The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Greens Want NDP to Kill Promised $400 Renters’ Grant

Campaign commitment bad policy, says Andrew Weaver.

By Andrew MacLeod 7 Dec 2017 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver says he hopes the NDP government will abandon a campaign promise to give renters grants similar to the ones homeowners have received for years.

“I don’t expect to ever see the renters’ rebate of $400 per renter. It was a gimmick,” Weaver said this week. “We’ve been very straight up with [Finance Minister] Carole James that this is not good policy... We think this is reckless.”

The government is still considering the policy, which the NDP’s platform estimated would cost $265 million a year.

James was unavailable for an interview. In an emailed statement she said, “We are working on a long-term, comprehensive plan to make housing more affordable for people... The renters’ rebate is part of these discussions around our comprehensive housing strategy.”

The NDP promised an annual $400 renters’ rebate during the provincial election campaign last spring. “Homeowners get a break on their property taxes each year,” the party’s platform said. “Renters deserve a break too, especially with the skyrocketing rents we see today.”

People who own homes worth up to $1.6 million get the full regular homeowner’s grant of $570 each year in Greater Vancouver, the Victoria region and the Fraser Valley. Outside of those areas, owners receive $770. There are additional amounts for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and people who live with people with disabilities.

The grants are gradually phased out on homes worth more than the threshold, which is reviewed each year and set at a level so that 91 per cent of homes are eligible, according to the government’s website.

Weaver said he could see reviewing the homeowner grant but argued it’s different than the promised renters’ grant. “It’s designed for lower-value houses,” he said. “It’s not there for the much higher homes.”

The renters’ rebate as proposed during the election would be paid to people living in even the most expensive rentals.

“Ultimately, everybody benefits if you have a more enhanced, needs-based rental subsidy program than you would giving wealthy people $400,” Weaver said. “All that’s going to do is jack all the rents up... First year economics say the market absorbs it and prices go up $400.”

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association promoted a grant for renters ahead of the election. “If it’s targeted to those who are really in need, it’s a good public policy measure,” managing director Jill Atkey said.

Of the 500,000 renting households in the province, 117,000 are in rentals that are more expensive than they can afford but that are otherwise suitable, Atkey said. A grant could be used to help people afford the units that already exist and that they already live in, she said. “What we’ve recommended is not universal for all renters.”

It’s true that the homeowners’ grant is questionable public policy, she said. “We incentivize home ownership far more than we have anything in place for renters... This [proposed renters’ rebate] does sort of level the playing field.”

It might be politically difficult to eliminate homeowner grants, but the government could begin by no longer increasing the eligibility threshold each year, she said. “I think a lot of homeowners look at that and question whether they really need that $570 contribution from government and could it be spent more wisely.”

Atkey said grants for people who rent would help the recipients as well as landlords, including non-profit organizations dealing with rising operating costs.

She also pointed out that laws limit how quickly rents can rise. In 2018, the increase is limited to four per cent.

“Renters would still benefit at the end of the day if they’re getting a $400 benefit,” she said.

The government has lots of options for making housing more affordable, Atkey said, whether by raising incomes through policies like an increase to the minimum wage or by directly subsidizing renters.

She said she’s optimistic the province’s February budget will include a strong plan. “We’re anticipating some big announcements in February.”

The NDP, with 41 seats, needs the support of the three Green MLAs to provide a majority in the 87-seat Legislature. The Greens’ “confidence and supply agreement” with the NDP commits the party to support the budget.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics, Housing

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll