VICTORIA, B.C. — Renters who are the victim of violence at their home are one step closer to having the freedom to break their lease and seek safety today after the B.C. Greens’ amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act saw broad tripartisan support from NDP and Liberals at its second reading before the House.
“I was very proud to stand today in the second reading of the Private Member’s Bill I introduced on March 7th. I thank government for calling this bill for debate and for their feedback on it over the last two months. We’ve gone through many drafts of this bill with legislative drafters making sure every word was just right and the policy intent clear and strong,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
It is unprecedented in B.C. to have opposition party Private Member’s Bills move through debate in the legislature. Later today, B.C. Green caucus’ Business Corporations Amendment Act is expected to be the first ever of its kind to pass third reading. The B.C. Green caucus hope to see the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act pass this session but are committed to seeing it through fall 2019, if necessary.
“Although simple in its structure, this bill will have a significant impact on the people who need it,” said Weaver.
“For people who are assaulted in their home, the implications of that shift - from a home to the scene of a crime - are profound,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “A space that was once a comfort can come to feel unsafe. Worst case scenario, the space is fraught with risk of a repeat assault or death...Best case, it is filled with nightmares and panic attacks.
“Some victims are able to reclaim their space, but many others will need to move to start again. At the very least, they deserve the right to choose which option is best for them,” Furstenau said. “I am proud that our office has been able to advance a bill that will give survivors the freedom to seek safety, security, and the space needed to heal.”
This bill expands on the existing family violence provisions introduced by the BC Liberal government in 2015 and was drafted and amended in consultation and cooperation with the legislative drafters and the B.C. NDP. Minister Selina Robinson and her staff in particular were instrumental in assisting with seeing this legislation through the drafting process and making it before the House.
“B.C. Green Caucus believes updating current legislation or drafting new bills to advance protections for women and other vulnerable groups is simply good governance,” said MLA Weaver, “whether it's workplace protections like the 2017 bill preventing employers from requiring select employees to wear high-heeled shoes, or the 2016 Post-Secondary Sexual Violence Policies Act.”
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