Sargy Chima – Liberal Party of BC

  1. Why do you think you would be the best choice to represent the voters in Surrey-Whalley?

Candidate to answer

  1. What do you think are the strengths and challenges of Surrey City Centre? What would your role be in building on the strengths? How would you address the challenges?

Candidate to answer

  1. A variety of housing is needed: affordable housing for youth, families and seniors, supportive housing for those requiring help with addition and mental illness and transitional housing for those moving from the streets into permanent housing. What do you see as the role of the provincial government in housing and what would you advocate for if elected to office?

Since 2001, the BC Liberal government has committed to spending more than $6.3 billion to provide affordable housing for individuals, seniors and families across British Columbia.  More than 104,000 households benefit from a diverse range of provincial housing programs and services.  We have completed close to 24,000 new units of affordable housing.  And we provide financial assistance to more than 30,000 family and senior households renting in the private market.

The key to improving affordability over the long term is creating new supply.  Our government is acting to help the market respond to increasing demand for homes.  We have committed an additional $920 million over the last year to ensure more British Columbians have access to some 5,300 units of new, affordable housing for low income individuals, seniors and families and to help prevent homelessness.

The BC Liberal government has worked in partnership with eight municipalities, including Surrey, to provide close to $500 million to build more than 2,000 new supportive housing units for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Last year, the Province contributed more than $47.8 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 8,000 households in Surrey. This includes more than $13.2 million for emergency shelters and housing for those who are homeless.  We recently announced funding for new homeless shelters in Guildford and on Green Timbers Way, and we are helping redevelop the Hyland Farms shelter. 

And we have outreach teams that help connect homeless individuals with the supports they need – from finding shelter and permanent housing to getting medical help, and applying for financial assistance.

If elected, I will continue these efforts to assist people in Surrey who need help the most.  I believe that addressing homelessness requires all levels of government to work together with the non-profit housing sector.  Together, we can make a difference.

  1. What do you see as the priority for health investment funding in Surrey and why?

BC has the best health outcomes in Canada.  Since forming government, Today’s BC Liberals have made record investments to ensure British Columbians live long, healthy lives.  From our funding for new and expanded hospitals, to more than doubling the number of doctors who graduate from B.C. medical schools, to creating healthy-senior friendly communities, Today’s BC Liberals understand that there is nothing more important than the health of an individual. And while we have made huge strides, we know there is much more to do as our population continues to grow and age. Today’s BC Liberals have a plan for health care – now and into the future.

Approximately $12 billion has been invested in health facilities, including 30 completed major

health capital projects throughout our province, such as:

  • $512 million for a new critical care tower, including a new emergency department, neonatal intensive care unit and additional inpatient beds at Surrey Memorial Hospital; and
  • $237 million Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, Fraser Valley’s first outpatient hospital.

If re-elected, Today’s BC Liberals will invest $2.7 billion in capital spending on infrastructure in the health sector over the next three years. Thanks to our strong economy, we are able to make these investments in health care here in Surrey, including getting another MRI machine next year here in Surrey.

  1. Multiple levels of Government have recently committed funds to address emerging health issues like the recent rise in opioid deaths. However, drug, alcohol and mental health issues have been plaguing our community for years with limited relief for the businesses and residents who deal daily with the behavior of these vulnerable people. What solutions would you try to introduce that would address the needs of the whole community?

There was a time when those with mental health and substance use problems would be forced to suffer in silence because of the shame and stigma associated with these treatable disorders. Today’s BC Liberals are taking action to address mental health and substance use, including:

  • Investing $1.5 billion annually to address mental health and substance use, including programs for children and youth.
  • Helping around 27,000 children and youth with community mental health services annually – over double the number who received services in 2003.
  • $10 million for the inaugural BC Centre on Substance Use.

While we’re making progress to prevent, treat and support people on their path to recovery.

2016 was also a year of needless deaths from opioid overdoses, particularly with the rise of illicit fentanyl and carfentanil across Canada. Every one of these preventable deaths reminds us that no one is spared from the danger of these toxic drugs, or the suffering of addiction.

Our government has led the country in our response to this crisis, and was the first province to declare a public health emergency and assemble an expert Joint Task Force.   We also:

  • Invested $100 million to fund a comprehensive strategy to combat overdoses
  • Increased access and coverage for opioid substitute treatments, like suboxone
  • Met our 500-treatment bed commitment
  • Established a BC Centre on Substance Use – the first of its kind
  • Distributed over 30,000 no charge Naloxone kits

Going forward, we will utilize the $10 million provided by the federal government to continue to prevent overdose deaths. We will also fund an additional 250 mental health and problematic substance use beds by 2022.

