IssuesHousing

Housing

First Published: Sep 25, 2019
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Monitored by: Naomi Shuman

Background

The growth of Canada’s population and the economy has led to an increase in demand for housing. Having access to adequate housing quality and supply is a key contributor to social, physical and emotional well-being. In some places, like Canada’s largest cities, new housing construction is not keeping pace with demand. In addition, the cost to purchase or rent housing has risen to a point where it is unaffordable for many families.

The number of occupied dwellings (including houses, condo units and apartments) has increased by 43% from 9.9 million in 1990 to 14.1 million in 2015.  In Canada, the vast majority of residential property owners were individuals and were residents of Canada, with Ontario having the highest share of resident owners (95.5 percent), followed by British Columbia (92.7 percent) and Nova Scotia (92.1 percent). In 2018 in both Ontario and British Columbia, 84.8 percent of owners in each province owned a single property. Millennial owners (those born from 1980 to 1999) account for a small share of residential property owners, just 1 in 7 in Ontario and British Columbia. In 2018 in both Ontario and British Columbia, about 23 percent of individual resident property owners were immigrants. Most of these immigrant owners were immigrants who arrived from 1980 to 2008.  

In 2017, the Trudeau Government launched the country’s National Housing Strategy. The Strategy was a $40 billion, 10-year plan to help Canadians access housing that is both affordable and meets their needs. The Strategy brings together public, private and non-profit sectors to create more affordable housing. As part of the Strategy, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund was launched, which is expected to help build 60,000 new units and repair or renew 240,000 existing affordable and community housing units. In addition, seven provinces and territories have signed bilateral housing agreements under the new multilateral Housing Partnership Framework. These agreements will see $7.7 billion in new federal funding flow to provinces and territories over the next ten years to support and address regional priorities and community housing.

Current Status

Prime Minister Trudeau and his Government took steps to make housing more affordable with Budget 2019 by putting in place efforts to increase the housing supply and strengthen rules and compliance. Budget 2019 introduced measures to make housing more affordable for first-time home buyers through the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive and increasing the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit to $35,000 from $25,000.

Budget 2019 includes measures to increase housing supply to try to ensure that housing prices will grow at a more moderate pace, making homeownership and renting more affordable and accessible. The Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which focusses on building 42,500 new housing units in areas of low supply, received an additional $10 billion in financing over nine years and extends the program until 2027-28. The Housing Supply Challenge received $300 million in funding to provide opportunities to communities and other groups to propose initiatives that break down barriers liming new housing. The Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability received funding to provide advice on increasing the housing supply.

Budget 2019 increases fairness related to housing by strengthening the rules and compliance in the housing market, by tackling tax non-compliance and money laundering in the housing market.

Liberal

As described above.

Conservatives

Would encourage more new housing by reducing red tape that delays projects. Will develop a more flexible housing strategy that considers regional differences. Will reduce costs for homebuyers.

NDP

The Liberals have not sufficiently addressed the housing issue and we are now in the midst of a national housing crisis. The New Democrat government will create 500,000 units of quality affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of it complete over the next five years. This plan will start with a federal investment of $5 billion in additional funding in the first year and a half. In addition, we will create fast-start funds to start construction of co-ops, social and non-profit housing. Will also remove the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units. Will assist young families by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax credit to $1,500 for closing costs and re-introduce the 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. Will put in a 15 percent foreign buyers tax on residential property purchases by foreign corporations and people who are not citizens or permanent residents.

Green Party

A Green government will make housing a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and permanent residents. It will use two different mechanisms (direct investments and financing) to enhance the federal government’s contribution to meeting the housing needs of Canadians. It will eliminate the first-time home buyers grant and increase the National Housing Co-investment Fund by $750 million for new builds and the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance. It will appoint a Minister of Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy and establish a target of 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units for the next 10 years. It will allow the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support provincial and municipal housing projects, both new and existing and provide financing to non-profit housing organizations to build and restore low-income housing. It will refocus the core mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporate (CMHC) to support the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing and will restore the tax incentive for building purpose-built rental housing.

