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Throne Speech focuses on housing

Last Updated Feb 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm PDT

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Summary

NDP aiming to make life more affordable in BC

Province also planning to crack down on tax fraud, evasion, and money laundering in the real estate

Green, Liberal leaders weigh in

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The NDP government is committing to do more to make housing and child care more affordable as it shares its throne speech ahead of next week’s provincial budget.

The province is promising to make the largest-ever investments in housing and child care all in an aim to make life in BC more affordable.

“Many cannot pay the bills without going further into debt,” says Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, who read today’s Throne Speech on behalf of the NDP.

The NDP promised to convert unlicensed child care spaces into licensed facilities, allowing parents to take advantage of government support, however there was no mention of the $10-a-day child care promise made during the 2017 election.

There will also be efforts made to address the demand for housing and to stabilize the real estate and rental markets, and also ensure those making big cash in real estate contribute more to creating housing solutions for those struggling.

Premier John Horgan says changes to improve a current lack of rental housing options are on the way. Horgan says money coming from outside the province is hurting BC’s economy.

“We need to bring on rental housing, we need to have market-built housing,” he said. “We need to make sure the development community [has incentive] to build the type of housing that British Columbians want to move into. One bedroom apartments are not doing it for families of two and three and four. We need to find ways to bring on housing people need, and in a price range that they can afford.”

 

The government is also pledging to crack down on tax fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering within the real estate market. More intricate details will be released in next week’s budget.

Other parties respond

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver says he’s encouraged by the Speech from the Throne, saying his and his party’s shared values are well represented.

“I am glad to hear the government acknowledge that the first step to solving the housing crisis must be to address demand and speculation, both foreign and domestic. What’s critical is that these measures are bold enough to make a difference for British Columbians. Our caucus has long maintained that taking strong demand-side action is critical to improving housing affordability,” he says.

“Houses should be for homes for people to live in, not commodities for speculation. I hope to see significant demand-side action in the budget next week.”

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says the Throne Speech lacks specifics, and he’s fearful there will be unwelcome surprises in next weeks budget.

“We are now concerned that they’re actually saving their lead surprises for their budget, where they are likely to increase taxes,” says Wilkinson.

“We’ve seen that already–they’ve increased corporate taxes, they’ve increased some income taxes, they’ve told us that the carbon tax is no longer revenue neutral. So, we can expect that what we heard to day will be a polite way of saying they’re going to increase taxes to pay for their favourite topics which don’t make any difference to those daily lives of British Columians. They will in fact pad the pockets of the people who support them at the expense of the public.”

He also expects the NDP plan for child care is “totally dependent” on federal money.

There’s a large concern from Wilkinson that BC won’t get that federal funding while the province is tangled in an inter-provincial fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, saying the multi-billion dollar expansion is fundamental to Canada’s interests.

“The Ottawa-based federal government will close up like a clam shell and refuse to talk to them,” he says, adding it’s time Horgan get on a plane to Edmonton to make amends with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.