extension to Langley City. We’re also investing $23 million to expand the interchange at Highway 99 and 32nd Avenue. Kevin Falcon wants to scrap the Massey Tunnel replacement and go back to a toll bridge, which would add three years to the completion time. When he was in government, he promised an expansion of the Skytrain and then broke that promise. If I am elected, I will ensure that all of these important projects are completed. We can’t let Kevin Falcon and the BC Liberals put them at risk.
3. What measures should be taken to ensure that residents of Surrey South can find affordable housing, whether as buyers or renters, and to offset the general rise in the cost of living?
We know that housing availability and affordability is a significant issue in south Surrey. That is why the BC NDP government introduced the speculation tax that has already turned 20,000 empty condos into rental homes for people. We are also doing our part by building record levels of housing. More than 33,000 new homes are built and underway, including over 1,700 homes in Surrey. We have capped the amount rent can be increased, saving families an average of $1,000 per year. We need help from local governments, too, so they can move forward with approvals faster to build even more housing. Kevin Falcon opposes the speculation and vacancy tax as well as the cap on rent increases. He would turn the overheated housing and rental market into a pressure cooker – making it even harder to find an affordable place to live, while giving tax breaks to wealthy speculators.
4. What measures would you support to address the current toxic drug crisis in B.C. (including Surrey South)
British Columbians have lost far too many loved ones to the toxic drug crisis. Even one death is too many. We need to keep escalating our response to this crisis. That is why the BC NDP government created the first dedicated Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in Canada. We need to protect and support our kids, so we’re doubling the number of youth treatment beds in addition to adding hundreds of new treatment and recovery beds for adults.
We are also building complex care housing to support people with overlapping substance use, trauma and acquired brain injury including 39 spaces at Foxglove in Surrey.
We are leading the country to decriminalize people who use drugs so that more people get the help they need and police can focus on the criminals who sell these drugs and are exploiting the crisis. This issue is complex and difficult to solve. But if I am elected, I am committed to working alongside my colleagues to find solutions to this crisis and help save lives.
5. What measures would you support to ensure that agricultural land is protected in the Surrey South riding?
Farmers from Surrey and throughout the Fraser Valley work hard to produce some of the best food on the planet. It is our duty to ensure that land is protected so they can continue to feed British Columbians and people across the country and the world.
I am proud that the BC NDP government had the foresight to bring in laws that protect farmland from industrial, commercial and residential incursion.
During 16 years of BC Liberal government, those protections were eroded. That is why our government acted to strengthen Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) laws. It was very disappointing that the BC Liberals opposed these changes for partisan political gain.
The need to protect farmland should transcend politics. Our future depends on it.