British Columbia

Promised $400 renters rebate unlikely in next week's B.C. budget

One of the NDP's big election promises doesn't look like it will make it into next week's budget.

'We can't do it all in one fell swoop', says housing minister, who promises other action for renters

A volunteer with the Vancouver Tenants' Union at the group's first meeting in April 2017. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

One of the NDP's big committments in last year's provincial election doesn't look like it will be realized anytime soon.

"We will provide a refundable renter's rebate of $400 dollars per rental household in B.C. each year," read the party's platform, the third promise listed on its first page of key policies

But a day after the government's second throne speech came and went without a mention of that rebate, Housing Minister Selina Robinson all but confirmed it would not be coming forward in next week's budget.

"We're committed to taking a look at our renter programs right now and making sure they meet people's needs ... we're really focusing on existing programs and making sure they're more robust," she said.

"We can't do it all in one fell swoop. The old government had 16 years, and we haven't even had a year." 

The line was repeated by Finance Minister Carole James.

"We're not going to be able to fix everything overnight," she said. 

"After 16 years, I think it's pretty tough for [the B.C. Liberals] to say we should be doing more on housing."

Greens opposed

The throne speech, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon on Tuesday, did hint at other measures for renters in the budget.

"Government will introduce stronger protections for renters and owners of manufactured homes and protections for renters facing eviction due to renovation or demolition," it read. 

"Government will continue to support low-income renters by enhancing Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters grants and rental assistance program grants for families to address the gaps that have grown between these vital supports and the true costs of housing."

The rebate was opposed by Andrew Weaver during the election. Now, holding the balance of power in the legislature, he didn't explicitly deny that he had been lobbying the government not to move forward with the promise.

"We have discussions all the way through," he said.

"We've always said we'll push for good public policy ... a $400 renter rebate, these are slogans that have not gone through the rigorous process that is needed to ensure you're dealing with the problem you're trying to solve.

"We're very pleased with the direction we saw in the throne speech." 

About the Author

Justin McElroy

@j_mcelroy

Justin is the Municipal Affairs Reporter for CBC Vancouver, covering local political stories throughout British Columbia.

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