We’re thrilled to celebrate a 2018 B.C. budget that takes an aggressive new approach to housing, and the beginnings of universal child care in B.C.
These are big wins! Congratulations to everyone who donated their time, money, and energy, whether through Gen Squeeze, other organizations, or individually.
We’ve been pushing for affordable, accessible, quality child care since our inception, and for housing reform since co-hosting the #DontHave1Million rally in Vancouver and launching our #CodeRed campaign in 2016.
Sure, there’s plenty of room for improvement in B.C.’s latest budget, but it’s a fresh, welcome start to tackling an affordability crisis that’s been squeezing younger residents for far too long.
On child care:
The budget delivers on nearly everything we were looking for in the first years of $10aDay plan implementation:
- A quarter billion of new annual money for child care that will grow to half a billion dollars of new annual investment starting in year three
- Eventually, the child care budget needs to grow by $1.5 billion, and the province seems on track to achieve that by year eight
While the budget proposes new investments in postsecondary training for child care providers, it’s short on details about the plan to raise wages for early childhood educators to be on par with school teachers. Read our full analysis, or read the government backgrounder.
B.C.’s new government is taking a relatively aggressive new approach to improve housing affordability. Its 30-point strategy directly responds to our longstanding call to put Homes First (investments second) by beginning with this acknowledgement:
"People, including many non-resident investors, are speculating in B.C.'s housing market, using our housing stock as an investment vehicle that drives up prices and removes rental stock. We are taking immediate action to crack down on speculators who distort our market."
Overall, the new strategy responds to our calls to restrict harmful demand, increase the right kind of supply, and tax housing wealth more fairly. Specifically:
- It raises the one-time Foreign Buyers Tax to 20 per cent and expands it to Greater Victoria, the Fraser Valley, the Central Okanagan, and the Nanaimo area (we’ve been calling for this)
It introduces a new annual tax on vacant properties to restrict harmful demand from global and domestic speculators, though the government is currently working to mitigate some unintended consequences of this approach
It increases school taxes and property transfer taxes on homes worth more than $3 million
- It promises substantial investments to increase the supply of affordable housing
The back story
In 2017 British Columbians voted for a change in government largely in response to the escalating housing and affordability crisis. For many, life has become devastatingly unaffordable, with B.C. having the worst performing economy in Canada for younger residents. Leading up to February 20, everyone was waiting with bated breath to see what this new government would do differently.
After delivering more than 2,000 signatures and 200 letters of support to B.C.'s new housing minister back in September, the new provincial government got down to business with a Throne Speech that reflected our policy principle of Homes First — a success in itself!
But when it came to details, the September budget update was essentially a ‘wait-for-February’ memo, so we had to keep the pressure up and the conversation going.
Later that month we rallied our network to help 189 B.C. municipalities pass three UBCM resolutions taking a firm stance on housing distortions.
In November, we brought together housing sector leaders, local elected officials, and residents to discuss the impact of global capital/foreign investment in B.C. real estate, with a special focus on Greater Victoria where some local politicians had been resisting the 15 per cent foreign buyers tax.
These actions occurred in tandem with continuing discussions between Gen Squeeze, B.C. ministers, and MLAs in lead up to the February budget.
Where’s the Beef?! Livestream:
Want to dig into the B.C. budget even further?! Watch our live discussion event from February 20: B.C. Budget 2018: Where’s the Beef?
With the 2018 budget, B.C.’s government is taking bold steps to build a system of universal child care and to tackle housing costs that have risen out of control, but the work here is far from over.
We need to ensure their child care plan is efficiently rolled out and properly funded
- We need to help the government work out some kinks in their new annual housing surtax so it truly targets speculators
We need to encourage the government to do even more to help recouple housing costs with local incomes
We want to restore housing affordability for renters and owners — forever.
You can help by becoming a Gen Squeeze Member: