B.C. Election: MLA candidates on the economy

We put questions to Kamloops' MLA candidates on post-secondary, the economy and health care

British Columbians will go the polls May 9. We put a series of questions to the candidates from both of Kamloops’ electoral districts on everything from post-secondary education to health care and the economy.

Other topics: University funding – Economy – PrioritiesPrivate moneyHealth care

WE ASKED:

As an MLA, what will you do to ensure the city gets what it needs when it comes to economic development? Where might you focus future development?

Peter Milobar (Kamloops-North) – BC Liberals

“Kamloops needs to have continued growth in all areas of the Provincial economy,” Milobar said.

Milobar thinks that having a world-class university in Kamloops immensely benefits the local workforce and allows it to thrive. Having a well educated and ready workforce is key to a strong economy, says Milobar.

“Outside the university itself, the $420 million-dollar expansion at Royal Inland Hospital also enables the creation of many health care positions, that could be filled by future TRU alumni,” he said.

Barb Nederpel (Kamloops-North) – BC NDP

“We need to make sure economic development works for all of us, and not just a few connected Liberal donors,” said Nederpel.

Nederpel says that the BC NDP will make good on their promise to make the Trans-Canada Highway four lanes from Kamloops to Alberta. A move that she says will improve infrastructure and create jobs.

“At the same time we’ll work with post-secondary institutions to train the designers, engineers, and tradespeople needed to put our wood products to use,” she said.

Dan Hines (Kamloops-North) – BC Green Party

For Hines, there are two specific opportunities for economic development in the Kamloops area: TRU and the forestry industry.

He believes that by investing in TRU, Kamloops can secure a good source of jobs and brings thousands of students into the city to study and contribute.

“Kamloops and the BC Interior can realize further economic benefit from an investment in a revitalized forestry sector,” Hines noted as well.

As Kamloops’ MLA, Hines would advocate for Kamloops to become a center for forestry, technology and innovation.

Peter Kerek (Kamloops-North) – Communist Party of B.C.

For Kerek, unemployment, underemployment and poverty are this election’s top issues. Kerek has multiple suggestions for fixing such issues including implementing a guaranteed minimum income, raising the minimum wage to match the living wage ($20/hr), mass construction of affordable housing, doubling social assistance and disability rates, or a combination of these policies.

“But, the real struggle in implementing these types of progressive policies is that they undermine the usefulness of poverty to the capitalist class,” Kerek said. “If there weren’t an abundance of impoverished citizens, as well as the threat of poverty to middle-income citizens, then the capitalist class would find it much harder to demand more from workers while offering less.”

Todd Stone (Kamloops-South) – BC Liberals

For Stone, having a strong tech sector is key to the future of Kamloops.

“Having worked in the industry before entering public service, I understand what it takes to succeed and firmly believe that Kamloops is well-positioned to become an even larger tech hub over the coming years,” he said.

Stone believes that with the BC Liberals’ current tech strategy – focusing on helping tech companies meet the challenges of access to capital, talent and markets – Kamloops’ tech sector will “at least double” in the next four years.

Beat Klossner (Kamloops-South) – Communist Party of B.C.

“My responsibility is first and foremost to the whole of the province of B.C.,” Klossner said. “Something being of a benefit to Kamloops might not necessarily be a benefit to the rest of the province.”

Klossner believes that future development has to be innovative, including less dependence on forest products in favour of hemp-based products, using wind and solar energy, and using TRU’s resources in research and trades education to support these industries.

Klossner says that, “Of course, there is one big problem,” and points to the corporate ownership of railways, resource industry, banking and more, and suggests that these areas should be under public control and regulated.

Nancy Bepple (Kamloops-South) – BC NDP

Bepple says Kamloops is ideally placed to be a vital hub for the tech sector, and wants to see the province support development of more tech startups in the region.

“Hi-tech industries attract a high-salaried workforce and are environmentally safe, factors that contribute to economic sustainability,” Bepple said.

When it comes to the province’s resources, Bepple said that she’d focus on re-investment in forestry, which she said has “suffered from a decade of mismanagement.”

“Through better forest management – including appropriate re-forestation and value-added local manufacturing – this highly valued local resource can again lead the way to an economic boom.”

Donovan Cavers (Kamloops-South) – BC Green Party

No response was provided.