Debate in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 between MLA Andrew Wilkinson (BC Liberal) and Deputy Premier Carole James and Premier John Horgan on the subject of government housing initiatives.
A. Wilkinson: So far, from the Minister of Housing, we’ve heard that there’s going to be a comprehensive, holistic plan to develop partnerships to build a plan for a plan. Let’s get specific. Until this government was sworn in, there was a regular disclosure of the number of foreign buyers purchasing real estate in the British Columbia market. That stopped when members of this government were sworn in. Looking at the record, no less than the Attorney General said that those data were meaningless.
Well, now we find that under pressure, the Minister of Housing was found to say last week about these data releases: “I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about that just yet.” Let’s hear that answer again about the housing crisis in British Columbia. “I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about that just yet,” she said. Now we find the data are suddenly being posted again.
Will this minister stand up in the House and say that these data will be published on a timely and regular basis so that British Columbians can know what’s going on in the housing market? Please give us an answer. Please.
Mr. Speaker: Members, we will at least start to hear the answer.
Hon. C. James: I’d just like to correct the member across the way. The foreign buyers data actually comes out of the Ministry of Finance. That’s where the information comes from. Staff in the ministry were looking at three-month data. We decided we wanted it to come out monthly. The data is out, and yes, it will be out every month.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Vancouver-Quilchena on a supplemental.
A. Wilkinson: Well, it’s clear that a very small subset of cabinet is authorized to give real answers, so I’m glad we finally got one.
Speaking of answers, here’s what the Premier had to say on September 7 about housing: “We’re coming up on challenges that the solutions we had hoped to implement are not as easy to do as we had first hoped.” Now, the Minister of Housing may find there is a pretty easy answer to her modular housing problem, because there are about 200 construction trailers sitting in the middle of the Terrace airport because they’re cancelling projects all over this province.
This government has presented no plan whatsoever to work with the private sector to increase the supply of housing, when everyone knows…
Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall hear the question.
A. Wilkinson: …the private sector is the part that builds the housing in our economy.
Can the minister…? Perhaps the minister will be allowed to answer a question, Mr. Premier. Oh, he’s jumping to his feet already. Can the minister, appointed by the Premier, explain why she has effectively excluded the private sector from her consultations on housing?
Hon. J. Horgan: It’s good to be back in the House. I had other business yesterday in Vancouver, and I’ve found that the quality of the questions has not improved in my absence.
I’ve been trying to take inventory…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Horgan: …on what keeps the opposition busy these days, and it seems it’s following the headlines. I would have thought that the headline on today’s papers, “B.C. Liberals Bungle Site C, Put Ratepayers in Shock,” might have been the line of questioning they would have followed today. I would have thought that a modest amount of humility from that side of the House would have acknowledged that the housing crisis that we inherited was a result of their inaction. I would have thought…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. J. Horgan: …that the B.C. Liberal opposition would have got comfortable in their role and would have been constructive in their questioning, but alas, we have to await constructive questions from the members from the Green caucus.
Mr. Speaker: Members, before we continue, I’m reminded that the youngsters from an elementary school left quickly. I’m hoping we’re not going to see more visitors from the gallery leave.
Source: BC Hansard (draft transcript)