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.
To ensure that businesses in our region are able to attract, develop, and retain talented workers, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade recommends that the next Provincial Government:
- Work with municipalities to remove barriers to development and find ways to incentivize growth, density, and diversity in the housing stock;
- Ensure that funds collected under the new foreign buyer tax are appropriately and transparently allocated to affordability initiatives;
- Explore the causes of low housing affordability in affected areas of our Province, with particular attention to its impact on human capital;
- Develop a robust plan to explore and address the challenges of attracting and retaining human capital within the Greater Vancouver region;
- Work with the Federal Government to explore the human capital benefits of increasing access to affordable child care; and
- Collaborate with the business community and mental health care NGOs to ensure that the public health-care system provides timely, quality, and accessible mental health care and addiction services.
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.
- 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.
- 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"
- 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
- This past February the BC Liberal Government recently announced $140 million over three years for mental health services. The money will fund 120 additional youth mental-health workers, 28 treatment beds for youth with substance-use disorders, and specialized new housing for people with mental health and addictions challenges.
- Through the combination of new health care commitments and a new deal with the federal government, B.C. has seen an additional $15 million for overdose prevention and over the next 10 years an additional $655 million to support mental health initiatives.
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.