Cheryl Ashlie, Liberal
Project manager for the Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice, age 61
My husband of 39 years and I have three grown children and two grandchildren. I have been a long-time champion for the people of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows through my volunteering and political involvement.
I was honoured to receive the Maple Ridge Community Foundation’s citizen of the year award in 2017 for my volunteering and involvement on non-profit boards, such as Alouette River Management Society, Ridge Meadows Education Foundation, and Community Services.
People appreciate the level of thought and honesty I bring to discussions, which you can get a sense of from my expanded answers online. You will note I answered “Don’t know” to some questions, which is due to the complexity of them making it impossible for me to answer with a simple yes/no.
To help voters make their choices on election day, the Maple Ridge News is asking local candidates a series of questions on issues of importance, inviting each candidate to participate.
They were asked to a ‘yes’, a ‘no,’ or a ‘don’t know’ (Y,N,D) response to EACH of the numbered questions for the grid published in the Oct. 15 edition of The News. Candidates were also invited to expand on ANY OR ALL of the questions (to a maximum of 250 words each), with one of their choice to be included in our print edition on Oct. 22. Here’s all their replies.
1. Has supportive housing made a difference in addressing homelessness in Maple Ridge?
Answer: Prior to the NDP taking office, the BC Liberals were actively addressing homelessness through supportive housing initiatives of – which our communities benefited from.
More than$200 million was provided in a year to support more than 14,000 emergency shelter spaces, subsidized units, and rent supplements for those who were homeless across B.C.
Since 2001, 6,900 housing units have been developed or preserved for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.
BC Liberals partnered with eight local governments to build more than 2,000 new supportive housing units: the Community Services project being built at 228th Street and 119th Avenue is a BC Liberal project, as is Alouette Heights, which was intended for second-stage housing.
In 2014, the new homeless prevention program was implemented to provide people at risk of homelessness rent supplements and support services and more than 3,000 units of housing in the Downtown Eastside were secured.
Outreach teams provided support in more than 60 communities to help connect homeless people to services and stable housing.
The BC Liberal model that was interrupted by the NDP provided more staffing levels and support than what is being provided by the NDP today.
I am proud that we are committed to rebuilding an even more responsive supportive housing plan to prevent homelessness.
The BC Liberal plan will work to end the NDP’s failed warehousing model that is not helping people recover from their circumstances and is having a negative impact on our community.
2. Are you in favour of government providing drug users with a safe supply to address the opioid overdose crisis?
Answer: A safe supply needs to be part of a holistic plan.
The BC Liberals have committed to the four-pillars approach: Prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement.
It would be reasonable that within the plan a safe supply would need to be considered short term, for stabilization.
Andrew Wilkinson is advocating for a medical lens to address the root cause in combination with recovery and prevention strategies to stop the cycle of addiction.
People become addicted for many reasons: pain management, mental health, trauma, or accidental addiction through recreational use, to name a few.
It could be assumed that people living on the streets would be immediate benefactors of a safe supply, as would the surrounding community with the drop in theft and other related crimes an addict resorts to acquire drugs.
However, not all addicts live on the streets, which is evidenced by the number of opioid deaths that are occurring in homes.
Stigma may prevent functioning addicts from seeking a safe drug supply, as they are reluctant to reveal their addiction.
We need to make it safe for people to come forward for help so that people know that once they recover, they can reinsert themselves back into their lives.
I have heard from people frustrated with crime in our community, and from addicts themselves, that supporting addiction without a plan for recovery, such as the NDP are perpetuating, is not an option.
Our goal is to provide a complete response to addiction through the four-pillars approach.
3. Can Pitt Meadows count on highway improvements actually being realized at the Harris Road/Lougheed Highway intersection in the next four years?
Answer: I answered “I don’t know” to this question, because at the deadline for the yes/no section our platform was not fully developed.
However, we have now announced our $30.9-billion infrastructure plan that will build more schools, hospitals, transit, and roads throughout the province and you have my commitment to advocate aggressively for our share.
Which is a stark contrast to what Minister [Lisa] Beare did with the NDP’s insider payoff scheme that is estimated to add as much as $4.8 billion more to the cost of public infrastructure projects in BC – that’s nearly $4,000 for every family in the province – with no projects for our communities, other than modular housing.
