In advance of the work ahead in the 2024 winter and spring parliamentary session, I took the time to reflect on 2023 and some key priorities your federal government worked on to improve the lives of Richmond residents and Canadians.
I committed to being a strong voice to share our local priorities, working collaboratively to gain diverse perspectives to accurately represent everyone.
By establishing great working relationships with all levels of government, we were able to focus on getting things done and successfully secure over $400 million in federal government investments for Richmond since 2021.
Secured local investments were awarded in the following priority areas:
- Community safety, supports and services, heritage and arts.
- Infrastructure, district energy, emergency preparedness and flood mitigation.
- Business scale-up, innovation, research and development.
- Rapid housing and municipal housing acceleration initiatives.
- Ocean, waterways and environmental restoration and protection.
- National supply chain corridors.
These local investment initiatives have contributed to fair-paying jobs and record lows in unemployment with a focus on improving productivity in a healthy community environment.
With one in five British Columbians without access to a family doctor, and lengthy backlogs and delays for mental health services, residents have not received the healthcare services they deserve.
To support the province and improve healthcare delivery, the federal government announced historic investments and policy shifts this year, including:
- A transformative $27.47 billion investment in healthcare that requires B.C. to speed up foreign credential recognition and track progress on improving outcomes. 2023 saw a doubling of the number of nurses registered. This bilateral agreement focuses on health worker support, mental health services and modernizing health systems.
- Launched Canada’s first Dental Care Plan to provide oral health care for uninsured Canadians who face financial barriers and risks to overall health and productivity.
- Launched the 9-8-8 National Suicide Crisis Helpline to ensure 24/7 emergency access to suicide prevention, wellness and emotional support. Chimo Services will extend support to Richmond residents on behalf of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health $156 million hotline.
With some of the most expensive housing in the country and extremely tight rental markets, it is critical both to build more affordable housing and increase the housing supply to improve local affordability. We are committed to working with all levels of government, non-profit partners and the development community to tackle the housing crisis.
I had the opportunity to join colleagues to announce more than $46 million in federal funding to build over 1000 housing units, through the Rapid Housing Initiative and the Municipal Accelerator Fund for multiple projects around Richmond.
The combined housing investments unlock the following planned initiatives:
- Fast Track Rental and Affordable Housing.
- Housing Priorities Grant Program.
- Affordable Housing Non-Profit Partnership Program.
- Rental Tenure & Density Increases – Spires Road Area Pilot.
- Parking Requirement Reductions for city-wide impact.
- Targeted OCP Review: Explore Pre-Zoning Options.
- Permitting Optimization Project for streamlined processes.
- Automated Plan Review Project for faster approvals.
To restore affordability in the housing market, we are also:
- Supporting cities across Canada with the Housing Accelerator Fund to incentivize municipalities to remove prohibitive zoning barriers and incentivize building
- Removing the GST from new purpose-built rental housing
- Cracking down on non-compliant short-term rentals with the tax code and supporting municipal enforcement
- Creating a new Canadian Mortgage Charter to ensure Canadians at financial risk can access tailored mortgage relief when renewing their mortgages
- Witnessing the Tax Free First Home Savings Account helping over 250,000 Canadians to date.
Affordability & Cost of Living Measures:
- Increased Old Age Security by 10% for seniors over 75.
- Added $10 a-day Childcare to provide savings to support working families.
- Canada Child Benefit helped 11,710 parents receive an average of $6,016.
- Permanently eliminated interest on federal student and apprentice loans.
- Cracked down on junk fees from consumer roaming charges to bank charges.
- Lowered credit card transaction fees to empower small businesses and protect consumers.
The measures taken this past year have shown measurable relief for those who need it the most. However, I know Canadians continue to face the pressures of global inflation.
I look forward to finding ways to combat everyday household challenges and will continue to work hard on behalf of everyone in Richmond as your voice in Ottawa and keep chipping away to help Canadians get ahead.
* The views expressed in this article are those of Parm Bains. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Richmond News.