Campbell ready to resign if Clark wants shot at seat

Rob Shaw and Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist (Victoria)

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said Monday he will resign his seat in his Vancouver riding if Liberal leader and premier-designate Christy Clark wants to run there….

Critics complained Monday that Clark’s “family first” platform, which she credits for her leadership victory Saturday, lacks the targets, timelines and substance needed to truly to help B.C. families.

Clark told reporters Sunday that voters embraced her desire for change and her “families first” platform.

But aside from larger economic initiatives -such as tax credits for businesses, eliminating the training wage and consulting on raising the minimum wage -there were only a handful of family-specific promises in Clark’s platform.

She said she’d create a Family Day holiday in February, boost the Caregiver Tax Credit and create a family tax credit for children in sports and the arts. She also said she’d return gaming grant money to charities and boost the role of non-profits.

It’s more “sloganeering” than change, said Maurine Karagianis, the Opposition NDP children’s critic.

“If families first are the real thing then she has to look at the minimum wage, a poverty-reduction plan with embedded legislation like seven other provinces have done, and give us a universal child-care program,” said Karagianis.

Hard-and-fast legislated targets would show she’s serious about reducing child poverty, said Seth Klein of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and co-chairman of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

“You need to report out annually on progress so you don’t get five years down the road and say, ‘Well, sorry, we missed the targets,’ ” said Klein.

The minimum wage needs to be increased to at least $11 an hour – to bring a full-time worker earning the wage up to the low income cutoff – and welfare rates need a substantial boost, Klein said.

The province also needs a comprehensive child-care plan, said Kelly Newhook, Together Against Poverty Society executive director.

“The majority of people living in poverty are still single women and they can’t afford child care,” she said.

An earnings exemption for people on income assistance is a practical step that should be taken right away, Newhook said.

Currently, earnings are deducted from assistance cheques.

That means people trying to get back into the workforce are often faced with the dilemma of taking a part-time job without knowing whether they will get enough shifts the following month to cover the rent, Newhook said….

“The No. 1 thing on my agenda at the moment is making sure we manage the budget well … make sure we’re on target to balance it, put families at the centre of the agenda and make sure we find ways to demonstrate that government is listening to people,” she said.