Housing affordability and poverty reduction are two of the key issues facing Vancouver-Mount Pleasant candidates vying for a seat in the B.C. legislature.
The byelection will be held on Feb. 2 and was called when MLA Jenny Kwan left her post to run as the New Democratic Party federal candidate in Vancouver East.
Three of the candidates running for the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant seat spoke with CBC Radio's The Early Edition about where they stand on housing affordability and poverty reduction.
Melanie Mark, B.C. NDP: "We know that housing co-operatives in the riding benefit families, but when we look at things like affordability for people with mental health and addictions issues, we need to ensure that they have support. And seniors of course need to have the support that they need for their family so they can stay in their homes."
Gavin Dew, B.C. Liberal Party: "We're moving into much more of a data-driven conversation where we're starting to really analyze what's happening and get down to data-driven, smart solutions that try to address the specific issues versus just broad ideological conversations [...] In terms of government action, I expect that we'll see more action coming around first-time home buyers in the upcoming budget."
Pete Fry, B.C. Green Party: "Three-quarters of the riding are renters. One of the things that we are looking at is the idea of a renters tax credit, which of course is what they do in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. They're starting to roll it across the United States. It allows you to declare your rent on your income tax. Fundamentally, property transfer taxes generated $1.4 billion that went into general revenue. There's clearly a disconnect that doesn't see that money actually diverted into new housing, because we need to start building housing.
Mark: "We need to increase the rates for those that are on income assistance. We need to secure the subsidy for people in co-ops [...] But the bottom line is there are models of delivery like co-op housing that benefit families, that support families, and we need to secure that subsidy that is at risk of being lost in 2020."
Dew: "As an MLA in the legislature I would certainly be pushing for us to continue to do more on that front. But for me, the goal would be that we should have as many people as possible into work, getting jobs, and living full lives, and when there are folks who are the most vulnerable who do have disabilities or other issues ... we absolutely need to make sure we strengthen our strong social safety net. But to strengthen our social safety net, that comes as a dividend from a strong economy."
Fry: "We need to be building more public housing. We're actually divesting in public housing right now through the asset transfer program [...] once we sell off public land and public housing we can't afford to buy that back, so we need to have a much more assertive building of public housing immediately. The fact that people are living in sub-standard housing, in privately run SROs is a failure of government, it's a failure of policy."
An all-candidates meeting — including Mark, Dew, Fry and YPP's Jeremy Gustafson and Libertarian Bonnie Boya Hu — will be held at the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House from 7 to 9 p.m. PT.