By Harvey Oberfeld
Monday September the 5th, 2016
If you want to witness how out of touch our municipal, provincial and most of all, federal politicians are with us “common” folk … and the realities WE face … take a look at refugee placements.
I have NO objection to Canada welcoming legitimate Syrian (and other real refugees) fleeing death and chaos: I have written about that previously on this blog: HERE.
But let’s keep it real!
The news has reported FOR YEARS how outrageously high real estate values have risen in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and increasingly even deep into the Fraser Valley.
Even with the new foreign buyers’ tax, so many of our own young families are still priced well out of the market, and it has also placed enormous pressure on the metro Vancouver rental market: both availability and prices. The city’s rental vacancy rate is O.O6 % … in other words, almost zero!
This has REALLY HURT thousands of our poor, working poor, seniors, middle class individuals and families trying to survive in the metro Vancouver area. Even if they have jobs, the HIGH COST of housing … plus Hydro, cable, parking, ICBC, transit etc. that have been increasing much more than incomes … have been eating away more and more at our lives.
And just this week, virtually EVERY media outlet … radio, print, tv) was replete with stories about how thousands of new and returning Lower Mainland college/university students have been unable to find ANY accommodation at all or have had to pay exorbitant prices for tiny spaces … many of them no doubt illegal under municipal bylaws.
But clearly our politicians at ALL levels … ensconced in their own million-dollar homes … despite all their scripted sympathies, .are totally oblivious to reality the “people” around them are facing.
How else can you explain that, of the 13,000 Syrian refugees alone who have been welcomed to Canada so far, MORE THAN 1,000 have been settled in metro VANCOUVER?
And now, it has been announced ANOTHER 1,500 will arrive in B.C. between now and December … and MOST of those will also be settled in metro VANCIOUVER!
Are our politicians nuts? Incompetent? Or oblivious?
Where there’s nowhere to house them (DUH!!!!) , and where, according to one media report I saw, more than 1,000 refugees are already living FULL-TIME in hotels … at public expense! (Not even our own homeless are treated so magnanimously by our governments!)
By what logic …or right … is the federal government shipping ANYONE to live on public expense in the most expensive city in the country? And by what logic …or right … are our provincial and municipal “leaders” welcoming this and not shouting blue murder about it to Ottawa?
The excuse …. a VERY feeble one … offered up is that Vancouver has the necessary services to offer: ESL education, social support services to these needy refugees … and since there are already many already here, it will be easier for them to adapt.
Let me address the last point first: that’s EXACTLY WHAT’S WRONG with Canada’s immigration policy … we ENCOURAGE ghettos, where people can/will live for decades without absorbing into the larger community or even learning either official language of Canada!
And then we wonder why we have isolation and failures to integrate into our social fabric?
If we REALLY care about the future of these people, we should move them into smaller cities WITHOUT LARGE Syrian/Arab speaking communities: I’d bet they and their kids would then learn English (or French) and integrate into the Canadian fabric much faster than cramming them into expensive and/or substandard housing with “their own” in the Vancouver area!
As for availability of social services … that is just metro Vancouver elitist nonsense.
There IS life and there are good schools and hospitals and government and social services in MANY other BC and Canadian cities. In fact, having LIVED in Montreal, Saskatoon, Regina, Victoria and Ottawa myself, I found not only were there ANY services that locals, newcomers and even immigrants needed, they were usually provided faster and friendlier than in the huge, crowded impersonal Vancouver-area. And you could get them in any language too!
Our politicians here have to let OTTAWA know metro Vancouver is FULL for the time being … and tell them to detour new (and even some of those already here) to other cities able to absorb them … make them feel welcome … and not only provide services … but probably, a better likelihood of finding jobs as well!