We also recognize the impact that that mental health and addictions can have on the community. As government, we have been clear that we will not tolerate gang violence or gun play in Surrey or anywhere else in the province. We know that we are stronger when we work together – We will continue to work closely with the City of Surrey, Surrey RCMP and B.C.’s anti-gang unit to stop guns and gangs and the illicit drug trade that often fuels them. This work and collaboration is paying off:

  • Surrey RCMP’s 3rd quarter crime stats for 2016 show a 13 per cent decrease in violent crime, 25% decrease in attempted murders and 5% decrease in Criminal Code offences overall compared to this time last year.
  • And earlier this year, Surrey RCMP seized 5,000 suspected fentanyl doses in a series of busts following a two-month investigation.

This has been possible by taking actions, such as:

  • two new 10 person anti-gang units led by B.C.’s anti-gang unit CFSEU-BC;
  • 100 new officers to the Surrey Police Department;
  • over 1M dollars in Civil Forfeiture Grants since 2010 for programs aimed at youth in gangs, domestic violence and other community-based programs;
  • continued financial support for the Surrey Wrap and Surrey Safe School program to help prevent young new recruits from entering into gang life;
  • ongoing End Gang life school presentations – to date over 20,000 students including every middle and high school student in Nanaimo and Kelowna;
  • a new Gang Exit Pilot program aimed at supporting gang entrenched adult;
  • a new City of Surrey Community Safety Strategy, developed in partnership with the Surrey RCMP and CFSEU-BC to help combat criminal activity linked to the illegal drug trade and other public safety concerns;
  • a Surrey RCMP led parent hotline to help parents who fear their child may be involved in criminal activities or gang life; and
  • a parent handbook created by CFSEU-BC to help parents spot and know how to talk to their kids about gang involvement;

This is a great start and I am confident in the work underway and collaboration taking place between the province, City of Surrey, law enforcement and the community generally to keep these stats moving in the right direction. 

  1. Given that Surrey is the largest school district in BC and continues to experience strong growth, what is your commitment to seeing that Surrey’s students get their fair share? Does your party commit to an increased capital budget for K-12 schools to address the overcrowding in Surrey Schools?

BC’s total education budget for public and independent schools is $5.9 billion this year – a record $314 million (5.6%) increase from the 2016-17 school year. Annual education funding is up 44% since 2000/01, or more than $1.8 billion, at a time when there are fewer students in the school system. We are also making significant investments in the Surrey School District:

  • Per pupil funding is at $8,552, up from $5,743 in 2000/01
  • Operating funding is at $610,509,682, up from $336,832,218 in 2000/01
  • Capital project investments since 2001/02: $ 368,735,646

This historic funding has contributed to BC students consistently achieving high scores in international studies. Our Grade 10 students were recently ranked first in the world for reading, second in science, and sixth in math by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The record level of investments we are making in our schools today is only possible because we have been able to get to yes on economic development. BC Liberals will continue to deliver a well-funded system that supports students and helps them achieve their full potential.

But we know the world doesn’t stand still, and we have to keep working to stay on top. That’s why Today’s BC Liberals will invest over $2 billion in capital spending over the next three years for schools, including addressing significant enrolment growth in Surrey with $217 million for up to 5,200 new student seats. We also commit to undertaking a full educational funding review to ensure rural and fast-growing school districts like Surrey have the resources we need to educate our students.

  1. Currently, funding for portables at local elementary and secondary schools comes out of operations budgets thus cutting into day-to-day needs of the students. Will you and your party address this inequity?

Today’s BC Liberals will invest over $2 billion in capital spending over the next three years for schools, including addressing significant enrolment growth in Surrey with $217 million for up to 5,200 new student seats. As noted above, we will also undertake a full educational funding review to ensure rural and fast-growing school districts like Surrey have the resources we need to educate our students.  If elected, I will work to address the portable situation in Surrey.

  1. While there has been additional funding for SFU to build their new building, the demand for post-secondary seats South of the Fraser greatly exceeds the supply. How will you address this?

