Olsen calls on B.C. NDP to respond to Downtown Eastside humanitarian crisis

August 11, 2022

VANCOUVER B.C. –B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) released the following statement in response to the humanitarian crisis ongoing at the tent city in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside:

“What is happening in the Downtown Eastside is the result of our governments’ utter failure to provide for the basic human rights to a safe place to sleep for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Governments have failed to deliver dignified support for people from lack of infrastructure for personal hygiene to housing and safety.

“When I was in the Downtown Eastside last month, I witnessed people resorting to defecating in the streets and bathing in public ponds, while garbage accumulates in the streets. Government-funded housing has been wholly inadequate; we have heard people would rather sleep on the streets because they feel safer there than in SROs. 

“In Question Period on October 18, 2021, I asked then-housing minister David Eby if his government believed housing was a human right. He responded that the government does see ‘housing as a human right.’ Eby continued, ‘That shows up in a number of aspects of our work, from our response to the encampments to the Speculation Tax… these are really important principles. We stand by them.’ (Hansard record)

“It is therefore all the more appalling that we have not even heard a word about the Downtown Eastside from Premier John Horgan, former housing minister David Eby, current interim housing minister Murray Rankin, local MLA Melanie Mark or any other member of the B.C. NDP government caucus.

“Vancouver fire chief Karen Fry has identified a very real fire risk that could have horrifying consequences. But all levels of government, including the B.C. NDP, have made choices that have allowed this situation to deteriorate into a humanitarian crisis. This includes using force to disperse people from Hastings without giving them a safe place to go. If the B.C. NDP believes housing is a human right as David Eby has said, they have utterly betrayed that principle.

“The B.C. NDP needs to immediately and urgently step up with temporary infrastructure that provides for people’s basic needs, while creating long-term supports and solutions. Billions of dollars have been made available to BC Housing - it’s time to use it.”

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