Recent announcements of new policy from all levels of government have not proved to be effective in accomplishing their objectives and, in some cases, have been retracted for reconsideration or rapidly amended soon after release.
The common thread here is that these policies sound great from a podium but do not deliver positive outcomes. In some cases, they even generate negative unintended consequences that cause further damage.
Case in point, the federal foreign buyer ban will do virtually nothing to address the housing crisis. Even the most preliminary data analysis shows that this demographic makes up less than one per cent of sales in the B.C. housing market, which is far too small to influence anything.
Furthermore, this policy sends a dangerous mixed message to the world when Canada is desperate for skilled immigrants to meet dire labour shortages in key industries. The policy is already starting to foster negative outcomes, and the federal government has already announced five amendments to the regulations to address concerns raised by the housing sector. Over the past year we’ve also seen:
An announcement of large-scale reconstruction of the Royal B.C. Museum, only for it to be suddenly put on hold, with a new round of public engagement.
Then came a restructuring of provincial autism funding, which was quickly withdrawn after outrage from parents of autistic children.
The problem is a lack of process when the government is crafting policy.
On the housing front, the provincial government’s announcement in November 2022 to invalidate strata corporation bylaws that set minimum age restrictions under 55 was intended to provide more opportunities for young families to access these units. In an entirely foreseeable outcome, the policy backfired when strata councils voted to make their entire projects “55-plus,” resulting in the exact opposite of the policy’s intention. As a result, media reported on young families fearing eviction, and the government recently announced an amendment to create additional exemptions to address this unintended outcome.
In times of crisis and uncertainty, Canadians look to their elected representatives for leadership. We rely on governments to create and implement policies that improve our lives, protect our rights, and build a brighter future for our children. But the current approach to public policymaking is failing us.