As we look back on 2023 and forward to 2024, here are three of the biggest ways that the federal government has improved the lives of British Columbians:
With some of the most expensive housing in the country and extremely tight rental markets, it is critical both to build more affordable housing and increase the housing supply to improve local affordability across the board. We are committed to working with all orders of government to tackle the housing crisis.
Accordingly, this year, I announced more than $95 million in federal funding to build 515 units, including in West Vancouver, projects in Squamish, Whistler and Bowen Island, in Mount Currie and N’Quatqua, along with support for infrastructure upgrades to help accommodate an increasing population. The federal government has now invested in creating over a thousand housing units across the riding since I was first elected in 2019, and there is more on the way.
To restore affordability in the housing market, we are also:
- Supporting municipalities with the Housing Accelerator Fund to incentivize municipalities to remove prohibitive zoning barriers and incentivize building
- Removing the GST from new purpose-built rental housing
- Cracking down on non-compliant short-term rentals with the tax code and supporting municipal enforcement
- Creating a new Canadian Mortgage Charter to ensure Canadians at financial risk can access tailored mortgage relief when renewing their mortgages
With one in five British Columbians without access to a family doctor, a toxic drug supply and overdose crisis that is the leading cause of death of British Columbians under the age of 59, and lengthy backlogs and delays for mental health services, British Columbians have not been getting the healthcare services they deserve.
To support the province to improve healthcare delivery, the federal government announced historic investments and policy shifts this year, including:
- A transformative $27.47 billion investment in healthcare that requires B.C. to speed up foreign credential recognition and track progress on improving outcomes. 2023 saw a doubling of the number of nurses registered.
- Approving a pilot program to temporarily decriminalize small possession of drugs to encourage those suffering from addiction to get the help they need, while investing in mental health and addiction services, and harm reduction projects, including an investment in Squamish.
- Launching the 9-8-8 National Suicide Crisis Helpline to ensure emergency access to suicide prevention and emotional support. A new Foundry Centre was launched in Squamish, and a further Foundry is coming in Sechelt as part of the 35 centres that will be established through our bilateral agreement with B.C.
Environment and climate change
British Columbians are deeply connected to their spectacular natural environment and want to see it and the biodiversity it supports protected. In 2023, the federal government:
- Updated the Canadian Environmental Protection Act with my amendment to enshrine a right to a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment for the first time in federal law.
- Announced a historic $1 billion Nature Agreement with the BC government and First Nations that charts the path to protect 30% of lands by 2030, including prioritizing the most ecologically valuable areas, such as our old-growth forests, and protecting species at risk. This follows and executes many of the tenets of my Motion M-83, which provides a plan for federal leadership in old-growth forest protection.
- Became the first G20 country to end fossil fuel subsidies, and the first country in the world to outline a cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector.
To stay up to date on my work please visit patrickweiler.ca, follow me on social media @PatrickBWeiler, or email me at Patrick.Weiler@parl.gc.ca.
I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season, and the very best for 2024.
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country
The views expressed in this article are those of Patrick Weiler. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Bowen Island Undercurrent.