Conservative and NDP promises focus on affordable housing

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Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole released the Conservative housing plan on the weekend, focusing on the national housing “crisis” and detailing a two-year trial ban on foreign buyers who don’t plan to live in Canada.

“We have a housing crisis in Canada,” O’Toole said in a statement. “The supply of homes — to own as well as to rent — is not keeping up with our growing population and too many foreign investors are sitting on properties as investments.”

His plan also includes requiring municipalities receiving federal funding for public transit to increase density near the transit lines, encouraging Canadians to invest in rental homes by allowing them to defer capital gains when the rental property is sold and releasing a portion of federally owned properties for homes.

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The Conservatives’ policies also include encouraging foreign investment in affordable, purpose-built rental housing for Canadians and changes to mortgage rules making it easier for families to buy a home.

O’Toole said the plan will help build a million homes over the next three years.

Erin O’Toole
Erin O’Toole

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to offer relief from soaring housing prices on Saturday, promising thousands of dollars in subsidies for those struggling to keep pace with payments on rising rental costs.

Singh’s pledge of $5,000 in annual rent subsidies came in downtown Toronto, a riding-rich district where the New Democrats are hoping to win seats away from the Liberals and where the NDP leader says average rents have skyrocketed by more than $4,000 in the past six years.

Singh also said his party would impose strict rules on Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation loans in an effort to stop so-called “renovictions.” For-profit companies, he said, have been taking advantage of loans from the federal housing agency to purchase buildings, renovate them and then jack up the rent, forcing those who can’t afford the new rates to find somewhere else to live.

“Buying is out of the question for so many people, even renting has become so difficult,” Singh said.

“Justin Trudeau’s allowed this to happen, allow this crisis to get worse, it’s gotten worse while he’s been in power and the CMHC is being used to ‘renovict’ people.”

A real estate economist interviewed by Canadian Press said transferring cash to those with low-income is better than just building affordable housing, noting a subsidy can be allocated for other basic expenses, however, $5,000 might be too high.

The Liberal government kicked off a 10-year, multibillion-dollar national housing strategy in 2018-19. The parliamentary budget officer recently found program delays at CMHC, expired community housing deals with the provinces and a shift toward more expensive affordable homes have limited the impact of the strategy.

Singh says an NDP government would only allow CMHC loans to be used on affordable housing rather than renoviction projects, adding Canadians shouldn’t have to compete with foreign investors when buying homes.

“I don’t want them to come to Canada. I don’t want them here,” said Singh, reiterating his pledge of a 20 per cent foreign buyers’ tax on the sale of homes to individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

With files from The Canadian Press

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