Greater Vancouver has significant opportunity for improvement when it comes to the ability to successfully compete for human capital. Scorecard 2016 highlighted the need for Greater Vancouver to more effectively attract, develop, and retain a well-educated and diverse workforce. As it stands, our region earns only a "C" grade for the proportion of the population age 25 or over with a bachelor's degree or higher, and a "D" for proportion of population 25-34 years. Our overall lack of affordability reduces the region's ability to attract and retain talent, particularly when it comes to younger demographics. In turn, decreased access to skilled human capital has the potential to deter businesses from locating or growing in the Greater Vancouver region.


Where they stand

Housing Affordability [Update: April 17]

  •  In the BC Green Party's "Affordable Housing Strategy" they propose changes to the property transfer tax that includes a tax on speculation as well as a doubling and expansion of the foreign buyer's tax to cover the entire province.
  • They have also committed to policies to increase the supply of affordable housing. These include a $750 million per year investment to create 4,000 new units every year; "a comprehensive" rethink of zoning" with the goals of densification, especially around transit corridors; working with First Nations, non-profits, cooperatives and the private sector to support the creation of low income rental units; as well as the introduction of incentives to create rental housing. 
  • The BC Greens will revise the Residential Tenancy Act to control rent increases and protect tenants from tenure termination.

Affordable Childcare

  • The BC Green Party has announced their childcare and early childhood education plan which calls for free early childhood education for 3 and 4-year olds, free daycare for children up to age 2 with working parents, and up to $500/month for families with a stay-at-home parent and a child up to age 2.
  • The childcare/ECD plan will be phased in over 4 years and initially focus on publicly operated spaces. The BC Green Party Platform estimates that it will cost $4.239 billion over 4 years. Starting at $495 million in 2017/18 then increase to $1.0 billion in 18/19, $1.364 billion in 19/20, and finally $1.38 billion in 2020/21.

Mental Health & Addiction

  • Party leader Dr. Andrew Weaver has expressed his support for a national debate concerning drug legalization, including heroin. He believes that legalization cannot happen in isolation and must be done in conjunction with increased coordination between all levels of government, education, and access to treatment.

Our Analysis [Update: April 17]

In our Member surveys, housing affordability continues to be one of the top issue facing the Greater Vancouver business community. In the housing plank of their platform, the BC Greens have taken both a supply and demand side approach to creating a more affordable housing market. We welcome their focus on zoning density, the creation of affordable rental units, and "missing middle" housing supply. However, the success of their strategy depends on the specifics of their policies. While we agree with the goals, it is unclear what a "rethink" of zoning will specifically entail or what incentives they would enact to create affordable rental units. Their focus on rental units is very important, especially for those 25-34 years old, but some thought should also be given to making supply which makes homeownership more feasible for residents of our region. Housing affordability is also very different across our province and their strategy has no mention of how it will be implemented in varying markets.

With their support for a free public option, the BC Greens have laid out one of the most ambitious childcare strategies so far this election. The platform states they would pay for this program by consolidating fragmented support for childcare and by "using a combination of existing federal and provincial program funding, plus new funding." However, their plan remains vague on these existing funding sources and what new funding source they would introduce. Furthermore, the 4-year phase in is dependent on how quickly childcare spaces can be created. The creation of spaces is currently a major barrier to affordable childcare in our province, and without a clear plan to develop enough spaces to implement a public option and train the necessary workforce such an ambitious plan will be difficult to bring to fruition, let alone pay for.

The BC Green Party is building upon harm reductions drug policies that exist in greater Vancouver, and calling for an important dialogue regarding education and access to treatment. While these are important long-term discussions, their plan is light on how to address the realities of the fentanyl crises that exist in the here-and-now

Housing Affordability

  • To alleviate upward pressure on the housing market, this past year saw the BC Liberal Government introduce an additional 15% property transfer tax on foreign nationals, corporations and trusts that buy residential real estate in the Lower Mainland. This tax has since been revised, and now exempts those with work permits and who pay taxes in B.C.  
  • The Province has also introduced a provincially backed loan program to help first-time buyers to save for a down payment. The program offers up to 37,500 or 5% of the home's purchase price.
  •  In the 2017 Throne Speech it was stated that the government "will continue to work with municipalities to encourage greater supply of housing, including building more units, and creating smarter, greener communities, connected by transit"

Affordable Childcare

  • The BC Liberals have pledged to increase investment in childcare by 352.5 million, creating 5,000 new places in 2017 with a goal to have up to 13,000 additional spaces by 2020. 113,000 spots currently exist in the province; meaning their policy would this would be an 11.5% increase in the total number of childcare spots.

