B.C. housing minister defends affordability promises in wake of 4.5% rent increase approval

The province recently approved an allowable rent increase of 4.5 per cent for 2019, the largest increase since 2004.

Selina Robinson says allowable increase will be part of the Rental Housing Task Force’s upcoming review

The allowable rent increase means someone paying $1,200 a month could, over the course of the year, pay almost $650 extra for their housing starting next year. (CP)

The B.C. NDP's Rental Housing Task Force says it's reviewing the formula used to determine allowable rent increases, after panic from tenants over the possibility of paying significantly more for housing next year.

The province recently approved an allowable rent increase of 4.5 per cent for 2019, the largest increase since 2004.

It would mean someone living in a one-bedroom apartment paying $1200 a month could, over the course of the year, pay almost $650 extra in rent.

B.C.'s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson talked to Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, about how her government plans to keep its promise to make life more affordable for British Columbians.

How does this rent increase square with your platform to make life more affordable for British Columbians?

When we formed government 14 months ago, we made a commitment to address affordability and we put forward a 30-point plan that we've been implementing over the last number of months.

'This housing crisis did not appear overnight and we’re not going to be able to fix it overnight,' says Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson. (Selina Robinson)

What about young people, students, working people who are facing a rent increase that's far going to outpace any increase in wages they make?

We know that this is hard for many in our communities so we've put together the Rental Housing Task Force to go out and identify what are some of the priority areas that we need to focus on next.

We've asked that the issue of the annual rent increase and rent control is part of that review.

Where is the renters rebate of $400 a year that Premier John Horgan promised in April of last year?

We've always said that we are committed to bringing in the renters' rebate and that hasn't changed.

Our plan is to bring the renters' rebate in over the life of our government and, with that goal in mind, we're going to continue to work on the details of the rebate itself.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area is $1,223, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Municipalities are on the front lines of the housing affordability crisis. Does it really help to make life more affordable in British Columbia to promise to cut MSP premiums and then shift the burden of paying for that promise to municipalities?

Everyone knows that the MSP was a regressive tax and we need to find a different way of making sure that we are delivering the kinds of services that people need and helping to keep more money in their pockets.

Maybe they can use that money to pay for their 4.5 per cent rent increase next year.

Well, this is the work that we're continuing to do. We've taken significant steps.

We know there is more to do. This crisis did not appear overnight.

We had a previous government who didn't care. We've started the work and we're going to continue the work.

This interview aired on The Early Edition on Sept.13 and has been edited for clarity, length and structure. To hear the complete interview, click on the audio below:

The B.C. NDP's Rental Housing Task Force says it's reviewing the formula used to determine allowable rent increases, after panic from renters over the possibility of paying higher rents next year. 11:10

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