People's Party

Bloc Quebecois

September 25, 2019
Naomi Shuman

Andrew Scheer also announced a refundable Green Homes Tax Credit for homeowners to help Canadians make their homes more environmentally friendly for tax years 2020 and 2021. The 20 per cent refundable tax credit could be claimed by anyone who spends between $1,000 and $20,000 on energy-saving home renovations like installing a high-efficiency furnace, replacing doors or window and upgrading ventilation. The measure would allow Canadians to save up to $3,800 on renovations every year. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office this program will cost about $900 million each year.

Justin Trudeau promise Canadian access to up to $40,000 interest-free loans to help them retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient and safer from severe weather like floods and wildfires caused by climate change. The program would offer homeowners and landlords a free energy audit and loan for eligible energy efficient renovations. They estimate the program would help to retrofit 1.5 million homes over five years. Canadians who buy new homes that are certified as zero-emissions would also be given up to $5,000 in a Net Zero Homes Grant. The Liberals have indicated that the costs associated with Net Zero Home Grant and retrofits would be financed by drawing down on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s shareholder equity.

The Liberals are also proposing to create a national flood insurance program and to provide additional assistance to help homeowners at highest risk of repeat flooding with potential relocation.

September 23, 2019
Naomi Shuman

Andrew Scheer said if elected be would make it cheaper for Canadians to buy a home. The CPC would allow people to take out 30-year mortgages to help lower monthly payments and would ease the stress test on new mortgages and remove the requirement for mortgage renewals. A Conservative government would make surplus federal real estate available for development. It would also launch an inquiry into money laundering in the real estate sector.

September 18, 2019
Naomi Shuman

A Green government will make housing a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and permanent residents. It will use two different mechanisms (direct investments and financing) to enhance the federal government’s contribution to meeting the housing needs of Canadians. It will eliminate the first-time home buyers grant and increase the National Housing Co-investment Fund by $750 million for new builds and the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance. It will appoint a Minister of Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy and establish a target of 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units for the next 10 years. It will allow the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support provincial and municipal housing projects, both new and existing and provide financing to non-profit housing organizations to build and restore low-income housing. It will refocus the core mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporate (CMHC) to support the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing and will restore the tax incentive for building purpose-built rental housing.

September 13, 2019
Naomi Shuman

The Liberal Party has promised to tweak the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive if re-elected. The tweak would apply to buyers in high-priced markets of Victoria, Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area with a maximum household income of $150,000 (up from $120,000 in the rest of the country). In addition, in these markets, the mortgage value plus incentive amount could total up to five time their income (up from four time in all other markets). With these changes to the program, the maximum purchase price possible would be $789.473 in Victoria, Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area (up from $505,263 in the rest of the country).

The Liberals also announced a 1% annual vacancy and speculation tax on residential properties owned by non-resident, non-Canadians. This tax would be in addition to the existing foreign buyers’ taxes in places like B.C. and Ontario.

September 5, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Bank of Canada holds rates steady but flags global trade concerns.  The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent Wednesday, while warning that the U.S.-China trade conflict is having a more damaging impact on global growth than previously thought.

“As the US-China conflict has escalated, world trade has contracted and business investment has weakened,” the bank stated Wednesday in a news release. “This is weighing more heavily on global economic momentum than the bank had projected in [July].”

Domestically, the bank noted that Canada’s second-quarter growth was strong and exceeded the bank’s most recent forecast. Wednesday’s release pointed to stronger energy production and housing activity as contributing factors.

August 13, 2019
Naomi Shuman

A new National Bank of Canada report suggests that housing affordability has improved across Canada. However, houses in Vancouver or Toronto still remain out of reach for many buyers. While affordability may have improved, a new Abacus poll on national public opinion of issues facing Canada found that 90% of Canadians see rising costs of living as a serious problem.

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