Mental Health & Addiction

Our Analysis

The government's foreign property transfer tax has been acknowledged as an important first step in helping cool the real estate market in our region, however its abrupt roll-out only amplified the issues created with such market intervention. The accelerated period (5-days) between announcement and implementation caused significant disruption and uncertainty for reputable real estate deals already nearing completion. While it is important to ensure people have access to the housing market, the new provincially backed loan program could exacerbate the current issues in the housing market. By driving up demand in a market with stagnant supply this policy will only drive up prices, and be detrimental to our regions ability to attract and retain the workers our economy needs to grow. While the BC Liberal Government in the 2017 Throne Speech discussed working with municipalities it increase supply, details of how this will do this have yet to be released. We would like to see a greater focus on working with municipalities to grow housing supply in our province, especially "missing middle" housing which better accommodates the needs of our region.

In their 2017 Platform, the BC Liberals continue with their strategy of focusing on the supply of childcare in the province. This is an important approach; however, the province also requires a strategy that makes childcare more accessible and affordable for parents. B.C. faces some of the highest childcare costs in the country and increased supply can only bring these down if they outpace growth in demand. A holistic approach to childcare should include removing barriers to and incentivizing private sector participation and an exploration of better alignment between school and work hours, including afterschool programs. To properly garner the human capital benefits of such a policy, attention should be paid to both supply and accessibility.

The current government has been at the frontlines of fighting the fentanyl crises which claimed 914 lives in B.C. in 2016. The 2017/18 budget and the recent deal with the federal government saw a significant increase in funding for addiction and mental health services. However, there was a recent dip in the number of treatment beds for youth, despite the crises. The BC Liberal Government has kept an open mind in trying to find the best policy solutions, including prescription heroin.  While the crises does not appear to be subsiding the government is taking steps to introduce necessary supports.

Housing Affordability [Update: April 17]

  • In their recently released platform, the BC NDP has proposed a "10-year Action Plan for Housing Affordability." This plan has three main parts creating supply, affordable rental housing, and taxing speculators.
  • The NDP commits to creating 114,000 units of rental, non profit, co-op, and owner-purchase housing units over ten years. They have also committed to building near transit hubs in urban and suburban areas.
  • Their housing platform focuses on regulatory changes to the rental housing market which includes a $400 refundable renter's rebate per rental household each year, tightening enforcement of rent controls, provide local governments the "tools" to rezone areas for rental housing, and tax short-stay home rentals.
  • The BC NDP has reaffirmed their commitment to the Housing Affordability Fund and Speculator Fee Act that would collect an additional 2% foreign buyers tax on the assessed value of all B.C. homes purchased by a person who did not pay income taxes in B.C. The money would go into a "Housing Affordability Fund" which will provide funding for affordability initiatives. It is important to note that this tax is retroactive and would apply when the tax is introduced, regardless of how long the home has been owned.
  • Their other proposed piece of housing legislation, the Property Transfer Tax Fairness Act aims to make it more difficult to use trusts and other vehicles to disguise home ownership and avoid the current property transfer tax structure.  
  • The party has also expressed their commitment to invest in co-op housing, especially as federal subsidies begin to expire. They have also identified rent increased on fixed-term leases and access to rental housing as important barriers to housing affordability.

Affordable Childcare [Update: April 17]

  • The BC NDP has announced their commitment to a public system for $10-a-day child-care and specifically endorses the "$10aday" plan put forward by The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC. This plan includes $7 dollar a day part-time care and no fee for families making less than $40,000 a year. This program will initially cover children two years of age and under, then expand to cover other pre-kindergarten children and be rolled out over 10 years.
  • Their proposed system will invite existing childcare services into the public system and make investments in training the necessary workforce to implement a public system. Early care facilities would require an average wage of $25 an hour plus 20 per cent benefits.