In fact, every infrastructure project we benefit from has been built by the BC Liberals – Pitt River Bridge replacement, Golden Ears Bridge, Port Mann Bridge replacement, South Perimeter Road, Lougheed Highway upgrades, Abernathy upgrades, Haney Bypass upgrades, improved commuter routes, new schools, seismic upgrades to existing schools, and many tri-government projects such as the 232nd Street bridge, trails, parks, and recreation.
The BC Liberals build British Columbia, the NDP focus on buying votes under the community benefit agreement that increases costs for the taxpayer, which is one of many reasons I decided to run for the BC Liberals.
It is also important to note that the NDP is running on a platform of improving health care, yet during their previous 13 years in power they built zero hospitals.
In contrast, during the BC Liberal’s 16 years in power we built 14.
4. With Golden Ears Provincial Park and others in the area at capacity during peak times, should camping and park expansion be a priority in the riding?
Answer: A BC Liberal government has made camping and expanding parks a priority and will restore the NDP’s cuts to BC Parks, because we are proud of our landscapes.
Our plan will double the number of provincial park campsites in areas with growing demand.
Improving safe parking and other amenities in high-use day area, to conserve our natural heritage and protect backcountry access.
Creating new environmental work-experience opportunities for young people in provincial larks and habitat-management, through a new work experience for students (WESt) program, in collaboration with the federal government.
Work with indigenous people, to provide interpretation and education services in parks, and enhance cultural and environmental understanding.
Improve the frustrating BC Parks camping reservation system, to provide short-notice camping options for local residents, and make the reservations process fairer for all.
5. Do you support the expansion of $10 per day daycare?
Answer: Our priority will be to implement a $1.1-billion income-tested childcare plan: $10-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $65,000; $20-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $90,000; and $30-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $125,000.
Implementation of a new, online province-wide electronic application that is voluntary for parents and required for all providers receiving government funding.
A parent will have the option to reject an invitation for an available space and wait for the next one.
We will support a variety of non-profit and market-based childcare providers and create incentives for employers to support childcare options for employees.
We will expand access to before-and-after school care in schools.
Work collaboratively with the federal government to further expand child care options.
Expand training and support for child care workers.
Replace the Minister of State for Child Care with a full ministry of childcare to manage licensing, funding, and oversight.
Our plan is deliverable, unlike the NDP’s failed promise of universal $10-a day, which John Horgan admitted was only a “slogan,” which is evidenced by their 85-per-cent failure rate. And out [of] the 15 per cent they delivered on, only two per cent are part of a $10-a-day pilot project.
In contrast, when the BC Liberals held office, 22,000 families paid less than $10-a-day and 3,330 spaces were created across the province annually from 2005-2017.
But we can do better and I will work to deliver more.
6. During a second wave of COVID-19 would you support closing schools?
Answer: I understand that there is a lot of concern with the loss of education and the ability of families to provide daycare when the parents’ jobs are not affected by COVID shut downs.
However, in the event we were to have a second wave that presented us with rising death rates due to COVID, public health has the authority to direct such actions and I believe it is the responsibility of government to respond accordingly.
Although, I believe the government should be doing everything within its authority to mitigate the impact of a second wave through continuing to fund an aggressive course of action in the area of contact tracing, testing, and treatment improvements.
I also think that the government should be actively following up with school districts to ensure the needs of the schools are being met so that staff can attain the requirements within the COVID plans.
The NDP showed serious lack of leadership with the return to school plans by leaving individual school districts floundering to design safe return to school plans on their own, and the NDP did not provide the public with an accounting of whether the students, teachers, and support staff are indeed in a safe environment, prior to leaving everyone in a lurch with their snap election.
7. During a second wave of COVID-19 would you support closing businesses?
Answer: Again, if there were rising death rates, closures would have to be considered. But I believe that many more considerations should be put in place prior to a complete closure.
For instance, during the first wave some areas of the province had no cases and a less stringent approach was suggested, which with all of the learnings from the first wave, a regional lens should be considered for an area not affected.
