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Congratulations BC Digital Technology Supercluster on receiving federal innovation funding

Today the Federal Government announced the results of its Innovation Superclusters Initiative. I am absolutely thrilled that the B.C.-based Digital Technology Supercluster consortium was selected as one of five successful national programs to share a portion of $950 million in federal innovation funding. As noted in the BC government’s announcement, more than $500 million in private sector funding has also been committed to the BC-based supercluser project.

Below I attach our media release congratulating the Digital Technology Supercluster consortium.


Media Release


Weaver congratulates B.C.-led supercluster on federal innovation funding
For immediate release
February 15, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, congratulated the B.C. Digital Technology Supercluster on receiving a portion of the federal innovation funding.

“B.C.’s growing tech sector will lead the future economic growth of this province,” said Weaver.

“I have had the pleasure of meeting with a number of the companies involved in the Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster. They are diverse, innovative and deeply committed to seeing success in British Columbia. I extend my sincere congratulations to the team and look forward to watching them grow.

“I am particularly encouraged by the engagement of the resource sector in this supercluster. Technological innovation goes far beyond the excellent startups in our cities – there is an incredible opportunity to bring innovation together with our resource sector to create jobs and economic growth across the province.

“I am proud to be part of championing innovation in this province. Two of our key platform commitments – the Innovation Commissioner and the Emerging Economy Task Force – are being implemented as part of our Confidence and Supply Agreement with the government. We will continue to advocate for policies and initiatives that will ensure that B.C. is a leader in the immeasurable opportunities of the 21st century economy.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Welcoming provincial measures to support B.C. wines

On February 10, the BC Green caucus called on the BC Government to take steps to promote the BC wine industry in light of Alberta’s recent petty announcement that it was initiating a boycott.

We are delighted that the BC Government today announced a number of measures to support and promote the BC Wine Industry.

Below is the media release we issued in response to this announcement.


Media Release


B.C. Green Caucus welcomes provincial measures to support B.C. wines
For immediate release
February 14, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, welcomed the government’s measures to support the B.C. wine industry. Weaver previously called for a number of the same measures on February 10.

“I am glad that our government is standing up for this signature B.C. industry,” said Weaver.

“We called for a number of these measures last week because our wine industry represents the exact type of business we should be championing in this province. B.C.’s wineries are innovative, homegrown businesses that generate significant economic activity for communities across the province. After seeing the previous government relentlessly chase economically unviable sunset industries like LNG, it is frankly refreshing to see our government focus on sustainable local businesses.”

“I had the opportunity to meet with a number of Okanagan wineries over the past couple weeks. We have heard many exciting ideas about how we can better support them. Smaller wineries in particular benefit from a focus on tourism that brings people to B.C. We will continue to push for measures that will help B.C. wineries of all sizes thrive.”

Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for Agriculture, added, “I am delighted that Minister Popham is stepping up to support B.C wine. B.C.’s wine industry generates $2 billion worth of economic activity and they’re growing: between 2003 and 2016, the number of B.C. wineries increased from 81 to to 273. We are only seeing the beginning of the success for this incredible industry.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Statement on Fair Wages Commission report

Today the British Columbia Fair Wages Commission released its first of two reports. The establishment of a Fair Wages was a key component of our Confidence and Supply Agreement with the BC NDP.

We are very pleased with the recommendations of the Commission as I outline in our release media release reproduced below


Media Release


Weaver statement on Fair Wages Commission report
For immediate release
February 8, 2018

 

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, issued the following statement in response to the Fair Wages Commission final report.

“We proposed the Fair Wages Commission with the goal of depoliticizing the process of setting minimum wage in B.C,” Weaver said.

“We support raising the minimum wage: ultimately, all British Columbians should have livable incomes. We know that our economy will be made even stronger when people can afford to live where they work, have adequate income and time to spend with their families and on their health, and have disposable income to help fuel local businesses.

“I am glad that a key recommendation of the report is to establish a permanent commission to keep politics out of minimum wage discussions, and I strongly urge the government to commit to this recommendation. This commission should be empowered with the explicit mandate of analyzing the impacts of minimum wage increases and recommending changes going forward based on evidence.

“It is essential that we ensure changes to the minimum wage are done within the broader context of the changing economy, and in a responsible way that minimizes adverse effects while maximizing benefits to British Columbians. As we move towards the goal of livable incomes for all British Columbians, we must put evidence first and proactively address the changes on the horizon. We look forward to working further with the government to explore innovative solutions, such as basic income, to the growing issues of precarious work and technological automation.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Seeking bold action: BC Green caucus release housing priorities for Budget 2018

Over the last few months my caucus colleagues, legislative staff and I undertook extensive research and consultation as we developed our housing policy priorities for input into the Budget 2018 consultation process. Today we released the results of our analysis during a press conference at the Creekside Community Centre in Vancouver. Entitled Seeking Bold Action: Housing Priorities for Budget 2018, our policies place an emphasis on curbing speculation and the role of global capital in our housing market.

