Here at Vancity Community Foundation, we know that strong government funding is key to building communities that are affordable, resilient, equitable, and in Right Relations with the land.
A major part of this work includes our advocacy to government. That is why we had a team in Victoria for today’s budget announcement to help make sense of the numbers and provide some important highlights.
First, we want to thank the Provincial government for their renewed commitment to the BC Rent Bank, a project of Vancity Community Foundation, with an investment of $7M over the next three years, to help renters with financial support to prevent eviction and homelessness.
We at VCF are committed to closing the gap in our communities through addressing the growing inequality resulting from a lack of affordability and the continued disproportionate impacts of climate change.
Budget 2023 includes several new and renewed commitments on policy areas we see as key to building communities that are affordable, resilient, equitable, and in Right Relations with the land.
Here are some highlights:
Housing remains a top priority for this government, with Budget 2023 containing $4.2 billion in new operating and capital funding over three years. While many details were not part of the budget as government continues work on their revamped housing plan, some key initiatives were unveiled including:
$2.2B in capital spending for new provincially-owned housing across B.C. including shelter, supportive, affordable, and market rental housing
Up to $15.6M over three years for the Residential Tenancy Branch to support resolution of landlord/tenancy disputes
$394M to acquire land for future affordable housing projects along transit corridors
We look forward to working in partnership as we plan to exponentially grow our investment to scale non-profit housing development through our Accelerator Fund. The non-profit sector is best positioned to ensure non-market housing is an integral part of every thriving community.
Another key theme is support for people with low income. The most significant item was an additional $125 per month for the shelter rate component of income assistance, the first increase since 2007. This change will support approximately 160,000 people, including 33,000 children.
Other low-income supports include:
A new tax credit starting in 2024 for renters providing up to $400/yr for households making up to $60,000/yr with partial amounts available to households earning up to $80,000/yr
New K-12 school food programs to support the roughly 17% of children under 18 who experience food insecurity
On climate, most investments are focused on emergency response measures including:
Over $1B to support Provincial disaster response as well as work with local government and First Nations to make communities more resilient
We know that the non-profit sector is a key part of the front-line response to climate emergencies. We are keen to see the government address how to build resilience in this sector to ensure we are ready to be present and available for those impacted first and worst by climate change.
Reconciliation work was embedded in many of the new initiatives announced, but two items of note included:
Targeted housing investments to double the number of homes created through the Indigenous Housing Fund
10 more Indigenous Justice Centres over the next two years to help address the over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the criminal justice system
Finally, a consistent theme across the budget was equity and inclusion:
$119M to fully cover prescription contraception for all BC residents, the first jurisdiction in Canada to do so
$264M to expand support for foster families and those caring for children, youth, and adults with support needs
$4.5M in additional annual funding for the BC Human Rights Tribunal
$9M over three years to help implement the Anti-racism Data Act, legislation designed to further progress towards dismantling systemic racism
Overall, there was a lot to look forward to in Budget 2023 that, if implemented quickly, will help support people across BC who are dealing with growing pressures resulting from unaffordability.
But to truly make a lasting impact, the role of not-for-profits and community organizations must be acknowledged and amplified.
Investments in the capacity and resilience of Indigenous-led organizations as well as non-profit housing, climate, and social impact organizations, are how we build a just society where everyone is actively able to participate in building resilient communities.