Challenges with health care, housing, and short-term rentals in the province are fixable, according to BC United Leader Kevin Falcon.
He was in Kelowna Nov. 15, for a private function with retiring Kelowna-West MLA Ben Stewart.
Falcon sat down with the media at Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrfield’s office.
He began by reiterating a promise to do away with B.C.’s carbon and fuel taxes if his party is elected the next government.
“I was the finance minister in 2012 who froze the carbon tax at six cents a litre…B.C. Liberal finance ministers subsequently kept it frozen until 2017 when the NDP got elected.”
“They did two things…they got rid of the revenue neutrality…it went from a tax shift to a tax grab…and they more than doubled the carbon tax to 15 cents a litre.”
Falcon said the province needs more doctors and that thousands of international medical graduates, including many Canadians, who want to come to B.C. simply can’t because current regulations make it difficult for them to be able to practice in the province.
”I’ve said that a BC United government would take a chainsaw to those regulations and red tape.”
Falcon said government also needs to embrace change and innovation throughout the healthcare system.
“If we continue to operate the healthcare system the way this current government is operating it, we are going to continue to see these kind of terrible results.”
Falcon said several of the bills the NDP have put forward to address the housing crisis in B.C. are rushed and lack information municipalities are asking about.
“Someone like myself or Renee (Merrifield) who actually have experience in the housing sector…we look at those bills and realize they are not going to achieve the outcomes that they’re trying to convince British Columbians that they will.”
One of the solutions he said is an NDP bill he is supportive of.
“It’s something I’ve been calling for, Bill 47 which says we ought to be densifying around transit corridors. I’m just concerned that their execution of the policy is going to be a challenge.”
Short Term Rentals
While he supports changes to short-term rental policies, Falcon said the legislation brought forward by the NDP hasn’t been thought through.
“We put forward four very common sense amendments to the legislation that would have improved it.”
They included going after the small percentage of Airbnb owners with multiple properties.
“We said, focus your attention on those people and don’t punish the small-time players that have one Airbnb. They unfortunately rejected all of our amendments.”
Falcon added the unintended consequences will be limited accommodation options for tourists and visitors.
He also suggested that many landlords have shifted from long-term to short-rentals because, under the NDP, it’s extremely difficult to evict a bad tenant.
“So they go to the short-term rentals because it’s easier and they don’t have to worry about the implications of the Residential Tenancy Act.”
Falcon said many property owners have told him that they will remove their units from the market once the short-term legislation is passed.
“That’s not a good thing for renters either.”
With a provincial election just under a year away, Falcon admitted that eight months after the party changed its name, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many British Columbians are unaware of who BC United is.
“By the time the next election rolls around I am very, very confident that people are going to know who Kevin Falcon and BC United is.”
Falcon was also asked about voter confusion between the BC and Federal Conservative parties affecting his party’s chances in the next provincial election.
“They (BC Conservatives) benefit from that,” he said. “If their party was called anything else they would be nowhere in the polls.”