B.C. household debt worst in country

January 31, 2016

CRUNCHED: B.C. has the highest consumer debt in Canada, at $58,621 per capita.CRUNCHED: B.C. has the highest consumer debt in Canada, at $58,621 per capita.

Stagnant wages, astronomical housing costs, and constant nickel-and-diming by Premier Christy Clark has pushed British Columbians into the worst household debt in the nation.

In their annual BC Check-Up, released in September, the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) say consumer debt in B.C. stands at $58,621 per capita, a whopping $10,000 higher than the national average of $49,624, and is still rising.

Despite clear signals that parents, students and workers are borrowing just to cover their basic daily costs, Premier Clark continues to reach into their wallets for more. She’s hiked up MSP and ICBC premiums, bridge tolls, ferry fares and hydro rates. Everywhere from campsites to classrooms, British Columbians are paying more out of pocket, and borrowing to make ends meet. Premier Clark has abandoned struggling B.C. families.

Young families tells us with every step forward they seem to be pulled back. They’re working and studying hard, but with increases to fares, rates and fees on top of student loans, it’s hard to get ahead. At the same time, parents worry that young British Columbians are the first generation that will be worse off economically than their parents.

While B.C. families are paying more for everything, and wages aren’t keeping up, Christy Clark chose to give a $230 million tax break to B.C.’s top 2 percent of income earners last year. Hard working British Columbians deserve much better.

Read the CPABC’s annual BC Check-Up report at http://bit.ly/1VbWjlr.

Innovative UBC proposal could make housing more affordable

An innovative proposal by two UBC Sauder School of Business professors could collect badly needed data about our housing market and provide funding to deal with the worsening affordability crisis in the Lower Mainland.

The plan provides a way for the government to collect data and generate money for affordable housing by taxing speculators and profiteers, while remaining invisible to British Columbians filing income tax, seniors living in long-time family homes, and landlords.

The B.C. Housing Affordability Fund was developed by Dr. Tom Davidoff and Dr. Tsur Somerville, professors of economics at the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business. They propose levying a 1.5 per cent tax on property in the lower mainland, deducted dollar for dollar from income tax paid, making it invisible to tax paying residents.

I hear on a daily basis how hard it is for people in Vancouver to find affordable housing, even something as simple as a family trying to find a two bedroom apartment to rent. My neighbours often share how discouraging it is that their adult children can’t afford to buy a home, and start their own families, in the neighbourhood they grew up in.

People are frustrated because they see their lives getting less and less affordable, while the government seems unwilling to collect data about what’s happening, let alone find ways to fund desperately needed affordable housing. This policy could fund rental housing construction without hurting families that are already overstretched and in debt.

My Official Opposition colleagues and I support this innovative kind of thinking to promote more affordable housing across the province; this is the kind of plan Premier Clark needs to consider. Read the plan at http://bit.ly/1KtoHdd.


Emergency preparedness resources

A recent earthquake in Vancouver is a reminder that we live in a high risk earthquake zone. Take the time to review our earthquake preparedness checklists, and make sure our earthquake kits are up to date. You should be prepared to cope without city services for 72 hours.

Register for a free Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Program workshop at http://bit.ly/1ZPnnhd.

More information:

City of Vancouver: http://bit.ly/1ZPvREU
Government of BC: http://bit.ly/1nB9X7j
Government of Canada: http://bit.ly/20hygoB
Vancouver Public Library reading list: http://bit.ly/1K06vwN
The Great BC Shake Out Earthquake Drill 2016: www.shakeoutbc.ca

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