B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan take questions after signing their cooperation agreement for a minority government at the B.C. legislature May 30.

B.C. Greens exercise their influence on NDP

Renter grant, minimum wage, child care need work, Andrew Weaver says

They won’t defeat the NDP government over it, but B.C. Green MLAs don’t support NDP measures to hand out $400 annual grants to renters and set an arbitrary target of a $15 minimum wage.

Green leader Andrew Weaver says the renter rebate and the wage target were not in the NDP budget update this week because they aren’t specified in the governing agreement between the two parties. And it is that agreement, not any political party, that has the confidence of the legislature to govern.

“What the NDP promised in their election campaign is not really relevant to the situation today, because we also promised things in our election campaign, and the Liberals did as well,” Weaver said. “What is important is that we find those shared values that we can build upon, and that’s precisely what we’ve done.”

Asked Wednesday if Weaver has a veto on these measures, Premier John Horgan said work continues on the shared commitment to universal child care.

“When it comes to the renter’s rebate, we want to make sure that housing affordability is real for people,” Horgan said. “It can’t just be a slogan. The renters’ rebate was a key part of our election platform. We’re going to be working on that with the Greens and others right across B.C.”

Presenting the budget update Monday, Finance Minister Carole James said funding for key measures, including child care and the renter rebate, were delayed because several weeks were lost in the post-election uncertainty over who would govern.

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Weaver said the Greens and NDP have a shared value of making life more affordable, but rent assistance needs to go to people who most need it.

“We don’t think the means to that shared value, $200 million [in renter grants] shared by little bits to everyone, would be effective in getting to where you want to be,” Weaver said.

The fair wage commission is going ahead, but the target is gone because Weaver favours the Australian approach of getting expert input first on how to reach a living wage.

“Maybe the model of picking $15 out of the air, because Seattle did it and the B.C. Federation of Labour said do it, may not be the best approach,” Weaver said.

The NDP’s $10-a-day child care plan is similarly delayed. The Greens prefer universal early child care provided as a taxable benefit, with no cost up front and taxation at the end of the year for those who earn enough to pay.