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Letters May 29: The climate crisis, Canada's health-care system, rents and the housing crisis

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix pauses while responding to questions during a news conference, in Vancouver on Nov. 7, 2022. A letter-writer questions whether the province’s plans to send some cancer patients to Washington state will be temporary, as Dix has said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Regional approach needed for disasters

Re: “Cheaper to focus on climate resiliance than disaster relief: B.C. advisory board,” May 23.

This excellent report from the Climate Resources Council and the pointed remarks of co-chair Colleen Giroux-Schmidt make plain that getting to grip with climate risk before the fact makes more sense than ad hoc clean up after the event.

Question is, how should the province get a grip?

One thing apparently not in the report is the way climate resilience is to be organized. It was obvious in the case of the Fraser flood disaster that the lack of a regional flood management authority, response structure and funding was a big problem.

Asking separate municipalities to plan, build and fund flood response across many municipal lines was folly. So what to do?

In response to Hurricane Hazel, Ontario created flood response authorities with clout to take steps regionally to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. B.C. might want to do something similar or vest more authority with existing regional governance.

Problem is there appears to be solid resistance to vesting virtually any power at the regional level. This is a costly reluctance.

Creating an advisory group to review how to organize for climate resilience might be a good idea.

John Olson


If only the NDP could recognize the truth

The actions of governments, more often than not, have unintended consequences.

In B.C., the NDP government has decided to provide extraordinary protection to tenants, at the cost of landlords.

For example: zero per cent increases during COVID (when, at the same time, many tenants were receiving significant CERB payments from the federal government); nominal rent increases since COVID that are significantly below the inflation rate; creating additional paperwork and bureaucracy in the Residential Tenancy Branch, resulting in unprecedented delays and backlogs when landlords try to deal with problem tenants, etc., etc.

A significant number of landlords in B.C. are individuals who have used their life savings to purchase rental apartments or homes, to provide themselves with some additional income and equity gains.

As soon as government action makes investments in residential rental property uneconomic, guess what happens? Small landlords sell their properties, tenants get evicted, and the new owners move in.

The rates of “no fault” evictions are lower in Alberta and Saskatchewan (where there is no limit on rent increases), Ontario (where allowable rent increases are significantly higher than B.C.) and other jurisdictions, for the simple reason that governments in those jurisdictions recognize that landlords actually have to be able to afford the properties that they are renting out, as well as make a modest return on their investment.

If the NDP would recognize this simple truth, they would immediately see the number of ‘no fault’ evictions go down.

John Manning


Many things we can do to ease climate crisis

Resiliency in any circumstance is a good thing, but it is only a Band-Aid solution to the disasters our country has experienced in recent years, most caused by climate change.

Resiliency may be cheaper than disaster repair but only marginally because you can’t anticipate the magnitude or the scope of disasters brought on by climate change and where to enact resiliently.

Our provincial government’s funding commitment for resiliency projects is woefully inadequate to enable very many people to avoid disaster.

The government is setting many climate goals every year and spending billions of dollars trying to reach those goals, but none of those goals include “buy in” from the public.

There is little point setting goals if some of the many contributors to climate change, the people of Canada and around the world are unwilling to modify their behaviour in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

A large number of people are behaving as if we are still living in the 1970s.

Buy-in would include having fewer or no children, few or no vacations overseas to exotic places, fewer camping trips around the country, better planning so fewer shopping trips and reduced taxi service for you children and less impulse buying of “stuff” that just ends up in the trash.

Mike Wilkinson


Government is silent on this housing issue

B.C.’s higher rate of tenant evictions can be attributed in significant measure to the rent increase system that allows landlords to raise rents by any amount when a unit is vacated.

Conversely those tenants remaining in place have rents held artificially low, in comparison to market rents driven high-demand property value increases.

This creates a juggernaut of housing insecurity as landlords turn to ways and means to have longer-term tenants move out so rents can be bumped up to market rates.

In 2022 in Victoria, with a rent increase cap of 1.5 per cent, renters faced up to a 34 per cent increase in rental costs (two-bedroom units).

Closing the loophole of unlimited rent increases on vacated units is urgently needed if housing affordability is truly a public policy priority.

A system is needed to fairly distribute warranted rent increases, based on costs and actual investments on all rental units, regardless of the coming and going of tenants.

This system would also end the double dipping of landlords cashing in on market-driven increases in property values through uncontrolled rent increases passed on to tenants renting a vacated unit (is there any other kind) and then getting paid again for that value increase when they turn that property over.

The provincial government’s silence on the system that creates such turmoil for tenants and landlords is a mammoth elephant in the Housing Minister’s office.

Joanne Thibault


Socialized medicine has breathed its last

The time has come to be officially embarrassed by our failing Canadian medical system.

B.C. is now sending and paying for cancer patients to go south of the border for timely treatment that cannot be provided in Canada.

I never thought I would see the day and I’m sure I can hear Tommy Douglas rolling over in his grave.

What has happened to this supposedly wealthy country of ours? Health Minister Adrian Dix may say it’s temporary but it sure smells disgraceful and embarrassing to me.

Bring on the two-tier system and get it over with. Clearly functioning socialized medicine is dead in Canada.

C. Scott Stofer



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