Cost of housing continues to climb

The cost of housing

Since 2015, rent and the cost of owning a home have doubled, federal policies have poured fuel on the inflationary fire and taxes have increased, including the carbon tax, which makes the price of anything shipped go up. (Increasing) Interest rates are now adding to debt costs for families.

Canada's Food Price Report 2023 predicts a family of four will spend up to $1,065 more on food this year, and food bank use has already increased by more than 30% as families struggle to get by.

This year's federal budget will only add to inflation. It increase several taxes, has no plan to balance itself in the years to come and adds more than $60 billion in new spending, costing $4,200 per family.

Canadians cannot afford the government's inflationary deficits, as food and housing have all hit record highs. Moreover, the government plans to introduce a second carbon tax that will drive carbon taxes up to 61 cents per litre, further hiking the price of gas, heat and groceries.

Conservatives will use all the parliamentary tools available to bring common sense to the country's finances. That is why we introduced 904 amendments to this year's budget to do what we can to stand up for struggling families.

(Editor's note: On Wednesday, the budget bill was passed in the House of Commons, 177 to 146, with the support of Liberals and New Democrats. Conservatives and Bloc Québécois MPs voted against it.)

Canadians now spend 62% of their paycheque on their monthly housing payments, up from 39% in 2015. While it previously took five and a half years to save for the average downpayment on a home in parts of British Columbia, it now takes 30 years. This represents a staggering 500% increase in only eight years.

When I asked the housing minister recently in the House of Commons what he thought the average rent in Kelowna was, he said "it doesn't matter". It certainly does matter what rent costs. When I asked him about the increase in the time it takes to save for a downpayment home, he would not acknowledge it as an issue or take any accountability.

People are struggling to afford basic necessitates like food, housing and fuel, and homelessness is increasing in our community and across Canada. Despite the federal government claiming it is taking meaningful steps to provide solutions to address the issue, a non-partisan report from the Office of the Auditor General noted the federal government does not even know whether its billions of dollars spent on homelessness is making any difference.

Canada has the fewest homes per capita in comparison to other G7 nations. Government regulations and red tape stand in the way of construction. Conservatives believe federal infrastructure funding should be tied to the number of homes built. This is common sense.


On another note, with Canada Day celebrations just around the corner, I wanted to highlight that my office is once again offering complimentary Canadian flag sets to residents of Kelowna-Lake Country.

This is our fourth annual Canada flag set community initiative. The sets include a 3 x 5 Canada flag, a hand flag and a pin.

Our flag symbolizes hope, prosperity and peace. Let's reflect on the symbolism of our national flag to bring us together and to give strength to others.

If you would like to request a complimentary Canada flag set, please contact our constituency office via phone or email with your full name, phone number, address, and email in order to reserve one. Flag sets are available on a first-come basis and my staff will coordinate with those who reserved sets to either pick them up at my constituency office over the next couple of weeks or pick up them up on Canada Day, either in Kelowna or Lake Country at my community booth.

I hope to see you on Canada Day and if you're heading out of town, travel safe.

If you need any assistance with programs, have any thoughts to share, or would like to reserve a Canada flag set, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Cost of new clean fuel standard a second carbon tax

Two carbon taxes

One of the issues that recently came to light in Ottawa is the cost of the new clean fuel standard, which is basically, a second carbon tax.

This is at a time when inflation and interest rates are still high and families and small business finances are still squeezed.

According to an analysis by the office of the non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the second carbon tax is estimated to cost the average Canadian household an additional $573 per year. That is without any rebates, and with families in some provinces facing costs as high as $1,157.

The PBO’s past analysis showed a majority of Canadians already are further behind, net any rebates they may get, based on the first carbon tax.

The PBO reports the combined impact of both carbon taxes will result in an additional 61 cents per litre of gasoline once fully in effect. The first carbon tax will cost 41 cents per litre, the second 17 cents per litre, and with three cent per litre GST added on, it will add up to the 61 cents per litre. The GST on these carbon taxes is nothing more than a tax on a tax.

This will also significantly affect the cost of anything shipped—whether it be food, medicine, home appliances, construction supplies or anything else we buy.

The PBO also confirmed this tax will shrink our economy with predictions British Columbia will see a GDP contraction because of the carbon tax policies. The additional costs associated with carbon taxes hinder economic growth and competitiveness as a trading nation.

These policies come at a time when Canadians are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, and a reported one in five people are skipping meals due to 40-year high inflation.

I have heard from many members of our community who are worried the additional costs will significantly affect the affordability of gas, heat and groceries, further straining household budgets. Local food bank use is up more than 30% already.

Despite previously claiming the PBO is a non-partisan and trustworthy source, the environment and climate change minister has disputed the findings, saying it is an “incomplete analysis”.

Conservatives are committed to common sense policies by eliminating the carbon taxes and bringing home affordability for Canadians. It is important we protect the environment through technological advancements and innovation, reduce global GHG emissions through LNG exports, incentivizing carbon capture and storage and speeding up approval processes for tidal energy, nuclear and hydro.

If you need assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected]

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Making laws for Kelowna-Lake Country

MP's effort to support bills

I am always looking for every opportunity to bring the voice of Kelowna-Lake Country to Ottawa, and one way to do this is by seconding of a Private Members Bill.

In this report, I want to highlight some of the legislation I've seconded in the House of Commons that can impact many in our community. And, as a reminder, I also tabled my own Private Members Bill, C-283 the “End the Revolving Door Act”, which aims to get mental health assessments and mental health and addiction recovery in federal penitentiaries.