Today’s BC Liberals are determined to ensure British Columbians are first in line for the job openings to come, with up to one million job openings expected by 2025. Our plan is focused on taking full advantage of our growing economy by ensuring that the right training is available at our post-secondary institutions in different regions of the province. From trades to tech, we are re-engineering the way our post-secondary system works to ensure British Columbians can take full advantage of the jobs of today, and tomorrow.

That’s why are making targeted investments, creating more spaces in Surrey, including:

  • $14.7 million into the $22-million in upgrades to the Spruce Building at Kwantlen Polytechnic. This will provide additional space for 300 students in new programs including new bachelor of science degree programs in biology and health sciences. Completion is expected in 2018.
  • $45 million into the $126-million Energy Systems Engineering Building at SFU Surrey, which includes the mechatronics technology incubator program. Completion is expected by the end of 2018.

We will also create an additional 1,000 new grads in tech supporting science, technology, engineering and math disciplines in universities and colleges across the province by 2022. Once those 1,000 additional graduates have completed their fourth year, we will expand by another 1,000.

The BC Liberal government is able to make significant investments like these thanks to the fastest growing economy in Canada. We will stick to our plan to keep growing our economy, allowing us to invest $2.6 billion in capital spending by post-secondary institutions for new buildings and renewal of infrastructure at campuses across the province.

  1. Transportation is a big problem in Surrey. Please identify what you think are the three biggest transportation issues in Surrey and how do you (and your party) plan to address these issues?

Transit – the BC Liberal government is committed to matching the federal government’s contribution of $2.2 billion towards Metro Vancouver transit projects over 11 years. We will negotiate with all three levels of government on project specifics, with the Surrey LRT Project and the Broadway Line our top two priorities.

Highway 1 – we’re starting the work on 202-216th and are now working with the federal government to advance the next phase, 216th-264th.

Tolls: We’re committed to capping tolls at $500 annually for commuters for Port Mann, Golden Ears and George Massey Tunnel. The NDP is the Party of ‘No” – if it were up to the NDP, traffic would still be backed up for hours on the old Port Mann bridge, and they would cancel the George Massey Tunnel replacement. Capping tolls helps makes life more affordable for families will still allowing for needed infrastructure to be paid for without bringing debt onto government books, which would lead to credit downgrades and more debt.

  1. Creating jobs close to home is key to Surrey’s success. What initiatives do you think will help create jobs and prepare workers (not just youth but the current workforce) for jobs of the future?

Today’s BC Liberals have built a solid foundation in British Columbia, with the fastest growing economy in the country. We have a plan to keep this momentum building, which includes controlling government spending, keeping taxes low and supporting a skilled workforce in British Columbia. 

Our BC Jobs Plan includes new, ambitious targets:

  1. British Columbia will be the most diversified economy in Canada by 2022.
  2. We will continue to ensure British Columbians are first in line for the nearly one million job openings through 2025.
  3. British Columbia will be a leader in Canada in driving innovation and competitiveness, while demonstrating climate leadership.
  4. We will continue to be a leader in Canada in breaking down barriers to business and trade and supporting the export capacity of B.C. businesses.

Earlier this month, the BC Liberal government announced Innovation Boulevard in Surrey’s HealthTech district – a collaborative cluster of health technology companies, academic research labs, and health practitioners. As Western Canada’s first HealthTech accelerator, Innovation Boulevard will bring together industry, innovators, health workers and investors to help grow companies and bring solutions to the BC and global marketplace – in this case, improving medical care.

Today’s BC Liberals will work collaboratively to foster entrepreneurship and help businesses grow. We’re proud to be one of only two provinces to receive an ‘A’ grade from the CFIB for our efforts to reduce red tape – six years in a row. It’s why we’re helping small business expand by increasing access to capital and encouraging investment through the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit. And it’s why we’re focused on improving access to services, streamlining process and simplifying regulations, by acting on over 100 ideas suggested by British Columbians through a public engagement on red tape.

Today’s BC Liberals are determined to ensure British Columbians are first in line for the job openings to come, with up to one million job openings expected by 2025. We are re-engineering our education system under our Skills for Jobs Blueprint to ensure education dollars are targeted towards in demand jobs. This will ensure British Columbians have the tools needed to take full advantage of our growing economy. 

  1. Surrey is a diverse community in age and ethnic make-up. If elected, what do you plan to do to engage and remain connected to your constituency? 

Candidate to answer

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