Prince George-Valemount candidates face off on environment, healthcare

Healthcare, Site C and education sparked debate at the all-candidate's forum at UNBC last night.

Prince George-Valemount provincial candidates discussed and disputed various issues drawing big reactions from a good crowd and from each other as they confronted questions in areas including: natural resources, indigenous peoples, economic growth, healthcare, education infrastructure and small business.

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The three candidates, Liberal Shirley Bond, Natalie Fletcher representing the NDP party and Green party candidate, Nan Kendy took to the stage for the debate as an eager audience waiting to hear what representative's of B.C.'s three main parties had to say. Bond was proud to share Bank of Montreal's recent confirmation that B.C. leads the country in areas of economic growth and job creation.

"But one of the challenges is that the benefits are not being felt equally all across the province," Bond said.

But with the Liberal's Rural Economic Strategy, Bond feels the province is well on it's way but more work needs to be done.

For Nan Kendy, learning how to live within the earth's limits, valuing what's important in areas of human justice including health, well-being, freedom and bringing democracy back into the system is what should matter most.

"But working for democracy only works if people participate," Kendy said.

Fletcher who works in the healthcare system, continues to advocate for funding of public services especially for those living in northern B.C.

"This is important especially for me in my background. We struggle with northerners having to travel to receive these services," Fletcher said.

"We need to fund these services adequately."

For Bond, healthcare is critical in B.C. and says that since the Liberal government was elected, the health care budget has doubled and by 2020, the health care budget will be $20 billion.

But Nan Kendy believes a more realistic plan should be put in place for not just health care but health care prevention by mitigating the causes that lead to disease, homelessness and poverty.

In terms of economic growth, Bond says the current Liberal government is continuing to encourage economic development where people choose to invest in B.C.

Kendy shot back saying that the condition of the earth, global warming and water pollution is what really needs attention.

"We need to look at new ways of doing business to better look after the environment," Kendy said.

Bond reminded her fellow candidates that B.C. is the only province that has a carbon tax.

"And we created it,"Bond said.

"We want to meet the needs of the environment. This isn't enough," Kendy said.

"Encouraging Site-C encourages further environmental damage."

As for Bond, Site-C remains something that the Liberal Party will continue to strongly support in providing clean energy in the long run.

'This is not viable as it will do a lot of damage to the Peace River Valley," Kendy said.

As for education, Kendy says that the Green party is dedicated to providing education from infancy to adulthood.

Fletcher was sure to bring up the issue of the school district having the most school closures of any other district in B.C.

"I've talked to so many parents who have fundraised for computers and other supplies. This is wrong," Fletcher said.

Bond agreed that school closures are difficult when grappling with them and that it is a tough decision to make.

As for post secondary education, it's all about keeping more jobs in the north and that means providing more educational opportunities in the north for Bond.

Kendy agreed.

"The world is shifting,"Kendy said. "The best investment is in education."

The event was moderated by UNBC political science professor, Gary Wilson.

The full hour-long debate will be aired this Saturday on CKPG, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The provincial election is set for May 9.

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