Know your candidates 2020: Burnaby-Lougheed

We sent the same questionnaire to all four candidates in the riding of Burnaby-Lougheed ahead of the upcoming provincial election.

Ahead of the B.C. election, we’re taking a look at all of the candidates in each riding in Burnaby and how they would like to respond to some of the most important issues of the day, from COVID and schools to child care to economic recovery.

But first, here’s a brief look at each candidate. Candidates appear in the alphabetical order of their surnames.

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Katrina Chen
Incumbent MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed & minister of state for child care

Katrina has worked in the community the past 13 years since graduating from SFU. Katrina has volunteered for local non-profits, served as a board of education trustee and worked in provincial/federal community offices. Katrina was elected as MLA in 2017 and served as the minister of state for child care.
Dogs or cats? Both because I had both until my 17-year-old cat passed away this year.
Favourite book or movie? The Little Prince
Preferred Halloween treat? Anything my 6-year-old likes!

Tariq Malik
BC Liberal Party
New home construction & real estate

I immigrated from Bangladesh over 30 years ago. My first jobs were in farming, so I understand our food system. I've worked in the food industry most of my life; from delivery boy to help pay for university, to then being a Panago Pizza franchise owner, and most recently in construction.
Cats or dogs? Dog lover
Favourite book or movie? Rainman
Preferred Halloween treat? Halloween is all about caramel, anything caramel

Dominique Paynter
BC Libertarian Party
Graphic Designer

“Inner City” kid originally from Toronto. I was raised in a single-parent home, I studied & worked  hard to achieve a higher quality of life than I began with. I have a bachelor’s degree in animation, and I moved to Vancouver in 2015 after being scouted by a local studio.
Cats or dogs? Definitely dogs!
Favourite book or movie? Movie: Koyaanisqatsi; Book: The Golden Compass
Preferred Halloween treat? Super Blow-pops (in blue raspberry)

Andrew Williamson
BC Green Party
Film producer

Andrew Williamson is an award-winning producer who lives and works in Burnaby. His films include The Whale and the Raven and The Magnitude of All Things. He volunteers with Climate Reality, is proud of his daughter’s work with Sustainabiliteens and has coffee every Sunday in the neighbourhood with his friends.
Cats or dogs? Cats! (But we own a dog)
Favourite book or movie? Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Preferred Halloween treat? Full-size chocolate bars.

Now, on to the big questions of the day. Candidates each had 150 words to address our six questions, with the threat of being cut off at the 150th word. Only one candidate in this riding surpassed their limit on one question.

1. What do you think is the top issue facing Burnaby in this election? How will you address this issue? Be as specific as possible.

Katrina Chen: Affordability – from the cost of housing, child care and transportation to ensuring the creation of good local jobs to help families thrive. As we work and learn in our community, we also need to do more to protect our environment, including working with Burnaby residents to address the serious risks of the TMX expansions. In only 3.5 years, the BC NDP fulfilled nearly 80% of our 2017 commitments to make life better for people, including eliminating the unfair MSP, investing in housing, removing tolls, restoring free adult and ESL education, reducing child-care costs, eliminating B.C. student loan interests, cutting 20% of small businesses taxes, reforming ICBC so drivers can save 20% next year and more. When we invest in people, it supports our economy. We have accomplished a lot together, but there’s a lot more work to do – and as your MLA, I will continue to advocate and find solutions. 

Tariq Malik: The first six days of the election, I went door-knocking nine hours a day with my team. We knocked on over 4,500 doors in our riding. I spoke to many people, and the issues I heard were varied, and many were not happy with the current government. Issues they discussed with me were the COVID response, ICBC, Vancouver’s tent cities moving further east into Burnaby, the gondola and other issues tied to federal policy.

Dominique Paynter: Certainly the impact of COVID-19. Mainly its impact on small business owners, the mental well-being of vulnerable demographics like seniors, people living alone and young children, and the loss of basic Canadian civil liberties. I would like to look at alternative methods of dealing with COVID-19 without enforcing some of the social isolation protocols currently in place. These protocols are opposed to innate human nature and have had a detrimental effect on the mental health of our entire society. Poor mental health can exacerbate health problems and end up leading to a weaker immune system, which will in turn make people more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. I don’t believe the government should be able to dictate what choices we make in our personal lives. That right should always belong to the individual... in a truly democratic society.

