"There is no solution to the housing affordability crisis that doesn't include rental affordability so we are very pleased with the government's decision to cap the maximum allowable rental increase." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (28 Sept. 2018) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is encouraged by the government's decision to lower annual rent increases by capping them to inflation. This was one of the recommendations outlined earlier this week by the B.C. Rental Housing Task Force.
B.C. government puts people first in rent cap
"There is no solution to the housing affordability crisis that doesn't include rental affordability, so we are very pleased with the government's decision to cap the maximum allowable rental increase," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "This decision is another example of the NDP government putting people first. It's a great first step."
The announcement is evidence the government is upholding their election promise to make life more affordable for British Columbians and is taking concrete action towards this goal.
Unions on the frontline fighting for affordable housing
The BCGEU/NUPGE has taken the lead in finding solutions to the housing affordability crisis. In the fall of 2017, the BCGEU/NUPGE, in collaboration with CUPE 1767, launched the Affordable BC campaign. The unions have since laid out detailed provincial and municipal analysis and policy proposals to solve the housing affordability crisis. One of those recommendations was to change the maximum allowable rent increase formula.
The BCGEU/NUPGE launched a petition earlier this month calling on the B.C. Government to stop the 4.5 per cent rent increase. It has gained close to 5,500 petition signatures and has acted as one of the many outlets people across B.C. used to voice their opposition to the rent hike.
The 4.5 per cent allowable rent increase was calculated under a formula made under the previous B.C. Liberal government, which set rent hikes at 2 per cent above inflation. This policy allowed rents to increase much faster than inflation or wages, making it hard for British Columbians to find affordable rental housing.
BCGEU/NUPGE to continue fighting for housing reform
Now that rents have been capped to inflation, the BCGEU/NUPGE will continue working to get other housing policies implemented.
"This is a great move in response to the overwhelming public need for action on the affordable housing crisis." said Paul Finch, BCGEU treasurer. "Contrary to claims made by Landlord BC, rent has rapidly inflated over the past decade, well above tax and maintenance costs. There is no legitimate argument to continue to raise rents amidst a crisis."
The BCGEU/NUPGE's affordability plan is detailed in the Affordable BC report, which can be found at www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan. The original report details actions the provincial government can take to improve affordability, and a more recent report was released that details actions local governments can take.
The BCGEU/NUPGE also entered a submission to the Rental Housing Task Force, which called for rents to be capped to inflation and for vacancy control, a form of rent control that ties rents to the units, instead of a particular lease.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE