Happy new school year neighbours!
For many families, especially in our community with UBC playing such a big role in Vancouver Point Grey life, September is the real start of the year.
We had a wonderful summer, and it was a pleasure to see so many of you at our neighbourhood festivals like Greek Days, Point Grey Fiesta and the Khatsahlano Music Festival, but now it’s back to regular scheduled programming for many of us, including BC’s legislature.
The legislature’s new session starting on October 1st, with many new initiatives underway including introduction of a new law to establish a Human Rights Commission for British Columbia, and a new law to facilitate the government’s class action lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid medications in our province to recover healthcare costs.
There’s a lot going on! Here’s some of what happened this summer to bring you up to speed as you return to your fall schedule.
New child care benefit – Your family needs to apply to benefit!
Vancouver was one of the most expensive cities for child care in the country, an issue that is mirrored across the province. That’s why our government introduced two new programs to bring costs down, one of which just launched in September and which requires families to apply to receive the benefit.
The first new provincial program launched in April 2018 resulting in UBC childcare parents, and parents across the province, seeing a reduction in fees starting in when their service provider opted in to participate. No application was needed for parents to see the benefit – their childcare provider simply had to opt in to the program.
The latest program, which requires families to apply, just launched in September. This benefit is available for families with pre-tax incomes below $111,000, with families under $45,000 (pre tax) receiving the maximum benefit. The benefit reduces as family income goes up, to the maximum of $111,000.
To learn whether your family qualifies and apply for the benefit, which for some families will cover as much as $1,250 in childcare costs, visit this website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/caring-for-young-children/child-care-funding/child-care-benefit
Class Action against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors
In late August I announced that the government of BC will be attempting to recover health care costs incurred by the province from opioid prescription medication manufacturers and distributors.
We are arguing in court that manufacturers downplayed risks and produced misleading information that led physicians to inappropriately prescribe these addictive medications, driving addiction rates, and public health expenditures, up.
We have filed our Notice of Claim, and if you’re interested, you can read the details in a PDF file at this link (the interesting parts start at paragraph 79): https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Notice_of_Civil_Claim.pdf
Referendum on Proportional Representation
The government of BC is holding a referendum for our province on the important issue of how we send our representatives to the legislature. Elections BC is providing neutral information on the ballot questions, the various systems, and how to vote.
There has been a great deal of interest in this mail-in ballot referendum already, because it’s British Columbians like you who will make the final decision about whether we keep our current electoral system or move to a new proportional electoral system.
I encourage everyone eligible to vote to ensure that you’re registered to vote at your current address, and that you take the time to review the proposed electoral systems on the ballot.
You can learn more about the referendum, and how to register to vote, here: https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/
Money Laundering in Real Estate
In late September, I expect to be announcing the terms of reference for the second phase of my office’s anti-money laundering review with Dr. Peter German, QC. This phase of Dr. German’s review will focus on the issue of money laundering and tax evasion in our real estate market.
The first phase of Dr. German’s review which concluded in June, exposed significant trans-national money laundering taking place in BC casinos, and made recommendations for reform that are underway right now at the provincial level.
Trans-mountain pipeline (Kinder Morgan pipeline)
In August, the Federal Court of Appeal decided that construction work needed to stop on the Trans-Mountain pipeline because of failures at the Federal level to consider the impact of the pipeline on the marine environment and to sufficiently engage with the concerns of First Nations people whose rights are affected by the pipeline.
Since election, our government has been pointing out that these two issues – impacts on the marine environment and First Nations participation – were serious and unresolved matters. We are continuing our discussion with the Federal government on these issues, and we are also continuing with proposed regulations which have been referred to the BC Court of Appeal that would regulate the shipment of bitumen by rail and by pipeline to ensure adequate spill protection measures are in place before shipment volumes increase.
UBC residence spaces
UBC is being supported by the provincial government in announcing a new building with 1,000 new residence spaces for students on campus at the corner of Wesbrook and Student Union Boulevard. This is good news for students who want to live on campus, renters looking for a place to rent in Vancouver, and residents concerned about strained public transportation systems and roads as students head to campus from across the Lower Mainland.
The largest transit investment in BC history
This summer, our government in partnership with the federal government and local mayors announced the largest investment in public transit in the province’s history. This $7.1bn funding package will build the Broadway subway to Arbutus, light rail in Surrey, and increase rail cars and busses throughout the region.
Modular Housing for the Homeless
Our government has been working overtime to provide housing for the homeless and underhoused across the province, including in Vancouver. Modular housing provides the province, in partnership with local governments, with rapid response housing that is constructed in a fraction of the time of a traditional BC Housing development. An initial 2,000 units of modular housing announced shortly after our election, with 600 units in Vancouver, has now been fully deployed to 22 different communities.
In a remarkable breakthrough, 160 people who were living in a homeless encampment in Surrey, which was known as the “Surrey Strip”, were moved indoors in June of this year through this program. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-homeless-people-in-surrey-encampment-moved-to-modular-housing/
While these units are a good start, we know we’ve got much more to do. Budget 2018 has now added an additional 2,500 new units, all with 24/7 support services for tenants who may be struggling with mental health and addiction. These units will make a significant difference for those who are currently homeless in our communities.
Thank you for your continuing work in making our community a wonderful place to be, and I hope to see you at the community events I’ll be attending throughout the fall in our neighbourhoods.
See you soon,
MLA, Vancouver Point Grey