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CUPE BC today released the results of a questionnaire about community social services that the union sent earlier this year to the leadership candidates of both the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. New Democratics.

The questionnaire, which sought the candidates’ responses to various issues affecting the sector, was sent on February 4. None of the B.C. Liberal candidates submitted answers, but all four sitting MLAs running for the NDP leadership—Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth, John Horgan, and Nicholas Simons—did respond. The fifth NDP leadership candidate, Dana Larsen, did not respond.

CUPE represents 2,500 members in the community social services sector in this province, so it’s important for our members to know where these candidates stand, and what their vision is for the future of these critical services,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

We’re happy that the NDP candidates have treated this questionnaire seriously and taken the time to answer our questions.”

The candidates provided detailed answers on a number of issues.

Asked what areas of NDP policy on community social services need to be improved, Adrian Dix replied that there needs to be a better balance between services delivered at the community level and those delivered through larger institutions. Mike Farnworth condemned recent cuts to Community Living BC, pledging to advocate for clients, staff and families forced to take on greater responsibilities with fewer resources.

In a question on contracting out and privatization, John Horgan said that all current private contracts must be re-evaluated to determine  if they are providing the fullest range of services, meet the needs of communities and protect the most vulnerable. On the question of improving community social services workers’ ability to bargain fair agreements, Nicholas Simons—a former social worker—replied that support of free collective bargaining should be accompanied by support for municipal governments to adopt a living wage policy similar to that adopted by New Westminster.