Premier’s lack of leadership created housing affordability crisis

October 29, 2016

In the two years that Premier Clark spent denying the housing affordability crisis, the cost of a home rose by more than $600,000. The Opposition  caucus and the BC Chamber of Commerce first raised alarms about the distorting effect of offshore real estate speculators on our housing market back in June 2014, when the benchmark price of a home in Metro Vancouver was $976,700.

The benchmark price climbed past $1 million in 2015, and was moving sharply upward in May 2015, when Clark’s housing minister told people
that he thought prices were still ‘reasonable,’ and dismissed affordability concerns. One month later, as prices kept shooting up, Clark continued to deny that there was a problem for B.C. families trying to find an affordable home, and said publicly that people unable to afford a home in the Lower Mainland should think about moving to Fort St. John.

It wasn’t until July 2016, when the benchmark price had climbed to $1,578,300, that Clark finally admitted we were facing an affordability crisis and imposed a sudden foreign buyer tax. By the time Clark was willing to admit there was a problem, the benchmark price of a home in Metro  Vancouver had skyrocketed by over $600,000, pricing an entire generation of B.C. families out of their own housing market.

A recent survey found that two thirds of Metro Vancouver residents don’t think that they will ever be able to afford a home in Clark’s B.C. Clark deliberately chose to ignore an escalating housing problem for two whole years, until a full-on crisis forced her to act. The premier’s reluctant tax has done nothing to make housing more affordable for young families. Today, we’re in the middle of a perfect storm of unaffordability for B.C. families. If Clark had taken action at any point over the past two years, housing would be more affordable today, the real estate market would not be the unpredictable, volatile market it is today, and the dream of home ownership would be a lot closer for thousands of British Columbians.

Fentanyl crisis needs prompt action

Fentanyl overdoses are projected to claim a record number of lives in B.C. this year, but the government has failed to provide adequate, accessible pathways to treatment for people and families desperately seeking addiction services.

We’ve been watching this deadly spike in fentanyl use and fatal overdoses since 2013, yet addiction services and access to treatment beds have not kept pace with the crisis.

B.C. needs to do more, and we need to do it today. This drug has killed more than 400 people in our province already this year. Clark needs to tell people how she will meet her promise of 500 treatment beds as soon as possible.

The premier can take two immediate steps:

• Meet her 2013 election commitment to open 500 additional addiction treatment beds before 2017. B.C. has missed deadlines for the past three years, and over 60 per cent of the promised treatment spaces remain unopened.

• License ownership of pill presses and tablet machines. Similar legislation is already in effect in Alberta, and was proposed by my caucus colleagues in the legislature this spring.

When someone needs supports, they can’t be stuck on a wait list. They should not be forced to navigate the yawning gaps in B.C.’s treatment services. Addictions don’t wait.

Seniors workshop:
Avoiding Scams

I’m pleased to be hosting a workshop for seniors, in collaboration with the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO BC) Wednesday, November 2, 1 to 3 pm at the Hastings Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Learn how fraudsters take in people to rob them of their money and possessions. Seniors are frequent victims, and need to be aware of how to protect themselves. Workshop in English with Chinese interpretation available.

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