B.C. Premier John Horgan elaborates on the NDP’s Throne Speech in the legislature on Tuesday. (Kristyn Anthony photo)

Throne Speech leaves B.C. housing, childcare advocates awaiting details

Cutting housing speculation, adding childcare spaces were the highlights in NDP speech

Advocates for affordable childcare and housing are pinning their hopes on the NDP’s provincial budget next week, after hearing Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne.

“They’re going to make a difference this year for families in their affordability issues,” said Sharon Gregson, the spokesperson for the group pushing for $10-a-day childcare.

“They’re looking at moving unlicensed to licensed, creating more spaces, investing in the work force and … a new registry or way to identify problem unregulated caregivers.”

That same day, the federal government quietly promised $153 million for childcare in B.C. over three years, contingent on the province finding ways to address “quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system.” The funding will roll out in approximately equal thirds, starting with the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Speaking with reporters later on, Premier John Horgan acknowledged the speech did not mention the $10-a-day figure.

“It’s important to remember that the $10-a-day slogan was to brand the childcare plan,” said Horgan.

“The first three years of the ramp-up period, we’re looking at toddler and infant care. We’re creating more spaces and we’re training more people. Those elements will be in the budget.”

The $10 policy has been a source of friction between the NDP and the BC Greens. Green Leader Andrew Weaver said Tuesday afternoon he was happy that the government was moving away from slogan-based police to measurable steps.

However, newly-elected BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson said $150 million over three years is a “very minimal commitment” from Ottawa.

Increasing supply, decreasing ‘out of province’ demand

The speech also called B.C.’s escalating housing costs “the single greatest challenge to affordability in British Columbia.”

Generation Squeeze founder and UBC professor Paul Kershaw said the recommendations were vague, but he was buoyed by the vow to address “harmful demand” and increase supply.

READ: Lack of budget help for young B.C. renters ‘problematic’

He said he wanted to see the specifics of how the government would push people treating housing “as a commodity” out of the market.

The NDP campaigned heavily on an annual $400 rebate for renters, with details expected during the Feb. 20 budget.

Kershaw also praised the speech’s pledge to work with municipalities to create rental-only zoning, considering that high-priced housing keeping people renting for longer.


@katslepian

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