Mike de Jong speaking at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna on Friday.—Alistair Waters/Capital News

De Jong floats idea of more money for kids’ educations

Former finance minister and Liberal leadership candidate says he’d add $500 a year to RESPs

Former B.C. finance minister Mike de Jong says education and a job are the keys to fighting poverty.

So, de Jong, one of six candidates vying for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party, said Friday if he wins, and the Liberals form the next B.C. government, he will increase the amount of money the province gives children for their post-secondary education.

As finance minister, de Jong introduced a program where the province provides every child born in B.C. after Jan. 1, 2006 $1,200 when they turn six years of age to be placed in a registered education savings plan. The money grows over time and is to be used for post-secondary education or trades training. On Friday in Kelowna, de Jong said if he was premier, an additional $500 per year would be added for each eligible child until they graduate from high school.

Related: Former Kelowna mayor endorses Andrew Wilkinson

According to figures released by the de Jong campaign, under his plan, combining provincial and federal grants with savings of just $10 per month by parents, a child born in 2014 could have $11,200 by the time he or she graduates from high school.

“The boost to the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant is an investment in the next generation and in our province,” said de Jong in making the announcement at UBC Okanagan.

“An education unlocks unimagined possibilities for individuals and it helps build a more prosperous province.”

De Jong is in town to participate in the fourth B.C. leadership campaign debate Saturday at the Coast Capri Hotel. The debate, which is free and open to the public, starts at 10:30 a.m. The doors open at 10 a.m.

The B.C. Liberal Party will hold a leadership convention Feb. 3, following a vote by party members, to name its new leader.

The race is pitting de Jong against former transportation minister Todd Stone, former advanced education minister Andrew Wilkinson, former Surrey mayor and former Conservative MP Dianne Watts, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan and current Liberal MLA Michael Lee.

De Jong said his plan to increase the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant would cost about $175 million but said the investment would be worth it.

“We don’t manage our economy and budget well for its own sake,” he said. “We do it so we have the ability to invest in programs that make life better for people.”

But given that the job he is seeking will make him the leader of the Opposition if he wins and not premier, de Jong took a few shots at the current NDP government in his comments.

“The NDP’s reckless approach to our economy is risking our province’s ability to make investments like this,” he said. “That’s why I’ll continue holding them accountable every day.”

He said while he’s proud of what his party did while in power for 16 years, it’s clear given the results of last May’s provincial election it must reconnect with voters and not only hear their concerns, but act on them.

The Liberals won the most seats in May’s election but fell one seat short of a majority. As a result, the combined effort of the NDP and the B.C. Green Party ousted former premier Christy Clark’s minority Liberal government in a vote of non-confidence shortly after the election. Clark resigned as premier and Liberal leader in August and quit politics.

De Jong is stressing his experience, the fact as finance minister he oversaw five consecutive balanced budgets and the fact that former government left one of the strongest provincial economies in the country to its successor.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fire destroys Kelowna motorhome

Kelowna fire crews arrived to find a fully-engulfed motorhome Friday morning.

IH concludes review into breach of employee information

Interior Health concluded a comprehensive review of a privacy breach.

Smart Cities Challenge needs community support

What challenges could Penticton solve with innovative ideas and $50 million?

Kelowna council settles on 3.6 per cent tax increase for 2018

“Safety” budget heavy on a wide-range of public safety related spending

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Myers high on Canada

AT RANDOM: Mike Myers says it right, eh

B.C. government to launch coastal ferry review in January

The Province will begin a comprehensive review of the coastal ferry service in British Columbia in 2018

Federal Crown drops appeal after charges against pot activist dismissed

Dana Larsen said he was served notice at his home in Vancouver and the case was to be heard July 2

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

Kensington Palace announced the date to the public Friday

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

Charges in car wash shooting stalled

Court waits for police watchdog report on Salmon Arm incident.

PART I: How Prince Rupert schools teach Indigenous language to hundreds of students

A multimedia series with videos and photos from children’s Sm’algyax classes on B.C.’s North Coast

Most Read