The affordability crisis is devastating communities across our province. In particular, despite significant evidence of the role of speculation in driving up prices, successive governments have failed to act on the demand side.

In February the NDP Government will table their first full budget. They have a critical opportunity in front of them to take real action on housing affordability and protect the future for people of all ages and demographics in our cities.

Developing constructive solutions to the affordability crisis has been our top priority and we have already communicated our suggestions directly to government.

Below I reproduce my opening remarks at the press conference along with a copy of our press release.


Opening remarks


Today, I’m pleased to release a document outlining our priorities for action from this government on housing affordability.

In February the NDP Government will table their first full budget. They have a critical opportunity in front of them to take real action on housing affordability.

British Columbians have waited for action on this file from government for far too long.

People have watched as years of government inaction have allowed house prices to spiral out of control, as neighbourhoods empty and people are forced to make huge sacrifices to live in our cities.

This must not be allowed to continue. We need bold action now to tackle this crisis and make our cities vibrant, welcoming, and affordable.

Houses are not commodities – like gold or potash – which can be bought, sold, and traded exclusively for profit.

Homes are where people live, and they are the centre of our communities.

Yet our province is turning into a playground for the wealthy and our real estate a bank account for the wealthy.

Our cities have become a place for speculators to park their capital and reap huge returns, while ordinary British Columbians struggle to find a suitable place to live.

The skyrocketing price of real estate is precluding young people and families from buying homes in our cities.

Sky-high rents and near 0% vacancy levels in several communities are forcing renters to contend with huge competition, and to live in cramped and unaffordable accommodation.

As a result, young people are finding it increasingly difficult to see a future for themselves in our cities.

Small businesses in our cities are struggling to make rent, pay their property taxes and attract workers.

I’ve heard from many industries, especially our growing tech sector, that are struggling to attract and retain talent, because people can’t afford to live in our cities.

This is becoming a threat to our economy and must be fixed.

in January, an Insights West Survey found that 50% of British Columbians said that housing, homelessness and poverty was the #1 issue in BC. That’s up from 36% in August, and 14% in 2015.

Yesterday, a poll released by Angus Reid found that half of British Columbians want to see the housing market cooled. Just 14%, and just 1 in 5 existing homeowners, want to see prices continue to climb.

As part of our agreement with the NDP, we have the opportunity to share our priorities with them through budget consultations.

In this document, we summarize our input into the consultations and outline our priorities on housing affordability.

First and foremost, we want to see government take strong steps to curb speculation and restrict the impact of global capital on our housing market.

There is a great deal of evidence that foreign money is having a significant impact on our housing market, driving up prices well beyond what local incomes can afford.

Moreover, both global and domestic speculators are treating our houses as commodities to be bought, sold and traded exclusively for profit. They are reaping huge gains and pricing out people with average incomes who live and work in our cities.

But despite this, the provincial government has been hesitant to take action on global demand or on speculation. We think this needs to change with this budget.

When businesses can’t hire employees, when students are forced to shell out $800 a month to live in a tiny room, when our young people can’t see a future for themselves here, we need to realize that we are in an emergency.

Let’s take action to ensure that our houses are for homes first.

We believe that a crucial action government should take is to restrict the foreign purchasing of property in BC.

People who don’t live, work, and pay taxes here should be prohibited from purchasing existing property here. We can follow the lead of a number of other jurisdictions around the world, like New Zealand, that have done exactly this.

We also want to see government implement a speculators tax that targets absentee owners who own property in BC but do not pay adequate income taxes here. If the NDP does not pursue restrictions on foreign ownership, it is critically important that they include a speculator’s tax like this in this budget.

Government should levy a tax on flipping, to discourage the rapid flipping of property for profit, which drives up prices and adds no value to communities.

This government needs to take steps to protect the ALR from the impacts of speculation, including restricting the foreign ownership of ALR land and working with local governments to limit house sizes.

And we want to see loopholes closed that allow people to avoid paying taxes, including the bare trust loophole and ensuring that the foreign buyers tax applies to purchases of ALR land, partnerships, and pre-sales.

Our second priority is ensuring that we free up existing supply and ensure that new supply meets the needs of average British Columbians, not wealthy speculators.

A key part of achieving this goal is working with and empowering local governments to tackle the crisis, with the support of the province.

