Oceanside News organized a Zoom forum which gave the local candidates an opportunity to share their ideas and party platform on a variety of issues relevant to the Parksville-Qualicum area. This section deals with the challenge of homelessness in our community and how the candidates propose addressing it.
Adam Walker, BC NDP candidate
Walker said the NDP invested substantially in supportive housing to address a large tent city in Nanaimo last year.
“The goal to end homelessness as you described is not going to be realistic, it’s something that we’re going to work on for a long time,” he said.
The NDP plan to create 10 complex care homes across the province to support people who need additional help that supportive housing does not provide.
Rob Lyon, BC Green candidate
Lyon said the Greens’ “housing first” policy aims to make sure everyone has a place to live. Homelessness, mental health and addiction seem to go together, he said.
“Sending a police officer to handle a homeless person who is on drugs doesn’t work. [The police are] in uniform, they’re wearing a gun. No matter how well trained they are, there’s a disconnect there,” he said, adding social workers should be used to help people experiencing mental health and homelessness issues.
John St John, Independent
St John criticized previous governments’ lack of action on homelessness. He pointed out the difficulty of getting a job for a person living on the street.
“Having an interview, even when you’ve got a house and you’re well rested and you can shower is traumatic enough, can you imagine what it’s like going to an interview when you live on the street?” said St John.
Don Purdey, BC Conservative Party
Purdey said he separated homeless people into three groups. The first, he said, need help to get off the streets, but can then return to living independently in a home. Others have mental health issues and some need to be institutionalized, according to the Conservative candidate.
“Some of these people when left alone, cannot manage. You gotta work with people and give them more freedom as they progress. Some will never be able to be on the street or on their own,” said Purdey.
He said people experiencing addiction must be willing to accept treatment, or they cannot be helped.
Michelle Stilwell, BC Liberal Party
Stilwell criticized the NDP’s decision to relocate hundreds of homeless people to hotels.
“We will provide the needed treatments and support, including addiction treatment and recovery programs, because we simply can’t be warehousing individuals as the NDP has done,” she said.
Stilwell said there was a lack of public consultation before the decision was made. She said the Liberals would improve mental health supports in secondary schools and increase the number of psychiatric nurses in B.C.