Canada’s first minister of middle-class prosperity made a stop in Victoria on Wednesday and discussed quality of life and affordability with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
After meeting with B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier participated in a round table discussion with Helps and other community stakeholders to hear their thoughts and concerns about quality of life and well-being in the region.
Helps said affordable housing, lack of child care spaces and the doctor shortage were some of the issues brought up during the meeting and said they all have an impact on the workforce as well.
“We’ve got the lowest unemployment rate in the country right now, which on the face of it is very positive, but businesses are limited in expanding or starting new lines of business because they can’t find employees,” Helps said. “Employees can’t find affordable housing.”
Fortier said building on the Canada child benefit – which brings $47 million into the region annually – the ministry is asking what else can be done to help families make ends meet.
Victoria has solutions to these issues, Helps noted, it just needs federal partners who can invest in them without many strings attached. Prevention programs, particularly with youth, are also needed according to Fortier.
Fortier said having a strong middle-class will help grow the economy so finding ways to reduce inequalities is a must.
Fortier’s stop in Victoria is part of her quality of life tour – a tour with the purpose of better understanding of what quality of life priorities are in different communities.
She also stopped in Kelowna, Vernon and Surrey and will be headed to Vancouver.
Fortier said four themes discussed during pre-budget 2020 consultations were strengthening the middle class, climate change, relationships with Indigenous peoples and keeping Canadians safe and healthy. She said it was heard “loud and clear” that the government needs to focus on its middle class, but was unable to speculate how investments into this issue will affect the 2020 federal budget.
“We know we still have work to do,” Fortier said. “That’s why we had that conversation today, to focus on what else we should be addressing.”