B.C.’s political parties traded barbs in the legislature on Tuesday after a new report showed British Columbia was the least affordable province to live in the country.
The study was released earlier this week by Westland Insurance, using data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Real Estate Association.
The report concluded that B.C. is at or near the top of two-thirds of cost categories measured by Statistics Canada – including least affordable place to buy or rent housing, most expensive public transit, most expensive gas, most expensive clothing and most difficult to obtain health and dental care.
B.C. is also near the top for most expensive groceries and household goods.
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The opposition BC United party seized on the report’s findings Tuesday.
“The costs that people are having to bear every single day are going up way faster than their wages, notwithstanding the piecemeal approach and affordability measures that the government has dribbled and drabbed out there,” said Todd Stone, BC United MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson.
“What we’re saying is a lot more needs to be done,” he said.
The B.C. NDP government was peppered with questions about affordability at the legislature.
The BC Conservatives asked for an end to the carbon tax, while BC United demanded the elimination of fuel taxes on gasoline and a carbon tax exemption for farmers, which it argued could help lower local food costs.
The NDP responded by recapping their affordability tax credits program, and argued that an almost $7 billion deficit this year shows the province is spending on helping people survive.
“That’s why we’ve brought in significant affordability measures, measures to help people, because we recognize people need help right now,” said B.C. Finance Minister Katrine Conroy.
“It’s not the time to make cuts, it’s not the time to cut services to people, it’s a time to ensure we can help people,” she said.
You don’t need another report to tell you the cost of everything is squeezing people right now, especially with interest rates. But every time a new study like this lands, it ratchets up the pressure on the NDP government to do more and create new affordability programs that just a few months ago it didn’t think it was going to have to consider.