BC Election 2017: Poverty and Housing

Watershed Sentinel Editorial Staff

BC Election 2017: Our comparison of the party platforms on poverty and housing

Affordable Housing & Homelessness


  • Increase housing supply by working with municipalities to speed up permitting and open new opportunities for housing
  • Expand the Home Renovation Tax Credit eligibility to those renovating their home to accommodate a secondary suite
  • Raise the threshold of the First Time Home Buyers’ Program exemption to $500,000
  • Invest $700 million in the BC HOME Partnership program to provide mortgage down payment assistance loans to an estimated 42,000 first-time home buyers over the next three years
  • Provide housing support to the close to 53,000 seniors’ households that receive assistance today
  • Develop new student housing financing rules that allow student housing to be built without impacting the provincial debt load or credit rating
  • [No mention of homelessness]


  • Fixing the Housing Shortage
    • Build 114,000 affordable rental, non profit, co-op and owner purchase housing units through partnerships over ten years. These homes will be a mix of housing for students, singles, seniors, and families and will range from supported social housing to market rental housing
    • In urban and suburban centers, build near transit hubs.
    • Use public land to build housing.
    • Change regulations to allow colleges and universities to build on and near-campus rental housing, and ensure student renters receive the renter’s rebate of $400 per year.
    • Wherever possible, construct all types of housing from innovative BC manufactured wood products
  • Making Renting Better and More Secure
    • Provide a refundable renter’s rebate of $400 dollars per rental household in BC each year
    • Close the BC Liberals’ “fixed term lease” loophole and ensure controls on rent increases are enforced
    • Pass legislation requiring fair treatment during renovations and demolitions of rental properties.
    • Tighten the rules that protect good landlords and tenants
    • Provide local governments the tools to zone areas for rental housing, and tax short-stay home rentals
    • With federal government funding for co-op housing expiring, we will reinvest in and support co-op housing.
  • Stopping the Cheaters
    • Require speculators to pay their fair share of tax on their empty houses through a yearly two per cent absentee speculators’ tax
    • Use the absentee speculators’ tax to support housing affordability initiatives
    • Establish a multi-agency task force to fight tax fraud and money laundering in the BC real estate marketplace
  • Broaden support for the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program
  • Taking action on homelessness
    • Partner with the federal government, local municipalities, agencies and community groups to create an immediate homelessness action plan, which includes a provincial poverty reduction plan
    • Ensure that initiatives in other areas such as mental health, social assistance, justice, safety, health, and more are tied into the action plan
    • Conduct a province-wide homeless count and reduce the homeless population through permanent housing and services as part of our action plan on housing


  • Act to cool the market for residential real estate
    • Work with the federal government to to eliminate money laundering and international property speculation from the BC residential real estate market
    • Discourage speculation by:
      • Enhancing the progressive nature of the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) with a sliding scale of rates from 0% on properties under $200,000 to 12% on properties over $3.0 million (see below)
      • Applying the PTT to the transfer of beneficial ownership
      • Introducing a “speculation” PTT to discourage flipping of property
      • Expanding the foreign buyers tax across the province, and increase the rate to 30% in addition to the PTT payable
      • Introducing measures to tax lifetime capital gains in excess of $750,000 on principal residences;
      •  Working with financial institutions and the federal government to develop protections for recent homebuyers who are negatively affected by market cooling initiatives
  • Begin to transition the home owner grant (HOG) starting in 2019, to be income based
  • Introduce a progressive property tax system that imposes a surtax based on the property value, and allows homeowners to credit rental income and their previous year’s BC income tax against the surtax
  • Increase the supply of affordable accommodation
    • Invest up to $750 million per year to support the construction of approximately 4000 new units of affordable housing per year
    • Work with governments to make land available for the construction of affordable housing
    • Develop and implement a provincial housing plan to address deficiencies in the supply of affordable rental accommodation based on priority needs
    • Lead a comprehensive rethink of zoning to ensure it is consistent with government objectives such as the provision of affordable housing
    • Protect existing social housing and reduce operating costs by investing $100 million per year in retrofits and renovations of older units
    • Partner with First Nations, non-profit developers, cooperatives, and the private sector to support the planning and construction of low income rental units
    • Introduce incentives for the construction of, and/or conversion of existing buildings for rental property
  • Protect tenants and landlords
    • Enhance the provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act to control rent increases, and to protect tenants from tenure termination
    • Work with BC Housing to enable the inclusion of private rental properties in their directly managed portfolio of affordable accommodation
  • Maintain and enhance housing support programs
    • Maintain or enhance existing housing support programs in the context of the suite of initiatives to address income insecurity
  • [Specific actions on homelessness not part of Green platform, but it gets a mention in the context of affordable housing: “There are some ripple effects to the availability of affordable housing; however, cooling the real estate market would not, in and of itself, solve the problem of homelessness,” and health: “We know that alleviating poverty and homelessness will also have a strong, positive impact on people’s health.”]

