(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Media Release

Renewing Call to Reform Medical Service Premiums

Media Statement September 15, 2016
Andrew Weaver Renews Call to Reform Medical Service Premiums
For Immediate Release

Victoria, B.C. – While a freeze in Medical Service Plan (MSP) premium increases is certainly welcome, the government has lost the opportunity to fully reform this regressive tax says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party.

“British Columbians will see this MSP announcement for what it is, a cynical ploy to gain votes as we head into an election year”, says Andrew Weaver. “We need to eliminate the MSP, not simply tinker around its edges.”

“Over the last three years I have consistently and continually called for the MSP to rolled into the income tax system with premiums calculated on taxable income rather than the current system which is a flat tax no matter what people earn.” says Andrew Weaver. “This would turn a regressive tax into a fair system much like has already been done in Ontario”

In Ontario, if you earn $20,000 or more a year you pay the Ontario Health Premium (OHP). It ranges from $0 if your taxable income is $20,000 or less, and goes up to $900 per year if your taxable income is more than $200,600. Instead of the mail-out system we have in BC, the OHP is deducted from the pay and pensions of those with employment or pension income that meets the minimum threshold.

“Remember – only Ontario’s top earners are paying $900 per year. Right now people in British Columbia are paying $900 a year regardless of whether they earn $42,000 or $4,200,000 a year.”

“As Leader of the BC Green Party I can affirm that a B.C. Green Party government would eliminate the regressive monthly MSP premiums. Instead, a B.C. Green government would introduce a progressive system in which rates are determined by one’s earnings. And a net and substantive administrative savings to taxpayers would arise in rolling MSP premiums into the existing income tax system.” says Andrew Weaver

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Background:

Call to eliminate MSP premiums:

Moving Forward with MSP premiums:

Media contact:
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Applauding Grizzly Bear Foundation inquiry

Media Statement: September 8th, 2016
Weaver applauds Grizzly Bear Foundation inquiry
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – “I welcome the Grizzly Bear Foundation’s inquiry into the status and future of grizzly bears in British Columbia and am supportive of the critical lens through which they are looking at this complex issue,” says Andrew Weaver, the MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party.

“Expanding our focus beyond trophy hunting is essential. While it is certainly an important factor, both morally and symbolically, and one I do not support, talking about trophy hunting alone is not enough. If we fail to also address poaching and threats to grizzly habitat and food supplies — especially with climate change further compromising essential salmon and huckleberry stocks — we will fail to protect grizzly bears in the long term.

“I am thrilled the Grizzly Bear Foundation shares this view and is so dedicated to the long term survival of grizzly bears in British Columbia, as well as the respectful inclusion of all stakeholders.
“The protection of wildlife and biodiversity for future generation is an issue that is of great importance to me. My research staff and I have worked on this file since I was first elected; we will continue to do so into the upcoming election. Combined with the Auditor General’s report, this new inquiry will lead to positive changes in how we manage and respect grizzlies and other wildlife in B.C.

“I look forward to attending the public hearing in Victoria this October.”

Media Contact:
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
1 250 216 3382

Climate Action Announcement Definitely Not Leadership

Media Statement – August 19, 2016
Climate Action Announcement Definitely Not Leadership
For immediate release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and leader of the B.C. Green Party calls the B.C. Government Climate Action announcement disappointing and lacking leadership.

“Not only has the Clark government dismantled many of the existing climate policies, but they are also ignoring key recommendations from their own expert panel on what needs to happen for B.C. to once again become a climate leader.

“For the past few years it has become painfully clear that the B.C. Liberals have chosen to forgo any leadership on this file, instead choosing to chase the LNG pipedream.

“As we go into another year with temperature records again being smashed across the world and in B.C., this government is content to fiddle and play games with carbon accounting. Without increasing the carbon levy there is no hope that British Columbia will meet its GHG reduction targets.

“For fifteenth consecutive month in a row, July 2016 emerged as the warmest month since measurements have been collected. Average global temperatures for the year-to-date period January-July 2016 shattered the previous record set in 2015. The government’s plan doesn’t demonstrate leadership. It demonstrates complacency and a wilful disregard of the urgency of dealing with climate change.

“British Columbia has an opportunity to become a leader in this world, establishing a 21st century economy built on innovation and clean technology. This goal cannot be realized with the current administration’s directionless approach to governance.

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Backgrounder – Changes since Christy Clark became Premier

Under Premier Gordon Campbell, British Columbia emerged as an international leader in climate policy. But since Christy Clark has taken over at the helm, we’ve move from being a leader to becoming a laggard. The legacy of Premier Clark’s so-called climate leadership to date is as follows:

  1. The Clean Energy Act was amended to exclude emissions for liquefaction in LNG industry;
  2. The Pacific Carbon Trust was shut down;
  3. Carbon tax increase were halted;
  4. Cap and Trade enabling legislation (designed to bring big point source emitters in with California) has been repealed;
  5. We have a new Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act that introduces an “emissions intensity” framework that is more about supporting an LNG industry than limiting emissions;
  6. The LiveSmart BC program has essentially shut down;
  7. Emissions have gone up year after year;
  8. We will not reach our legislated 2020 GHG reduction target.