Andrew Williamson: The biggest issue facing all of us is climate change. In Burnaby, we have the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline which will increase B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Parkland Corporation has applied to the province to build new fossil fuel tanks next to Confederation Park. I will work to reduce B.C.’s emissions and focus on new, clean tech jobs as part of our transition to renewable energy. The BC Greens are focused on developing a green industrial strategy that engages industry, labour and other stakeholders to create plans to fairly and efficiently manage carbon budgets while maximizing the province’s green industrial potential. I will work to ensure that Burnaby is at the centre of this discussion and the opportunities for new jobs.

2. The next government of British Columbia will have the responsibility of guiding the province through the COVID-19 pandemic and into recovery. What makes you and your party best positioned to carry out this work? What specific actions would you take to guide this process?

Chen: Even before the pandemic, the BC NDP invested significantly into health care to reduce wait-times, increased the quality of care and funded new projects, including the Burnaby Hospital redevelopment. After years of cuts and inaction from the BC Liberals, our new investments helped us to respond to the pandemic quickly – but we have to continue the work we’ve already done – from hiring more health-care workers, keeping our seniors safe by investing in long-term care and home care, more training opportunities, supports for small and medium-sized businesses through tax credits and grants, and creating good jobs, while we invest in clean energy and technology. As the MLA, I have always worked hand-in-hand with residents on issues matter to them – from connecting people to services, solving individual cases to delivering food and groceries to families during the pandemic. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our community.

Malik: The NDP and John Horgan calling an unnecessary snap election during a pandemic wasn't the best way to use taxpayer dollars. Our party has been working with the government to keep the health and safety of residents as our top priority and we will continue to take the advice of our public health officials. To get the economy back on track, we will eliminate the PST for a year, eliminate the small business income tax and invest in B.C.’s infrastructure to build for our future. These three things alone will give a boost to the engine of the economy to allow for recovery. As an elected MLA, I would be listening to all residents and taking suggestions and ensuring that when policy is being made in Victoria, I am there telling their stories and sharing their suggestions and comments. I am doing the work right now – going to

Paynter: As a party we would work together to ensure the livelihoods and civil liberties of Canadians are protected. Many Canadians have suffered emotionally, economically and socially during this crisis. As a party we would do all that is possible within the bounds of federal law, to ensure that we help revitalize our economy and social fabric while still maintaining an awareness of COVID-19 and its side effects. With the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19 it is difficult to make any precise plans this early in time, however we will of course take all of the recommendations of the WHO and reputable scientific bodies into consideration when making any decisions regarding the pandemic.

Williamson: The BC Greens are committed to a green recovery in B.C. as we navigate this pandemic together. Our plan, announced last week, will establish a $1-billion strategic investment fund to support business innovation, especially initiatives that would help B.C. shift to a zero-carbon economy. This plan far surpasses the existing Clean BC plan. The BC Greens will initiate a just transition program for workers to move to guaranteed jobs in the clean economy. Other initiatives include requiring 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 and committing to make B.C. carbon neutral by 2045. “The abundance of good ideas being generated on how to reimagine how we do things is truly exciting. If we embrace the change people are calling for, we can make our communities and our economy stronger in the face of all the massive change happening throughout the world,” BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau stated.

3. Students and families in Burnaby have been vocal in their concerns about the safety of schools in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. What specific actions would you take to address these concerns?

Chen: During the past few months, I’ve personally returned every call and email I received from families, teachers and education professionals. As the MLA, I’ve taken their feedback to the ministry or Burnaby board of education to ensure that we can work together to find solutions. As a parent myself, I understand this is a challenging time. We need to work closely with public health and Dr. (Bonnie) Henry to follow the best practices and do our part to protect our loved ones and others. We also need to continue to invest in education to ensure educators have the resources they need. As a former school trustee, I’ve seen first-hand how BC Liberals’ years of cuts in education hurt young learners. I will continue to advocate for more classroom resources, fast-tack online and remote learning options, mental health support and continued investments in school upgrades to go through this unprecedented time.

Malik: Dr. Bonnie Henry has led B.C.’s overall health and safety plan throughout this pandemic so far, and we thank her for her diligent work. I ask that if you have not already reached out to me and my campaign office, to send us an email so we (my team) can hear your concerns. The more we hear from the public, the greater input into policy. As a father of four children in school, I am just as concerned as other parents and understand the anxiety of my children going through this turbulent time. As an elected MLA, I promise to work and offer full support to teachers and students as they voice their concerns to us. These students are our future and we need to offer engagement now – because we care about what they have to say about their future.

