Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan take part in a forum on poverty in Vancouver April 4 (Metro Vancouver Alliance)

Greens, NDP aim for low-income support

Horgan promises renter tax credit, Weaver offers huge welfare rate increase

With the B.C. Liberals’ multi-million-dollar campaign rolling across the province, the B.C. NDP and Green Party are wooing low-income voters with promises of help for low-income people and renters.

NDP leader John Horgan announced his plan for a $400-a-year tax credit for renters at a campaign stop in Vancouver Wednesday. Horgan also promised changes to the Residential Tenancy Act to stop landlords from using fixed-term leases to get around the provincial cap on annual rent increases.

Also in Vancouver Wednesday, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver unveiled a plan to increase income assistance, disability assistance and shelter allowance by 10 per cent a year, starting this fall and continuing for five years.

The Green Party estimates the assistance increases will cost $79 million in the second half of the current fiscal year, rising to $788 million a year by 2020. The plan also includes “basic income support” for youth aged 18 to 24 transitioning from foster care, estimated to cost $60 million a year, as a model for a broader minimum income program for B.C.

The NDP’s promises for renters echo a proposal released the same day by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Both Horgan and Robertson call for a budget increase for the province’s Residential Tenancy Office, which they say has been cut by the B.C. Liberals to the point where access for renters is too difficult.

“Renters should not be kicked out of their homes just because their landlord wants to renovate,” Robertson said in a video released Wednesday.