During the first wave, masks were not mandatory, but now they are an accepted tool for preventing spread, so perhaps an even broader application of wearing a mask could mitigate the need for a complete closure.
Government needs support businesses in applying the learnings from the first wave so that they can adjust their practices or redesign their facilities to mitigate the spread of the virus and prevent the need for mass closures again.
The BC Liberals, Greens, and NDP agreed to a $1.3-billion COVID funding package for businesses, which could have assisted them with these steps and other needs, but the NDP opted to sit on those funds and continue to let businesses fail so that they could use the funds as part of their election offerings.
Not only has the NDP let businesses down, but the collaboration that was occurring between the three parties for the greater good was also thrown out for the NDPs political gain.
8. Is government spending the best way to stimulate the economy as it recovers from the global pandemic?
Answer: At the time of the y/n submission we had not developed our full platform, due to the snap election.
To date, our platform has involved government spending to stimulate the economy during the pandemic and as we move forward into full recovery, which is prudent for government to do during times of austerity.
BC Liberals have a long history for building British Columbia and our economic recovery plan continues on that foundation.
We are committing to the largest infrastructure commitment in the history of B.C. with a total investment over three years of $30.9 billion, inclusive of replacing the George Massey Tunnel, other transportation improvements, such as TransLink expansion in population growth areas; schools, Foundry Centres, hospitals, emergency rooms, mental health beds, primary care clinics, seniors’ care homes, mental health treatment and affordable housing.
Other avenues to stimulate the economy will be by supporting individuals and business.
We will provide tax relief through the removal of the PST and Small Business Income Tax; assist businesses with adapting to COVID-19 protections; modernize regulation for investment in B.C. to ensure sustainable and efficient land-use decisions with high level of environmental protection steps within a timely assessment process; address barriers in the trucking industry, forestry, and natural resource development.
In a nutshell, our goal is to expand infrastructure with the largest investment in B.C. history, reduce taxes, end the ICBC monopoly, work with Indigenous peoples to achieve reconciliation and new opportunities for all and a plan to rebuild trust and confidence throughout B.C.
9. Should government divert funding away from policing, and toward social and mental health services?
Answer: Our plan is a comprehensive plan that is inclusive of more mental health facilities, resources and supports.
Specific to policing and social service funding, we will expand the “Car 40” model that has police and psychiatric nurses responding to mental health emergency calls together – which ensures the person in a psychotic state is treated through the lens of a medical call, as opposed to a policing/crime response.
Two hundred police officers and 100 psychiatric nurses will be hired to provide this progressive model throughout the province.
Other response teams such as assertive community treatment (ACT) teams that provide person-centred, recovery-oriented outreach mental health services will also be expanded.
The teams provide flexible, community-based support for adults with serious and persistent mental illness that makes it difficult to manage their daily living.
Police budgets have taken on the burden of covering the costs of responding to mental health emergency calls and until mental health is properly supported and funded within its own budget, it would be premature to say whether funds from policing should be redirected to social and mental health services, as there may be areas of policing that have been neglected, due to the burden of responding to mental health calls on the streets.
I believe that the BC Liberals within our total platform has designed the better plan to address addiction and mental health issues, along with a public safety strategy to keep our communities safe.
10. Should the province provide B.C. residents with a universal basic income?
Answer: To answer that honestly would be very difficult with my limited knowledge of the implications of such.
However, I do believe at this time, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused urgent economic challenges for families and workers, many of whom are relying on federal COVID-19 emergency benefits – 1.2 million British Columbians.
Our plan focuses on rebuilding our economy by supporting people, communities, and businesses.
We will provide savings to individuals and families by eliminating the PST for one year and cutting it to three per cent the following year, deliver affordable $10-a-day child care for those with annual incomes up to $65,000, followed by $20-a-day for annual incomes up to $90,000 and $30-a-day for annual household incomes up to $125,000, and end the ICBC monopoly to provide drivers with a choice and the best rates available.
All of these steps are to support all British Columbians as we work through the challenge of COVID-19 together.
OTHER LOCAL CANDIDATE Q&As:
Maple Ridge-Mission riding
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding
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