Paynter: There is an ongoing debate among parents, teachers and students in regards to this issue. I believe that gathering their feedback and then weighing the averages would be a productive way to move forward. There needs to be more choice when it comes to education. We are dealing with a system that was already severely out of date in the years before COVID, what we need now is a diversity of approaches for a monolithic system. It needs to be modified for the 21st century and the different styles of learning that many students have. I think it would be prudent to consider extinguishing a “one model” of schooling and look at adapting to a more flexible, modernized model. However, due to the rapidly evolving nature of federal & provincial regulations for handling COVID-19, it is difficult to say how much flexibility there will be for this in the future.     

Williamson: As the parent of a Grade 11 student in Burnaby, I share these concerns. We have been impressed with the Burnaby school board’s work in implementing Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recommendations. If elected, I will work to address specific concerns from families while supporting the Provincial Health Services Authority’s recommendations. Students and parents have to feel comfortable and confident about going to classes, and that is a key priority of mine. Other ideas I will raise include providing more outdoor learning and place-based learning, fresh intake systems, the funding of mental health and inclusion for kids and giving districts targeted funding so they can work with the Burnaby Teachers’ Association on identifying the most important needs for the students.

4. Affordable housing continues to be top-of-mind for Burnaby residents. Name at least three specific, concrete actions you would take to address this issue, locally and within B.C.

Chen: Since 2017, the BC NDP has invested significantly in housing through the 30-point housing plan. Locally, we have funded several affordable housing projects, student housing for SFU and BCIT helping with the local rental stock, along with modular housing with wrap-around supports – all long overdue. In Burnaby-Lougheed, we have one of the largest co-op housing stocks in Metro Vancouver. I have been and will continue to work with residents to create more co-op housing, including working with BC Housing on innovative projects to convert existing spaces to more units. I will continue to work with our BC NDP team to make housing more affordable through various actions, including new measures to reduce construction costs, control the cost of strata insurance, limit rent increases and provide a renter’s rebate. Moreover, I will continue to look for opportunities to create supportive housing for our most vulnerable neighbours.

Malik: BC Liberals have promised to address the tent cities that impacted ridings like Mount Pleasant – which is only two ridings away from Burnaby-Lougheed. If we don't take action now, that tent city will possibly head into Burnaby. We need a coordinated effort to make all levels of government understand that this problem has been on the rise here on the west coast and we need resources now. We believe that more housing is needed to alleviate our shortage of housing supply. With our announcement of the PST elimination for a year and a decrease to 3% the second year, building materials will be cheaper, and that will decrease the cost of housing units.

Paynter: Restrict the number of non-terrestrial and foreign home buyers to around 30%.

Another federal policy area driving demand in housing is immigration. Because the vast majority of the over 300,000 annual newcomers to Canada settle in the GVA, Toronto and Montreal, the supply of housing has had difficulty keeping up with the demand in those cities. Immigration to Canada’s biggest cities does provide an economic and cultural boost. However the concentration of demand for housing in these urban areas, combined with the limitations on supply mentioned above, mean that as immigration levels have risen, so has the cost of housing. Compared to other western countries, Canada’s level of immigration is very high. I believe that by giving priority to citizens and those with PR status, we can offset some of the inflation caused by the currency injected by foreign buyers who otherwise do not directly contribute to our economy.

Williamson: Liveable communities are a vital part of the BC Greens’ commitments in this election. Burnaby needs better access to federal and provincial funding for affordable rental housing and co-op housing projects in the city, something I will work for at the provincial level. This must include housing for those most in need, as well as young families so they can live, work and go to school in Burnaby. Burnaby’s vision of urban villages is another key area I will support in Victoria. We need to explore how the province can support improved livability such as walkable neighbourhoods, complete communities, connected communities, and healthy community design. We also need more support for Burnaby residents who are facing higher rents. The BC Greens will earmark $500 million to provide meaningful support to low and moderate income earners paying more than is affordable in rent.

5. Anti-racism and Indigenous reconciliation have come to the forefront of public discussion in recent months. How would you ensure this important work is carried out when you are elected? Be as specific as possible.