A Saskatchewan Conservative MP’s bill, C-318, is a proposed law that seeks to provide equity to families of adoptive and intended (surrogate) parents.

While any new parent today will receive parental benefits, adoptive and intended parents do not receive maternity benefits and, therefore, fewer weeks of benefits. We rightfully recognize that time for attachment with a child is vital, and is needed for all parents. Forming a loving bond can come with extra challenges, especially when it has been estimated that most children adopted in Canada are over the age of 10 at the time of placement or, if the child has a disability or developmental challenges, who need extra care and attention.

If passed, C-318 will be inclusive to all parents and provide adoptive and intended parents the same benefits, in terms of both dollars and weeks, that non-adoptive parents receive through parental and maternity benefits.

I spoke about this legislation in the House of Commons and said how this bill is close to my heart, as I was adopted at birth.

A Nova Scotia Conservative MP’s bill, C-323, is proposed legislation seeking to exempt psychotherapy and mental health counseling services from GST. Under current law, counseling therapists and psychotherapists are the only regulated mental health service providers who must remit tax on their work.

It's no secret too many Canadians have their mental health needs unmet. According to Health Canada statistics, nearly one-quarter of Canadians over the age of 15 self-report having unmet mental health needs.

An Angus Reid poll showed 54% of Canadians said their mental health worsened over the past couple of years, so there are more people than ever who may be reaching out.
Government should not leave unfair and inequitable financial burdens upon those seeking help or those offering their services to help. This bill is one tool that could help.

Lastly, a B.C. Conservative MP’s bill, C-313—brought forth by a former Crown prosecutor—is a proposed law that seeks to reform our bail system by raising the floor on which an individual will be eligible for bail after committing a crime with a firearm when they were already prohibited from possessing one.

In the last eight years, we've seen a shocking rise in violent crime, with a doubling of gang-related homicides since 2019. In Toronto, just last year more than half the people charged with gun murders were out on bail at the time of the crime they were charged for.

Putting the burden on repeat violent offenders to justify why they should continue to walk the streets is a common sense thing to do. I know from the many responses to my recent bail reform questionnaire that this is an issue people in our community are passionately concerned with.

Improving the public safety of our communities is a basic responsibility of government and this bill could help better achieve that.

These are just a few pieces of legislation I'm working on with my colleagues from across the country on behalf of our community, and I always welcome your feedback.

If you need assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected]

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


MP connecting with people, groups and organizations in the community

MP out and about in riding

With the House of Commons in Ottawa now in our spring session until the end of June, it was wonderful to spend as much time as possible during the recent constituency weeks at home, meeting with many residents one-on-one, attending activities and events and being out volunteering.

I wanted use this column to give a rundown of some of my activities in the community where I connect with people, which helps me advocate in Ottawa and to know what is important to constituents.

April marks some important religious dates celebrated in our community, including Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi and Ramadan, with many residents opening their hearts, wallets. It is also a time to help the less fortunate.

I was proud to lend a helping hand serving meals alongside many hard-working volunteers at the Kelowna Gospel Mission's Easter dinner and at the Mission Hall Easter pancake breakfast event. I was also happy to rally volunteers and help again at the annual Rutland community clean-up to keep neighbourhoods and parks clean.

Local not-for-profits serve on the front lines helping people and it’s important to me to connect with them. Organizations like Jewels of Hope are vital in helping vulnerable women. Groups like the Food for Thought Program, Central Okanagan Food Bank and Lake Country Food Bank feed an ever-increasing number of struggling families.

The KGH Foundation and the newly opened Vision Loss Rehabilitation Centre are working hard to ensure that those needing specialized medical care or services can receive them here at home.

With local businesses continuing to struggle with inflation and interest rate hikes. Connecting with entrepreneurs at events put on by the Uptown Rutland Business Association and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are vital for me to hear what issues are important to their members. I also sat down with the owners of a local brew pub and a local craft distillery to hear how the government's newest excise tax hikes will affect them, as well as other business challenges they have.

Similarly, it was great to see so many of our talented local artisans, growers and small business owners at the Kelowna Farmer’s and Crafter’s Market season opening, as well as at The Woman's Fair.

It was a privilege to be a guest speaker at the Lake Country Rotary Club and at a UBCO political science (event) as these are always great chances for me to give an update on my work and answer questions.

I also had the opportunity to connect with many childcare providers to discuss the effects of federal childcare legislation.

It was also wonderful to connect with some of our many cultural communities. There was a Ukrainian Easter Bazaar, Hindu events, the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club’s 57th anniversary and several Sikh community activities, including celebrating Vaisakhi. I also attended a lecture with Mehrsa Maali to hear about the challenges currently facing Iranian women in Iran.

Finally, one of the great honours I have in serving as your MP is recognizing residents for their acts of accomplishment, inspiration and service by presenting a parliamentary certificate and community service medallion.

During the last month, I've had the privilege to acknowledge locals Liz Borrett, the first woman of her age group to complete six major world marathons and consistently win in her age category, Marshall Orton, a local hero who helped save someone who had a diabetic emergency and Brad Hartridge, a RCMP officer who helped stranded children in Kelowna on Christmas eve.

I will be home as much as possible on weekends, so maybe I’ll see you out in the community.

Do not hesitate to reach out if you need assistance with federal programs or would like to let me know your thoughts, issues or ideas.

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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