Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says there’s not much in the federal 2018 budget for British Columbians. — Photo courtesy Gord Johns

Courtenay-Alberni MP says ‘lack of understanding’ for housing crisis

Budget used a gender-based analysis

The federal government tabled its 2018 budget this week, but the Courtenay-Alberni MP says there’s not much in the budget for British Columbians.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the federal budget in the House of Commons Tuesday (Feb. 27).

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The 2018 budget used a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) “to ensure that gender remains a key consideration for future governments.” According to the budget plan, GBA+ is an analytical tool used to assess how different groups of women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and initiatives.

Last year’s budget included the first gender statement, but the 2018 budget goes one step further to introduce the Gender Results Framework based on the GBA+.

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns said he and the NDP welcome the new gender-equity measures, but added the measures should have been implemented “a long time ago.”

Johns said a budget that used GBA+ “wouldn’t be possible without extraordinary women who refused to be paid less” and stood up for gender equity.

However, Johns said, there isn’t a lot in the budget for British Columbians.

“I think British Columbians and coastal people had hoped to find measures in the budget yesterday that would make their lives easier. They have every right to be disappointed on what the government has put forward,” Johns said in an interview with The NEWS Wednesday (Feb. 28).

He said a lot of the budget was re-announcements of previous investments, such as the national housing strategy, which Johns said won’t be rolled out until after the next election.

“Provincially, they’re not waiting… Why is the provincial government taking action immediately, and the federal government is taking its time?”

At Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Nanaimo town hall in early February, Mayor Teunis Westbroek asked Trudeau about the housing strategy, adding that it would be beneficial if the strategy was implemented earlier than 2019.

In an interview with Black Press, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said she was glad to see rental housing mentioned in the federal budget, but added she hadn’t seen any long-term plans. B.C. launched a 10-year housing plan last week.

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It its budget plan, the federal government proposes to increase the amount of loans provided by the Rental Construction Financing Initiative from $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion over the next three years.

Johns said the budget plan includes a section that states housing market pressures are easing, but he said the section in the plan mainly references Toronto and Vancouver.

“I literally have no idea where in Canada that the housing crisis is easing, but it’s certainly not on Vancouver Island,” Johns said. “The housing crisis is affecting seniors, families, single parents, everybody in our communities.”

“It’s not easy for people in this community; it’s far from that. They only referenced Toronto and Vancouver. The lack of understanding of the rural affordability issue in southwestern B.C. and areas that are affected by the housing crisis is real and it’s felt by many.”

Johns also touched on the lack of funding for marine debris and coast clean ups, but he said there is some money earmarked for the environment.

Johns said debate on the budget started Wednesday and will come back to the House of Commons in the third week of March. During that time, MPs will be able to bring forward thoughts and concerns of residents in their ridings, as well as put forward amendments.

He said people are welcome to email his office at gord.johns@parl.gc.a or visit www.gordjohns.ndp.ca/contact.

“My job is to be the messenger to bring our voice to Ottawa. I can’t do my job if I don’t hear from people.”

Send story tips to: lauren.collins@pqbnews.com

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