"The rising cost of housing is forcing many to leave their communities, while others are leaving the province altogether. We need to do something before our communities are hollowed out." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (22 Nov. 2017) — Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.
Affordable housing is a union issue
The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.
The report's recommendations include 3 broad goals:
- Reforming property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure
- Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions
- Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure
This report is part of a larger campaign by the BCGEU/NUPGE to tackle housing affordability in B.C. Two weeks ago, the union launched www.affordablebc.ca, which includes a petition calling on Premier John Horgan to implement these recommendations. The petition has over 1,800 signatures as of November 20.
Renting? Owning? Both out of reach for most British Columbians
"Every day more and more BCGEU/NUPGE members find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities," says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. "The rising cost of housing is forcing many to leave their communities, while others are leaving the province altogether. We need to do something before our communities are hollowed out."
B.C. has become the most expensive province to buy or rent a home in Canada. The average home price in B.C. is now close to $694,000. While the crisis is felt most acutely in B.C.'s largest cities, this crisis is affecting communities across the province.
Earlier this year, Vancouver was named North America's least affordable city, ranking above cities like San Francisco and boroughs like Manhattan. The median home in Vancouver now costs 17.3 times the median annual household income.
BCGEU/NUPGE call to action: stabilize housing prices, create more affordable rentals
At the BCGEU's 50th Constitutional Convention in June, members passed multiple resolutions calling for action on housing affordability, and this campaign was developed and launched as a result of that action.
"Wages can no longer keep up with the rising cost of living," says Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer. "No realistic wage increase can make up for the extra costs our members are paying in housing, which means that the most effective way for BCGEU/NUPGE members to protect their incomes — and those of all working people — is to work towards the stabilization of housing prices and creation of more affordable rental units."
The full report can be downloaded at www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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