Mental Health & Addiction [Update: April 17]

  • The NDP has committed to bringing mental health and addition into one ministry under- Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. They have committed to creating a long term plan that focuses on prevention as well as early intervention and support.
  • To address the over-dose crises, the NDP has committed to establishing a province-wide strategy that increases the availability to naloxone kits, supports police officers to combat drug rings, raises penalties for drug dealers, and works with First Nations leaders to address the crises in their communities.
  • This past March, NDP MLA Shane Simpson introduced legislation that would automatically deem PTSD suffered by first responders to be associated with their occupation and streamlines the acceptance of their claim with WorkSafeBC.  

Our Analysis [Update: April 17]

The BC NDP's approach to the housing crises focuses on market speculation, support for alternative housing tenures such as co-ops and rentals, and the creation of supply. The latter two are very welcome as Greater Vancouver is in significant needs for more diversity in housing stock to fit the varying needs of people in our region. Their proposal to place funding from the foreign buyer's tax into a housing affordability fund is very much aligned with the recommendations in our platform, however the retroactive nature of such a tax could cause significant market disruptions and penalize those who made reputable deals in the past. Their housing plan focuses on working with local governments to create diverse housing type and tenure, which are key themes in our upcoming report on housing and the "missing middle", and we are pleased to see attention given to a broad range of housing solutions including those suited for middle income earners.

The NDP platform has taken an approach which rightly views mental health and addiction services as closely linked. Their plan makes a commitment to early, preventative, and accessible care but does not propose any policies aimed at achieving these goals. They also discuss a province-wide strategy to deal with the overdose crises, but again do not offer details.

It has been shown that access to affordable childcare can be an economic benefit, especially in provinces such as British Columbia with some of the highest childcare costs in the country.  The BC NDP has endorsed, and integrated into their platform, a specific plan to create a $10-a-day publicly delivered childcare system in the province. While not stated in their platform document, their plan is estimated to cost over $1.5 billion annually, and this does not appear to include the necessary investments in workforce training. The current costing in the platform documents puts the price at $265 million in 2018/19 and then $400 million in 2019/18, with no indication of the budgetary implications of their plan once it is fully implemented. As this is central to their platform, we expected a transparent, comprehensive, and straight forward costing of this cornerstone initiative. Expanded childcare access and capacity should be done in a way that is not too burdensome to the tax system. As the Business Council of BC has suggested, it is important to analyze a mix of approaches which includes better alignment of school and work hours, collaborating with employers to provide on-site daycare facilities, and expanding leasing options for daycare facilities. The NDP platform states that existing services will be invited into the new system, with no details on what their role will be.

Special Note [Update: April 26]

It has been brought to our attention that on a number of occasions candidates for the BC NDP have publicly suggested that the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade “supports” or has “endorsed” their $10 a day childcare proposal. This is incorrect, and we have repeatedly, and directly, brought this to the NDP’s attention. As published in our 2017 Election Platform in January, the Board’s desire of the three parties was for them to commit to “…work with the Federal Government to explore the human capital benefits of increasing access to affordable child care.”

Given we have put in the position of needing to clarify this matter, we draw to your attention our specific concerns on the NDP’s childcare proposal. 


  • While expenditures of $265 million (2018/19) and $400 million (2019/20) are contemplated in the NDP platform, their plan fails to identify, nor cost, the minimum annual estimate of $1.5 billion that it would take to fully implement their plan, nor the resulting impact on annual deficits as the policy is implemented every year going forward.
  • In addition, their plan also does not appear to include the necessary and considerable investments in workforce training required to realize their vision.
  • The way in which child care is implemented is also a crucial element to any child care plan.  There are no details in the NDP plan as to, for example, what the role of school/work hours alignment might be, employer collaboration (re: on-site child care facilities), expanded leasing options for private child care providers, etc.  These considerations can materially impact the cost to the taxpayer, and the lack of mention of them leaves the total bill to taxpayers undeterminable.
  • It is important to note that the Board has endorsed the meaningful expansion of child care for years, but we have also specifically stated that it must be done in a way that is not too burdensome to the tax system. The NDP plan fails this test by its omission of material information.

We can not endorse the BC NDP’s plan in the incomplete way it has been articulated in their platform.  We also can not allow our brand to be misrepresented in this manner, and thus appreciate the opportunity to reiterate our stance on the matter.