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Election 2019: What the parties are saying about housing

(Part 1 of 2)

Housing affordability is a key issue in this election. The major political parties are promising policy or tax changes to make home ownership more accessible if they win on October 21.

In order to help you cut through the noise – and in turn, help you help your clients do the same – we’ve summarized four of the parties’ housing platforms below.

What the major parties are saying (so far):

  Anti-Money Laundering:
Launch an inquiry in the real estate sector and work with industry partners to root out practices the party believes inflate housing prices.
Anti-Money Laundering:
Work with provinces to create a public beneficial ownership registry to increase transparency about ownership and require reporting of suspicious transactions to help find and stop money laundering.

Energy-Efficient Homes:
Retrofit 1.5 million homes over the next 5 years by giving interested homeowners a free energy audit and interest-free loan of up to $40k for retrofits based on audit results, with a cash incentive of $250-750 going to those who cut energy waste.  

Provide a Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5k for newly-built homes that are certified zero-emissions.
Energy-Efficient Homes:
Create a two-year Green Homes Tax Credit for homeowners to help pay for energy-saving renos. Canadians would be eligible to receive a 20% refundable credit on their income tax for green improvements to their homes of over $1k and up to $20k.
Energy-Efficient Homes:
Set a target of retrofitting all housing stock by 2050, by providing low-interest loans repayable through energy savings to pay for home upgrades like insulation, windows, heat pumps, and other renewable technologies.

Improve the National Building Code to ensure by 2030 every new building built in Canada is net-zero energy ready.
Energy-Efficient Homes:
Finance building retrofits and installation of renewable energy technologies such as solar and heat pumps through direct grants, zero-interest loans and repayments based on energy/cost savings.  

Change the national building code to require new construction to meet net-zero emission standards by 2030 and work with the provinces to enact it.
First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:
This program provides Canadians with up to 10% off the purchase price of their first home.  

Fully implement the program and expand it to help people in the greater Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria regions by allowing homes valued up to $789K to qualify.
    First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:
Eliminate this program because the party feels it has been criticized for exacerbating housing speculation and commodification.

Foreign Ownership/Market Control:
The party believes this is driving up housing costs and want to address it by introducing a consistent, national, annual speculation and vacancy tax of 1% for non-resident, non-Canadians modelled after BC’s tax.  

Track foreign ownership and speculation by ensuring StatsCan, CMHC and the CRA have the tools to do so.  

Work with provinces to establish a consistent national approach to beneficial ownership transparency.
  Foreign Ownership/Market Control:
Put in place a Foreign Buyer’s tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  

Introduce a 15% foreign buyers’ tax on purchases of residential property by foreign corporations or people who are not citizens or permanent residents.

  Home Buyer’s Tax Credit: Double the credit to $1,500 to help people with closing costs.  
  Housing Supply:
Make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase the supply of housing.

Housing Supply:
Create affordable housing by working with provinces, municipalities and other stakeholders.   Spur construction of affordable homes by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on new affordable rental units.   Provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and connections to local resources, and ease access to financing by offering CMHC backed co-ownership mortgages.
Housing Supply:
Re-focus the core mandate of CMHC on supporting the development of affordable, non-market and co-op housing, as opposed to its current priority of supporting Canadian lenders to de-risk investment in housing ownership.  

The party believes many housing markets are currently overvalued and Canada’s homeownership rates are among the highest in the world. Individual home ownership should not be the pre-occupation of a public service agency and a national housing strategy.

Examples of initiatives to focus assistance where the party feels it is needed:
– legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental human right
– appoint a Minister of Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy so it meets the needs of each province

  Mortgage Amortization:
Increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time homebuyers to lower monthly payments.
Mortgage Amortization:
Re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time homebuyers.
  Mortgage Stress Test:
Ensure first-time homebuyers aren’t unnecessarily prevented from accessing mortgages and work with OSFI to remove the stress test from mortgage renewals to give homeowners more options.  
Read the full Liberal platform here. More details on first-time home buyers and affordable housing proposals here. Read the Conservatives’ news release here.
Read the full NDP platform here.

Read the full Greens’ platform here.

Note: The political parties and individual candidates representing their parties make ongoing commitments and announcements throughout the election campaign. Therefore, both this table and CREA’s REAL Ideas website should not be considered to be complete and up-to-date.

For more election information:

  • Visit CREA’s REAL Ideas website for ideas on how you can use social media to provide input to the major political parties/candidates.
  • Attend a free, all-candidates’ meeting supported by the Board’s Government Relations committee volunteers to learn about the candidates in your riding. Note: The venue has changed for the Surrey-White Rock meeting on Oct. 4.

In part two of “What the parties are saying about housing,” we’ll profile how the parties’ campaign promises regarding housing compare to what organized real estate THINKS the government should be doing. Spoiler alert… most are pitching something that would help affordability, but none go the distance.