Homeowners deserve answers about their private information

Andrew Wilkinson at the Terrace Chamber of Commerce's event in Terrace June 5, 2018. Photography by John Lehmann

VICTORIA (January 29, 2019) – BC Liberal Finance Co-Critics Shirley Bond and Tracy Redies have written to the B.C. Privacy Commissioner with concerns that the personal and private information of homeowners could be at risk under the NDP government’s declaration process for the new Speculation Tax.

“We feel it’s necessary to bring this matter to the attention of the Privacy Commissioner because of the botched roll-out of the NDP’s new Speculation and Vacancy Tax,” said Bond. “Just a few weeks ago, 1.6 million homeowners suddenly learned they must prove to the government they are not real estate speculators. Now all these people are uncertain about what vital personal information they have to disclose. We have been contacted by numerous homeowners who have received conflicting advice from the government call centre as to whether or not a social insurance number is required to qualify for an exemption from the tax. This is unacceptable and is indicative of tax policy being made up on the fly.”

“Our overall concern is what private information is being collected by the government and what guarantees are in place to protect homeowners from having their data accessed by other branches of government or agencies,” said Redies. “We are talking about the privacy rights of homeowners, most of whom are hardworking British Columbians using their home as a principal residence.”

Homeowners’ concerns are amplified by the government’s intentions to establish a “new, publicly accessible registry of who owns real estate in British Columbia” that will provide tax auditors, law enforcement officials and federal and provincial regulators with access to information on who owns property in the province. The registry was announced by Finance Minister Carole James as a part of the NDP’s 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability.

Letter to Privacy Commissioner below:

 

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