Where is BC's promised renters' rebate?

Nov 21 2022, 11:40 pm

John Horgan’s tenure as BC’s premier has come and gone, and British Columbians are still waiting on his promised $400-per-year renters’ rebate to materialize.

New Premier David Eby announced a package of measures to help the housing crisis in the form of new legislation put forward Monday. It included new accountability measures for cities building new housing and an end to stratas’ ability to restrict rentals.

But noticeably absent was any kind of cash bound for renters’ pockets.

Horgan first promised a rental rebate of $400 for every tenant on the 2017 campaign trail. Again while seeking re-election in 2020, Horgan promised $400 per year for BC households earning up to $80,000 annually.

While he fulfilled some of his 2020 election promises, including extending BC’s rent freeze to the end of 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDP never delivered on the rent rebate — one of the campaign promises ahead of the NDP’s majority win.

Premier Eby was asked about the renters’ rebate during his swearing-in ceremony on November 18, and said he plans to deliver it — but didn’t give specifics on when.

“We ran on a platform for British Columbians, commitments to them that we would deliver for their community. Among them was the renter’s rebate,” he said. “We are going to deliver on our platform commitments for British Columbians, including the renter’s rebate and I look forward to that.”

However, opposition housing critic Mike Bernier with the BC Liberals accuses the NDP government of giving renters “false hope” for two consecutive elections.

“Eby has failed to deliver. Instead, he watched the average rent in B.C. rise by more than $1000 a month and Vancouver become the most expensive rental market in the country. Results matter, and B.C. renters are tired of waiting for David Eby to make good on his promises.”

The situation for renters in Metro Vancouver has only gotten more dire since the pandemic, with average rents for one- and two-bedroom apartments reaching new highs over the summer.

In October 2022, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver was $2,500, a 19% increase from the same time last year, according to a report from Zumper.

Pandemic rent freezes have also expired, although the NDP has capped rent increases at 2% for next year amid soaring inflation rates.

It’s unknown if or when the NDP will deliver on its promise of a $400 renters’ rebate, but one thing’s certain — many renters in the province could use help.

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