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Surrey South byelection candidate Q&A: Simran Sarai

BC Green Party candidate answers five questions for PAN readers
Simran Sarai (left) is the third candidiate vying for a seat in the Surrey South byelection, for the BC Green Party. (Contributed photo)

1. What do you consider to be your top priorities for ensuring quality and timely health care for residents in the Surrey South riding?

We need to address the multiple issues facing our overwhelmed healthcare system. Some of the BC Green’s top priorities include addressing the family doctor crisis, ambulance service delays and paramedic shortages, the poisoned drug crisis, and improving access to mental health care. In order to ensure quality and timely health care for residents, we need to ensure our community health infrastructure is built with the needs of current and future generations taken into account.

In the case of the Cloverdale hospital, this means ensuring that this urgently needed facility is built with critical services such as an ICU and maternity ward (not included in the glorified NDP plan). To address ambulance delays, we need to increase compensation for paramedics, who are already overworked and underpaid under the “on-call” model.

Provincial services such as hospitals shouldn’t be used for political points. Our government should collaborate with experts to ensure these facilities provide all the services that community members need.

2. What projects and approaches would you support to improve transportation, both public and private, for residents of Surrey South (particularly those who commute to their place of employment)?

Projects and approaches I support to improve public and private transportation include collaborating with municipal governments and planners to help build more vibrant and livable communities. I grew up privileged to live in close proximity to school, parks, and grocery stores, and being able to access these places without a car is an opportunity everyone should be able to have. Walkable and bikeable communities are safer communities! As a lifelong Surrey South resident who commuted to many of my jobs here in the community, improving the reliability and frequency of public transportation in the area is something that would improve the commutes of workers, as well as Surrey South residents in general.

Additional public transportation routes, such as bus lines and commuter rail, should be established to connect suburban areas with the city center. At the same time, the frequency of existing schedules should be increased. Supporting additional public transportation routes to more suburban areas and increasing the frequency of existing schedules are just two ways to improve transportation.

3. What measures should be taken to ensure that residents of Surrey South can find affordable housing, whether as buyers or renters, and to offset the general rise in the cost of living?

As a young adult, I worry every day about whether I’ll be able to afford renting as a student, let alone afford to own a house. Some steps that the BC Greens are already advocating our provincial government take to support renters immediately is introducing a rental supplement that would help close the gap between affordable rent and what renters are paying. This supplement would provide a means-tested grant to those who pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent. To support buyers, the BC Greens are pushing to close loopholes in the Speculation Tax that allow foreign investors to be exempt, as well as supporting immediate and urgent investments to affordable, supportive, and social housing, in addition to other legislative changes.

4. What measures would you support to address the current toxic drug crisis in B.C. (including Surrey South)?

The poisoned drug crisis is killing people every day. In order to save lives, we need our government to introduce an accessible and regulated safe-drug supply now. Our government also needs to provide accessible and affordable mental health support.

A safe supply is necessary to save lives – as stated in the BC Greens’ plan to address the poisoned drug crisis, people can’t seek treatment for mental health issues or an addiction unless they continue living.

5. What measures would you support to ensure that agricultural land continues to be protected in the Surrey South riding?

One of the measures that the BC Greens support to ensure that agricultural land continues to be protected in the Surrey South riding include providing $10 million dollars a year to contribute to research and support for local farmers as they adapt to changing climates.

It’s important to recognize that farmers and agricultural landowners will have various needs in Surrey South, so consulting with stakeholders on the various supports needed is essential to ensuring that agricultural land is protected into the future.