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Okanagan MP is now in charge of scrutinizing the nation's spending

FILE PHOTO - Conservative MP incumbent and candidate Dan Albas at his West Kelowna headquarters.

Okanagan MP Dan Albas has a lofty new role among the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, tasked with keeping the nation’s public spending in check. 

The MP for Central Okanagan - Similkameen - Nicola got the high profile position of finance critic for the official opposition.

And it comes at a time when “inflation is hitting Canadians harder than ever before,” he said.

Albas says he’ll be focusing on the rising costs of everything from gasoline and groceries to housing.

People feeling the pinch the most are seniors and those on fixed incomes, he said, as well as young people who are feeling permanently locked out of the housing market.

“A lot of people unhappy with the state of affairs and I understand why.”

READ MORE: Conservative Dan Albas wins fourth term in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

For housing, he says there is a “supply mismatch” in the market.

“People stopped building after the Great Recession and we’ve been behind it ever since,” he said.

To help stimulate the supply of housing, Albas says there are some easy change the government can make.

For somebody investing in a duplex or a fourplex home, the buyer has to pay GST on the builder’s price – “and all of us would expect that.” But then the buyers who purchase the units from the investor also have to pay GST.

“That’s not how you build more affordable and dense housing, it’s just more revenue for government.”

He said the Liberal government’s plan to ban foreign buyers will only be applied at the discretion of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, and that it’s full of loopholes.

READ MORE: ALBAS: Needs of rural Canadians

Albas is critical of the federal government’s promise to introduce a new tax-free first home savings account. While it puts effort towards the issue, Albas said it won't be very helpful for young people who don’t have a disposable $8,000 to put into a bank account every year.

The ruling party wants young Canadians to think if they work hard and place their money into this savings account, they’ll be okay, Albas said.

”That just isn’t the way this market works right now.”

The Liberals have given first-time homebuyers a $1,500 break by increasing a tax credit, but that won't even pay legal fees, he said.

“They oversell what some of these measures will do," he said.

Beyond the role of the federal government, Albas said the supply of housing is also choked because of issues in the private sector, like construction companies struggling to find workers, and municipal governments making it a lengthy process to obtain a development permit. Some builders in metropolitan areas are waiting up to five years to be able to complete projects, he said.

It’s possible to cut some of the red tape, but Albas said it’s up to the provinces to decide how municipal governments should operate, and that in B.C., those changes would have to be made by David Eby, Attorney General and Minister for Housing.

READ MORE: Albas supported O'Toole, other Conservative MPs in Kamloops, Okanagan won't say

Albas’s new role as finance critic means more meetings and more work, but “I like to participate at this level,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed working on the finance committee.”

Before his appointment to Shadow Minister for Finance, Albas' previous role in the Conservative Party was Associate Shadow Minister of Finance and Housing Inflation.

He was chosen for the role after Conservative MP Ed Fast stepped down. Fast resigned after he criticized their colleague Pierre Poilievre, who is running in the party’s leadership contest.

And Poilievre was Fast’s predecessor before stepping down to run for party leader.

The party will select its next leader on Sept. 10.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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