VANCOUVER — British Columbia's efforts to fight money laundering are expected to be front and centre today at a special meeting of federal cabinet ministers and their provincial counterparts to discuss national strategies for stemming the problem.
The B.C. government says the meeting in Vancouver will highlight new legislative changes already underway in B.C. that could be replicated across the country, including laws to end hidden ownership.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair have scheduled a news conference after the meeting to provide details on Ottawa's plans to combat both money laundering and terrorist financing.
The province launched a public inquiry into money laundering in May after three independent reviews revealed that billions of dollars are laundered each year through the B.C.'s casinos, real estate market and other sectors.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James says in a statement that money laundering has distorted the province's economy, fuelled the overdose crisis and driven up housing prices.
But she says criminals don't stop at provincial borders.
"This is a national issue, and strong action is required from the federal government and all the provinces to combat money laundering in our country," James says.
Attorney General David Eby says the province is the leading jurisdiction for overdose deaths, luxury car sales and out-of-control real estate — all of which have been linked to a "cancerous" transnational money laundering problem.
"At this summit, we will have one message: Without a significant federal financial commitment to increased law and tax enforcement in B.C., hard-working families who play by the rules will continue to be at a disadvantage to criminals and cheats," Eby says.