Dix’s priorities come with hefty price tag; Polls put new leader in premier’s chair but promises will require huge chunk of revenue

Michael Smyth, The Province

… now that Adrian Dix has been anointed by pollsters as the public’s top choice for premier, it’s time for a little reality check.

So let’s dig into the recent archives to see just what Dix and his party have promised and demanded so far, how much it would cost and how the heck they’d pay for it…:

EDUCATION: Dix has been cautious when commenting on the teachers’ union and their astronomical contract demands, but he’s generally supportive of their position. Teachers and their supporters “are not asking for much,” he told the NDP convention in December.

The teachers estimate their demands at $565 million, while the government calculates it at $1.3 billion. So let’s be generous and take the teachers’ number.

Estimated cost: $565 million.

CHILD CARE: “I am committed to expand child care, to initiate a provincial child-care system and to pressure Ottawa to play a major role in such a system,” Dix said during his leadership bid.

Good luck trying to convince Prime Minister Stephen Harper to go along with that one! B.C. would be on our own.

Estimated cost: The mind boggles. But consider Quebec’s child-care program costs $2.1 billion a year, more than double what B.C. spends on early learning and child-development programs.

ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGY: Reducing the growing gap between rich and poor is a top priority for Dix, but how would he do that and what would it cost?

The New Democrats have repeatedly called for an “anti-poverty strategy” that NDP MLA Nicholas Simons said could include higher welfare rates and “massive infrastructure spending on affordable housing.”

Estimated cost: $2 billion, according to [MLA Nicholas] Simons.

ADVANCED EDUCATION: Dix promised last week to restore non-repayable student grants cut by the Liberals. During his campaign for the NDP leadership, he also promised to cut interest payments on unpaid student loans.

Estimated cost: $148 million.

EVERYTHING ELSE: I didn’t have room for increased spending on legal aid, and sports community and cultural grants, and infrastructure spending, and raises for all the public- sector unions already drooling at the thought of a Dix government.

How would he pay for it all? So far Dix has promised to raises taxes on banks and corporations. But now that he’s the top choice for the top job, the pressure will build for a fuller explanation.