Canadians will elect a new government September 20. Each of Canada’s major parties has published a platform that describes the priorities it would implement if elected.
To help voters understand how the parties compare on important consumer protection issues, Consumers Council of Canada will publish platform excerpts. The issues selected were identified by the Council’s Public Interest Network (PIN) as the most important current consumer protection matters in recent questionnaires. Comparisons on other policy priorities are available from the CBC and elsewhere.
Topic: Affordable Housing
Sharply rising housing prices have made it difficult for aspiring homeowners to achieve their home ownership goals. It is a commonly held view that price rises are partially the result of foreign speculation in the Canadian market.
A new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account will allow “Canadians under 40 to save up to $40,000 towards their first home, and to withdraw it tax-free to put towards their first home purchase.”
The plan is to “build or revitalize an additional 250,000 homes over 4 years. On top of the 285,000 ones currently being built each year, this will mean nearly 1.4 million homes will be built, preserved or revitalized by 2025-26.”
A Home Buyers Bill of Rights will ban blind bidding, establish a legal right to a home inspection, require real estate agents to disclose when they are involved in both sides of a sale, ensure lenders offer mortgage deferrals for up to 6 months in the event of job loss or other major life event and “ensure total transparency on the history of recent house sale prices on title searches.”
An anti-flipping tax will require properties to be held for at least 12 months “to reduce speculative demand in the marketplace and help to cool excessive price growth.”
As a crackdown on foreign ownership, the Liberals propose banning foreign money from purchasing non-recreational residential properties for the next two years, “unless this purchase is confirmed to be for future employment or immigration in the next two years.”
To boost supply, the Conservatives plan to build 1 million homes in the next three years, though a combination of measures, including releasing at least 15% of the government’s 37,000 buildings for housing, incenting developers to build housing, and “leverage federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply”.
To combat corrupt activities that “drive up real estate prices and put home ownership out of reach,” they pledge to make comprehensive changes to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, and give FINTRAC, law enforcement and prosecutors the tools necessary to identify, halt and prosecute money-laundering in Canadian real estate markets.
They propose a two-year ban on foreign investors who are not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes, and will instead “encourage foreign investment in purpose-built rental housing that is affordable to Canadians.”
The NDP plan pledges to create at least 500,000 units of quality affordable housing in the next 10 years, half of that within five years. This will be done in partnership with provinces and municipalities, and “build capacity for social, community and affordable housing providers, to provide rental support for co-ps and meet environmental energy efficiency goals.”
To curb speculative buying, it proposes a “20% Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents”. It will also work with provinces to “create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about who owns properties, and require reporting of suspicious transactions in order to help find and stop money laundering.”