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B.C. needs real solutions to address affordability

Cariboo-Chilcoltin MLA Lorne Doerkson’s column to the Free Press
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

In a province as diverse and varied as British Columbia, there aren’t a lot of universal daily experiences. However, I have realized over the last few years that there is something growing increasingly, and worryingly, more common — we are all shocked and stressed at how expensive life has become.

A day doesn’t go by without talking to a constituent, a friend, or a family member about how much we just paid for a tank of gas, how expensive a bunch of asparagus or a brick of butter is at the grocery store, or how much housing prices have increased in the last few years. No matter where you live in B.C., the bare necessities cost more than ever, and it is having a serious impact on people every day.

A recent report from the accounting firm MNP confirms this. They found that 52 per cent of British Columbians are just $200 or less away from insolvency at the end of the month. This means that more than half of the people in our province are living paycheque to paycheque, barely hanging on as costs continue to rise.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s inflation rate continues to outpace the rest of Canada. In fact, B.C. is the only province that saw the rate of inflation increase in June. It leads you to wonder what are other governments doing that simply isn’t happening here.

This is all made more frustrating by the fact the NDP government came to power on the promise of making life more affordable.

I truly don’t think there’s anyone in B.C. who can say their life has become more affordable in the last six years, so what has happened to make the NDP so obviously abandon the commitment they made to British Columbians? From housing to food to child care and transportation, everything is more expensive, despite the many NDP announcements and photo-ops trying to convince people otherwise.

But just because this government hasn’t introduced any real measures to immediately address the cost of living crisis, doesn’t mean that none are possible.

Our BC United Leader Kevin Falcon has been suggesting a temporary suspension of provincial gas taxes for over a year now. This is something that government could do tomorrow, and it would immediately make life just a little easier for everyone in B.C.

Not only would it make visits to the gas station slightly less painful, but it would impact every part of the supply chain, as the price of gas impacts the cost of everything from groceries to construction.

No one measure is going to be a silver bullet that solves every problem in B.C., but there are innovative steps the government could take to help people right now if they wanted to. And I sincerely hope they start wanting to because British Columbians genuinely cannot afford to wait any longer for this NDP government to take real action on affordability.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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