Media contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Responding to Housing Bill

Media Statement: July 25th, 2016
Weaver Responds to Housing Bill
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – “Despite legislation tabled today by the BC Liberals, there is still no comprehensive plan when it comes to the affordability crisis facing British Columbians,” said Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head. “We need the government to come to the table with practical and province-wide solutions, rather than their six talking points.”

The legislation tabled today gives Vancouver the ability to introduce a vacancy tax. However, no other communities in the Province have been granted such powers.

“This piecemeal approach to the affordability crisis is simply pitting one jurisdiction against another. It makes no sense at all for one side of Boundary Road in Vancouver to potentially have a vacancy tax applied, while a vacancy tax cannot be applied on the other side of the street.

“Any attempt to solve the affordability crisis facing British Columbians needs to start with honestly recognizing the scale of the problem. For many, we are long past the threshold of affordability. This crisis is beginning to reverberate throughout B.C. as people get squeezed out of their communities and are forced to move.

“Skyrocketing real estate markets across the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island are dragging the rental market with them. Given the severity and reach of the housing crisis, a reactive piecemeal policy approach amounts to little more than blowing out birthday candles in the midst of a house fire.

“The legislation introduced today closes the bare trust loophole for offshore buyers that I have been attempting to get government to address for a number of years now. However, once more this is only being applied to the Vancouver market. All this will accomplish is to push foreign investment into neighbouring jurisdictions, furthering the affordability crisis in areas such as southern Vancouver Island.

“What is needed is a province-wide, coordinated approach involving all levels of government and across all communities. We need to ensure that our communities will be livable, that small businesses will thrive, and that the next generation will see opportunities to start families in our cities.

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Media Contact:
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

Government’s release of housing data nothing more than a photo op

Media Statement: July 7th, 2016
Weaver Criticizes Government’s Laughably Incomplete Housing Data
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – “The BC Government has already allowed the housing market to become a crisis, and now they are sitting on their powder keg holding press conferences based on 19 days worth of data,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “They have dropped the ball on this file — completely dropped the ball.”

“19 days worth of data is completely meaningless. This would be like me arguing that since the Canucks didn’t play any games between June 10 and the 29th, Vancouver doesn’t have a hockey team. It’s just laughable.

“Despite promises made in the 2016 budget, the government has failed to deliver any data on the occurrence and impact of beneficial ownership changes in bare trust owned properties. I have been asking for the data for three years now.

“When properties are registered in bare trusts and beneficial ownership is flipped there is no change in title at the Land Title Office. When there is no change of title there is no property transfer tax paid and no data collected by the BC government.

“The minister said our province has seen higher rates of house flipping in the past, but that data is based on registered sales only. There are a lot of houses out there that are flipping through changes in beneficial ownership, and those people are not paying property transfer tax.”

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Media contact:

Mat Wright
Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver MLA
Email: Mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
Cell: 250 216 3382
Twitter: @MatVic

Backgrounder

At present, anyone other than a first-time or new-home (< $750,000) buyer who buys a house must pay property transfer tax upon transfer of title at the Land Title Office. The tax owed is calculated as 1% of the first $200,000, 2% on the amount greater than $200,000 and less than $2,000,000 and 3% on the portion above $2,000,000.

But there is a glaring loophole that is being exploited more and more frequently by wealthy individuals and corporations. That loophole involves having the property held in what is known as a “bare trust”.

A bare trust is a legal entity that allows for the separation of beneficial and legal ownership. The beneficial owner of a property is the person or persons who make all the decisions concerning such things as rent, repairs, management, sale etc.; they are also the person or persons who receive all the revenue from and arrange financing for the property. The trustee of the bare trust has no substantive decision-making capacity as they simply act upon the instructions of the beneficial owner. Typically the trustee is a corporation that has no other purpose but to act as a trustee for the bare trust and for which the beneficial owner owns all the shares.

Suppose you own a $10,000,000 home that you want to dispose of. If you simply transferred title, like most of us do when we sell a home, the purchaser would have to pay $278,000 in property transfer tax.

But if instead the property is in a bare trust where the trustee is a company, then you will pay no tax. All you have to do is sell your shares in the company for 1$ (the company has no assets anyway), and sell the “beneficial ownership” rights of the property to a third party via a “bare trust agreement” which is not registered at the Land Title Office.  Since no change in title occurs, no tax is paid.

Ontario has a similar property transfer tax system in place but they have plugged the loophole. They apply the property transfer tax upon change in beneficial ownership, not just change in the title registered as the Land Title Office. This could and should be done in British Columbia to ensure everyone is treated fairly.