VANCOUVER - The B.C. New Democrats are pledging to restore funding to a popular science program started by the B.C. Liberals but cancelled last year.

Opposition Leader Adrian Dix promised Monday that an NDP government would reinvest $1 million annually for the B.C. Program for Awareness and Learning of Science, a sort of travelling road show developed by Vancouver's Science World.

Dix said the government made a mistake last year by slashing the program, which was started under former premier Gordon Campbell's leadership in 2005.

"I think the program was excellent and it met its test at every performance indicator required," Dix told a throng of parents and children on Family Day inside the recognizable silver globe near the city's downtown core.

The NDP says surveys conducted by Science World while the program was still in place showed 89 per cent of students who participated reported it stirred their interest in science.

The program spread science to 140 communities and an average of 190,000 people — from Haida Gwaii to Fort St. John — including at least 45 First Nations' communities.

Dix said it could inspire students to work towards careers in science and technology, adding that 147,000 jobs will open in the field over the next decade.

"In the long run, the health of our society and our economy will depend on our ability to innovate in science and technology."

Christine Shanz, executive director of the Northwest Science and Innovation Society, appeared by videolink from Terrace, B.C., to support Dix's announcement.

She said she's pleased to hear the outreach program could return to deliver hands-on and interactive activities, allowing students and families in rural communities access to science programming without the need to travel to Vancouver.

"These students need access to the same experiences as those located in the Lower Mainland," she said.

Shanz noted there has been a surge of development in mining exploration, liquid natural gas and other alternative energy sources in that part of the province.

"We need to students to consider a career such as biology, engineering and environmental science," she said. "Science World's outreach program has been a key component in our region for promoting a wider understanding of the excitement and contribution of science and technology."

"When the funding ceased for Science World's outreach program, we were very sorry to see them leave."

Dix made his announcement a day before the legislature resumes for a five-week session prior to a month of campaigning followed by a general election in mid-May.

He said that if an NDP government took office, it would also plan to look at making better arrangements for building seabuses and for buying food for hospitals.

Dix said his party would also introduce legislation early in the session to end the environmental assessment equivalency agreement signed with Ottawa, allowing the federal review of the controversial Enbridge pipeline project to serve as the province's assessment as well.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • VIkram Vij, Chef, Vancouver

    <strong>"... open the borders."</strong> "Let everybody come in and enjoy being multicultural."

  • Mayor Mike Bernier, Dawson Creek

    <strong>"... bring trust back to politicians."</strong> " I would personally love to see from the political side of things, municipal or provincial, that we reach out and try to do a better job of engaging the public and bringing them along for all the decisions being made."

  • Ta'Kaiya Blaney, Singer/Activist, North Vancouver

    <strong>"... I <em>will </em>protect the wilderness and coast of B.C. from development."</strong> "In my culture it's part of my past and understanding that everything is connected so once you take away the cedar trees and clear-cut the forest, how are we supposed to make cedar baskets? It's important to me, to First Nations in B.C. to keep our culture alive and pass down what has been passed down to us."

  • Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang

    <strong>"... build more affordable housing."</strong> "For me it's about making sure we have a range of housing available in the cities and the regions to allow people to live and work where they choose, not because they have to. And that just helps our economy because if you can work closer, that's great!"

  • Antonia Freybe-Smith, Jets Overhead singer, Victoria

    <strong>"... relax the rule about campfires on beaches a little bit." </strong> "I think we could all use a few more beachfire sing-a-longs in our lives!"

  • Ian Hanomansing, CBC Journalist, Vancouver

    <strong>"... do whatever is necessary to make sure next time the Canucks are in the Stanley Cup final, the series doesn't go seven games."</strong>

  • Kaeli Robinsong, TacoFino co-owner, Tofino

    <strong>"... (have) no pipelines."</strong> "I would like to see a ban of any future prospect of an oil pipeline coming through B.C. from Alberta to the coast."

  • Nardwuar The Human Serviette, Celebrity interviewer/Musician, Vancouver

    <strong>"... share my favourite radio station with everyone."</strong> "I would make my favourite radio station in the world, UBC's <a href="http://www.citr.ca" target="_hplink">CiTR 101.9</a> mandatory listening for all British Columbians! Doot doola doot doo ... doot doo!"

  • Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu, Community Kollel, Vancouver

    <strong>"... focus on educating the next generation with an emphasis on moral and ethical values and by inspiring them to live a life of meaning and purpose."</strong> <a href="http://thekollel.com/" target="_hplink">Ohel Ya'Akov Community Kollel</a>

  • Richard Hunt, CEO of Penticton Whole Foods Market, Penticton

    <strong>"... how much better can it get?" </strong> "I sincerely believe that Canada is the best country in the world to live in and B.C. is the best province in the country. I can't point to a single thing that would make the whole province a whole lot better." <a href="http://wfm.ca/" target="_hplink">Penticton Whole Foods Market</a>