Chen: As a woman of colour, anti-racism is an issue close to my heart. I’m also proud that the BC NDP is one of the first governments in the world to enshrine the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in law. We need to take every step possible to ensure Indigenous self-determination and share decision-making. Our BC NDP government also restored the Human Rights Commission that was dismantled by the former BC Liberal government to tackle racism and hate crime. We need to ensure that we address root causes by bringing in legislation that paves the way for race-based data collection – an essential part in continuing to modernize sectors like policing and health. Locally, I will always commit to do everything I can to bring awareness to these important issues through public education, supporting local causes, taking concrete action and speaking out as I have always been.

Malik: As an immigrant to this country, it is my duty to educate and fight all forms of racism and discrimination. It is also my responsibility to help form legislation to facilitate positive reconciliation in our riding and ensure that Victoria is doing its job to provide meaningful dialogue and solutions.

Paynter: As a visible minority, myself, I am well aware of the importance and impact of these issues. I believe we are already taking steps in the right direction – discourse, tolerance and a willingness to communicate are the best tools to combat discrimination. As long as these issues continue to be addressed in institutions of power and education I believe we are already on the right path. I would continue to promote discussions about both topics in the educational, legal and judicial sector.

Williamson: With the Gitga’at First Nation in Hartley Bay, I negotiated one of the first filming protocols in the country for respectful, reciprocal access to filming in Indigeous territories. Our film, The Whale and the Raven, was given special access to sensitive locations due to this agreement. This process taught me the value of listening, engaging and asking Indigenous people what was important to them and working together from consultation to solution. We need to continue to fight racism in this province, and I’m proud of the BC Greens’ diversity of Burnaby candidates in this election. As a settler and a white man, I work to listen and learn from my colleagues about racism and how we can combat it. Racism damages all of us and the success of our province requires that we work together and support each other, regardless of our country of origin, sexual orientation or gender.

6. Child care has been a long ongoing issue for families in Burnaby and beyond. What specific actions would you take to ensure all families in the city can access affordable child care when they need it?

Chen: I’m honoured to have served as minister of state for child care since 2017 and as a mother who struggled with child care I understand the need for an inclusive, quality system. We have dedicated every effort to build the foundation for an affordable, quality child-care system – a new social program for all B.C. families. I’ve worked tirelessly to roll out 36-plus new initiatives to help lower parent fees, support educators and accelerate the creation of spaces across the province. Close to 33,000 children have benefited from paying $10 a day or less with tens of thousands of families seeing their fees reduced, including many Burnaby families. In Burnaby, I’ve worked hard to partner with the school district, city and others to create 1,100-plus new licensed spaces – mostly on public grounds that will become community assets. I am committed to expand the work we’ve done until we have a system that works for everyone.

Malik: Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberals recently committed over $1 billion to delivering $10-a-day child care for lower income British Columbians with an income-tested model. While the NDP had promised and failed to deliver much-needed child care solutions for families, the BC Liberals will ensure our children get the child care they need so parents can continue to work. Also, as a businessman involved in construction, I always like to think bigger and better when I build. We must be offering more solutions to rezoning areas and creating, for example, more street fronts for business purposes in multi-unit condos. We need to work with city officials to create space for child care at street levels, near parks and transit stations, and allow for affordable lease rates for entrepreneurs wanting to open up such facilities so that they can offer spaces at an affordable rate.

Paynter: A Libertarian approach to this, I think, would be to look at ways of reducing reliance on government support for the matter. We would look at options like allowing families to keep more of their income by lowering the level of taxation they face. If people could keep more of their income, it would elicit a highly positive outcome. There would be a higher likelihood of one parent being able to stay or work from home, giving them an opportunity to provide their own childminding. This would also reduce the need for additional daycare facilities. We would also look at changing regulations so that it is easier for local individuals to provide their own child care. We could also look at giving employers incentive for providing some form of childminding on site. This would cut down on having multiple commutes and increase the amount of day-contact between parents and their kids.

Williamson: As young parents, my wife and I struggled to find good care for our daughter. That is why I feel the BC Greens’ plan to support young families will have a positive impact in Burnaby. It includes universal early childhood education, support for stay-at-home parents with young children and policies to support flexible work arrangements. Specifically, up to $500 per month for families with children under three and a stay-at-home parent. Free child care for working parents with children under three. To cover the phase-in of this plan, we would increase funding for child-care programs from $674 million in 2020/21 to $897 million in 2024/25. In addition, moving the ministry of state for child care into the ministry of education. This is one of the key areas I will focus on should I be elected as I believe in the importance of strong early education and child care.

The election runs until Saturday, Oct. 24.

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