12 Year MLA more passionate, better activist
“I think I’ve made a significant difference in the lives of people in Newton by being their voice over the twelve years I’ve served as MLA. It made me much more passionate, a better activist.” He spoke with Ray Hudson about being the incumbent.
Harry Bains: Education shortfalls are one of Surrey-Newton’s major issues. Many residents say they are falling behind economically. This is a reflection of the lack of post-secondary facilities, which leaves high school students little incentive to go on due to the critical shortage of spaces, and the cost. They hear of the graduates left with thirty-five thousand dollar student debt. It’s discouraging at a time when 80% of jobs require some post-secondary education or training.
The region south of the Fraser has the lowest number of post-secondary education spaces compared to the Vancouver Region or the whole of the province, by a factor of one-third on a per capita basis.
The numbers of students coming out of secondary schools, entering post-secondary education, is the lowest in the province. In 2005 Premier Campbell promised to double the number of seats at SFU from 2,500 to 5,000. It’s 2017 and still nothing has been done on that promise. If our education system is strong, our economy will be strong, and society will be more equal because education in my view is the best equalizer in society. If it’s not, the lack of skilled labour will inhibit the willingness of businesses to invest in this area.
Beyond that, parents often can’t send siblings to the same school which complicates getting the kids to school, and themselves to work.
Behind this is the 14-year dispute between the government and the teachers. The Supreme Court of Canada took only twenty minutes to tell this premier that what she did in 2003 was illegal. Unfortunately, it’s that generation that entered kindergarten and graduated in 2017, without the resources that were required, particularly in terms of help for special needs students, librarians and counselling, who lost big time because the premier was so stubborn on an ideological level.
If we form government, we will do even better than what is required by the court because the teachers need support because they are actually building our future. It starts with the thousands of elementary and secondary students who are in some 1,000 portable classrooms across BC; a quarter of those located in Surrey alone.
Crime: The recruiting of elementary and high school students into drugs and gang violence is a major concern of parents. We do have the Wrap Around Program, which is very effective, but the government only funds it sporadically. There are thirty to forty kids on a waiting list all the time. You don’t put a child that needs help on a waiting list.
We have announced a steady, on-going funding of $500,000 every year to that program along with the federal government’s $700,000. We’re also committing to implementing the Surrey Accord from a couple of years ago.
Public transportation: Most main roads of Surrey are jammed every day. The Premier put a regional solution out to referendum. After four years nothing was accomplished. The NDP government will make getting the regional plan implemented a priority. In 2040 there will be another million people here.
Health Care: Surrey Memorial Hospital is seeing delays of ten hours now in emergency. Other hospitals can’t handle the demand. We’re proposing to create Community Medical Centres that will be open evenings and weekends, with Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, a pharmacist, where you can get treated quickly. Along with that we need to push for more doctors and other health care professionals.
According to the Senior’s Advocate, nine out of ten senior’s homes do not have adequate staff. How do you justify that? We need to provide the respect and dignity seniors deserve. We will invest in providing home care so seniors can stay in their homes as long as possible. We also need to build more seniors residences, and with the diversity of our population, ensure our systems are “culturally competent” so that residences recognize lifestyles and dietary needs of various ethnic seniors. The Progressive Intercultural Society (PICS) is an outstanding practitioner of this. We must move in that direction.
Ray Hudson: Over your terms in office, what touched you most in this time?
Harry Bains: After my first election I sat across from an elderly couple. She was 87 and he was 90, and they lived in a manufactured (mobile) home in the “Seacrest” park, in South Surrey. With tears in their eyes they told me they were given notice that the owner of the land wanted to develop the land for different use. The Tenancy Act doesn’t provide any protection, so Bob Bose, the former Surrey mayor and councillor, and I put a campaign together to protect these people. I took a private member’s bill in Victoria, Bob Bose set out to convince the councillors of the need for protection. When the hearing to change the zoning bylaw came to the City Council, they agreed with us not to give permission for the zoning change for the manufactured home park. After the decision, that evening, I saw the smile on the faces of that elderly couple. That is the most satisfying moment that I had in my entire life. Incidentally, that park is still there today.
Other candidates for Surrey-Newton include Richard Krieger, BC Green Party and Balpreet Singh Bal (no affiliation)