The province should work with local governments to regulate and restrict short-term rentals, to to encourage property owners to return units to the long-term rental supply.

The province should give all local governments the ability to tax empty homes, like they’ve done for the City of Vancouver, to discourage absentee ownership and raise revenues at the municipal level for housing initiatives.

And, the province should help local governments rethink zoning to increase the right kind of supply.

We also want to ensure that government deals with the impacts of the crisis on British Columbians in a responsible way, that does not put further inflationary effects on the market.

The irresponsible and risky BC HOME partnership should be repealed, and assistance to renters should be means-tested, streamlined and effective, to ensure help is going to those who need it most.

Finally, it is critical that government improve data collection and transparency, disseminate to support decision-making and to crack down on tax evasion and fraud.

To summarize

The scale of this crisis requires bold, decisive action if we are to make our cities livable and affordable.

Our cities should be places where people can afford to live where they work:

  • where young people feel optimistic about their future;
  • where small businesses thrive;
  • And where neighbourhoods are vibrant and full of life.

This is the kind of society we should be building, and we will continue to pressure government to ensure that they deliver.

Thank you.


Media Release


Weaver releases B.C. Green Caucus housing policy priorities in Vancouver
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, released a summary of his Caucus’ housing policy priorities today in Vancouver. The Party’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. NDP commits both parties to collaborate to make housing more affordable by increasing supply and dealing with the role of speculation and fraud. The policy document released today is a summary of the B.C. Green Caucus’ recommendations to government for the upcoming provincial budget.

“The affordability crisis is devastating communities across our province,” said Weaver. “In particular, despite significant evidence of the role of speculation in driving up prices, government has failed to act on the demand side. Our policies place an emphasis on curbing speculation and the role of global capital in our housing market.

“British Columbians have awaited action for far too long. It is time to move past rhetoric and get to work delivering solutions. We are putting forth realistic, evidence-based policies so that our consultations in this minority government are more transparent, and so that we can keep the pressure on government to take action.”

The measures the B.C. Green Caucus is urging government to implement include:

1. Curb speculation and the impact of global capital

  • Restrict foreign purchasing of property
  • Implement a speculators tax
  • Implement a tax on flipping
  • Close the bare trust loophole
  • Close loopholes in the foreign buyers tax
  • Implement ALR restrictions

2. Increase the supply of affordable housing

  • Work with local governments to regulate and restrict short term rentals
  • Give local governments the ability to tax empty homes
  • Help local governments rethink zoning

3. Enhance financial stability for home-buyers and renters

  • Eliminate the BC HOME partnership
  • Instead of a universal “renters’ rebate”, provide means-tested support for renters

4. Improve transparency and data

  • Collect more data on buyers and sellers of real estate
  • Close loopholes enabling some investors to hide their identities
  • Disseminate data more freely and regularly

“Everyday we are hearing stories from all corners of the province about the impact of this crisis, from young people forced to move out of province, to businesses who are struggling to pay rent and attract workers due to the cost of living,” added Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for housing and municipal affairs.

“This is not healthy for our economy and it is not healthy for our communities. Our communities should be places where people from all walks of life can thrive. We will continue to push for bold action on this file so that we can ensure all of B.C.’s communities are vibrant, healthy and affordable.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Welcoming clean tech investment from Western Economic Diversification to Alacrity

Western Economic Diversification Canada today announced a $787,115 investment in the Victoria-based Alacrity Foundation of B.C. to support the western clean technology sector. BC announced that it would supplement this funding with an additional $79,000.

We are absolutely thrilled with this investment in Alacrity. The foundation has played a crucial role in incubating, nurturing and growing innovative local tech companies through to maturation. They have a global reach with regional offices in China, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey, Wales and Ottawa, Ontario.

Below I reproduce a copy of our press release celebrating this investment.


Media Release


Weaver welcomes clean tech investment from Western Economic Diversification to Alacrity
For immediate release
January 23, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, welcomed an investment of over $787,115 to the Alacrity Foundation of B.C. to support the Western Clean technology sector.

“This is exactly the type of investment we need to be making to ensure that B.C. and Canada are global economic leaders,” said Weaver.

“The world is forging ahead with the transition to the low-carbon economy. Countries as diverse as China, to Germany, to Saudi Arabia are investing heavily in clean technology and alternative energy. With our highly educated workforce, outstanding postsecondary institutions and entrepreneurial spirit, B.C. is poised to be a leader in the clean tech revolution.

“Government has a significant role to play in championing this vision and setting the priorities for our province. Our party will continue to support investment and innovation in this sector so that we can make this vision a reality.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca