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Exemptions to be offered for foreign buyers tax

Last Updated Jan 29, 2017 at 3:12 pm PST

BC Premier Christy Clark (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Premier Christy Clark says the foreign buyers tax will not apply to people with work permits.

She made the announcement while reacting to the news of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban at the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade.

“We believe the people who are seeking refuge around the world should be able to find a safe haven here in British Columbia. We believe the best and the brightest should be able to come to British Columbia. We’re going to lift the foreign owners tax on people who have work permits, who are paying taxes and living in British Columbia as a way to encourage more people to come,” Clark says.

“And we are going to fight to make sure that people who are dual citizens of Canada who might hold a passport from Iran or Iraq or Syria can continue to travel.”

Clark says the foreign buyer legislation is malleable and they can change it to exempt groups of people. She says those are the values Canadians, and British Columbians, hold dear and those are the values she’ll fight for.

“I will say this: here we are in a celebration of diversity today, we should be very proud to be Canadians on a day like this.”

Meantime, NDP Housing Critic David Eby says people with work permits should have never been subject to the 15 per cent tax in the first place.

“Well I think it was such a dumb thing to do that enough employers went to the premier that she finally had to change her mind,” says Eby. “The frustration that I have is that took seven months to to happen when it was such a common sense thing and it was hurting people that weren’t the point of the tax.”

Eby says the next step should be looking at reimbursing holders of work permits who have already paid the tax.

The 15 per cent tax was implemented last year as a measure to cool Vancouver’s housing market.

Numbers from the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board indicate there was a 39 percent drop in home sales year over year last month.