Living Wage & Affordability


  • Develop a Low Income Families in Transition (LIFT) pilot program that provides temporary assistance to low-income single working parents while upgrading or acquiring new skills
  • Create 5,000 new child care spaces in 2017, with a goal of up to 13,000 spaces by 2020
  • $3.1 billion in 2017 to help individuals and families in need
  • Increase the assistance rates for about 100,000 people with disabilities by $50/month
  •  Increase funding for community living services by $135 million over the next three years
  • Consult with families to develop long-term care plans for Community Living BC clients with aging parents
  • Work to become the province with the most generous child benefit exemptions for the calculation of income and disability assistance
  • Increase the net income threshold for low-income individuals to $19,749 to qualify for the BC Tax Reduction Credit
  • Increase in the value of the tax credit for charitable donations to a maximum value of $500 on the first $1,100 of donations
  • Create a Minister responsible for accessibility to make B.C. the most accessible jurisdiction for disabled people in North America
  • Phase out MSP, starting with 50% reduction in premiums those with net income of up to $120,000 per year


  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, then tie it to inflation
  • Get rid of Medical Services Plan fees
  • Bring in $10 a day childcare
  • Eliminate interest on student loans and provide students a $1,000 completion grant
  • Freeze BC Hydro rates and stop Christy Clark’s 42% increase in ICBC rates
  • Roll back ferry fares on small routes by 15%, freeze fares on major routes, and return the 100% seniors’ weekday discount
  • Reduce the cost of prescription drugs
  • Create a new climate action rebate cheque for 80 per cent of families
  • Immediately raise all income assistance and disability rates by $100 per month
  • Support assistance recipients as they re-enter the workforce by allowing them to keep an additional $200 a month in earnings exemptions
  • Restoring the BC Bus Pass program for people with disabilities
  • Develop a poverty reduction strategy


  • Implement needs-based grants for post secondary students
  • Offer tax forgiveness for up to five years to assist qualifying graduates to repay outstanding debt incurred for tuition fees
  • Set up a task force on postsecondary education funding with a mandate to identify ways to make postsecondary education more relevant, accessible and affordable
  • Initiate the transition to livable incomes with an increase in Persons with Disabilities rates by 10% effective October 1, 2017, rising to 50% above the current level on April 1, 2020
  • Existing assistance programs will be reviewed to ensure that they are efficient, effective and fair; and, that financial disincentives to work are avoided
  • Introduce a basic income support for youth aged 18 to 24, who are transitioning out of foster care.
  • Test whether giving people a basic income is an effective way to reduce poverty, improve health, housing and employment
  • Establish an at-arm’s-length Fair Wages Commission that will be tasked with establishing a new minimum wage and overseeing regular rate reviews by November 30, 2017. The new minimum wage will become effective January 1, 2018
  • ECE Funding will rise from $495 million in 2017/18 to $1.38 billion in 2020/21. The initial focus will be on expanding spaces for early childhood education and care, Up to 25 hours free ECE per week for three- and four-year-olds;  Free daycare for working parents with children under age three; Up to $500 per month for families with children under age three and a stay-at-home parent.
  • Work with the federal government to provide a Low-Income Benefit of up to $205 per month for low income families
  • Roll MSP payments into the payroll tax and personal income tax

View and download the entire three-part document here:

BC Election 2017 Platform Comparison – Environment

BC Election 2017 Platform Comparison: Social Justice

Green Jobs-Just Transition

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