The National Housing Debate took place in Ottawa on Sunday, and Canadians got one final chance to hear representatives from the five major political parties outline their stance on issues related to housing and home affordability before the October 21st election.
It’s no secret that the party representatives have wildly different approaches to tackling housing issues, and that was made even clearer during the debate.
Here is a succinct look at each party’s housing platforms:
Conservative Party of Canada
The Tories would loosen stress test stringency and eliminate it for renewals to prevent banks from gouging borrowers with uncompetitive rates. They would also allow first-time buyers 30-year amortizations to lower their monthly payments. Finally, they would set aside surplus federal lands for housing developments to help with supply constraints and deeply investigate money laundering.
Liberal Party of Canada
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was introduced and became operational early September. If re-elected, the Liberals would expand it to allow buyers in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria to qualify for up to $769,000 instead of $505,000 like the rest of the country. The program allows the government to share in equity gains—and losses. Additionally, the Liberals have also promised a 1% speculation tax on non-residents and non-Canadians.
The NDP has a list of over 30 promises to make housing more affordable. One of them is developing 500,000 affordable units over 10 years, $5 billion of which will be spent within the first 1.5 years of the party’s rule. To build co-ops, social and non-profit housing, the NDP has promised “fast-start funds” to ensure construction commences as soon as possible rather than years down the line. The federal GST/HST will be waived on affordable housing construction to stimulate development, and it will re-introduce 30-year amortizations to lower monthly payments.
The boldest move is the 15% foreign buyer tax it would impose on non-residents and non-Canadians who own housing anywhere in the country.
The NDP has also said it will double the Home Buyers Tax Credit to $1,500, and facilitate co-housing through funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The Greens have proposed legislating housing as a fundamental human right, and they seek to change CMHC’s mandate and have it focus on developing affordable non-market housing and co-ops.
The Green Party sees co-living as a cornerstone solution to Canada’s growing housing crisis. It will also create a Canada Co-Op Housing Strategy to encourage co-op living and eliminate grants for first-time purchasers. The Greens will fund non-profit housing organizations for seniors, low-income families and special-needs individuals. Restoring tax incentives for rental housing construction and conceiving of a new tax credit for gifted lands, the Green Party believes, will spur plentiful affordable housing.
They also proposed building 25,000 new housing units and renovating 15,000 more every year for a decade. Housing co-investment will see an increase of $750m for new builds, and the same amount of money will be added into the Canada Housing Benefit to help 125,000 households with rent.
People’s Party of Canada
Maxime Bernier’s supports the notion that lowering immigration means there will be less demand for housing, which would theoretically close the chasm between supply and demand.
Bernier intends to address housing indirectly: a 15% income tax for Canadians earning between $15,001 and $100,000, and 25% on anything larger, will free monies that could go towards housing. The PPC has also proposed abolishing the capital gains tax.