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The Conservatives: How They Plan to Tackle Housing if Elected

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On September 20, Canadians are heading to the polls as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approved snap election.

While Canada’s next fixed-date election was set for October 2023, Trudeau called for an early election, saying he needed to ensure that voters approved his Liberal government’s plan to recover from the pandemic.

Running against him includes Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.

While the election is in the early days, the parties are proposing to tackle health care and the pandemic, spending and the economy, affordability and real estate, climate change, and Indigenous reconciliation, amongst other issues.

READ: Budget 2021: Liberals to Allocate $3.8B for Affordable Housing, Building, and Repair

How Erin O’Toole Plans to Tackle Housing if Elected

The Conservative Party of Canada kicked off the election campaign with a platform that includes easing housing affordability through a three-pronged approach that involves increasing housing supply, tackling money laundering and foreign investors, and making mortgages more affordable.

“It’s time to face the fact: We have a housing crisis in Canada. Affording a home — to rent, let alone to buy is slipping out of reach of Canadians across our country. The primary cause is that supply simply isn’t keeping up with demand. Governments have not let Canadians build enough housing to keep up with our growing population,” reads O’Toole’s housing plan.

“We need action — from all levels of government. We need to treat this like the crisis it is. Years of study and delay will just leave more and more Canadians and newcomers trapped in inadequate or insecure housing. We need shovels in the ground building enough housing not just to keep up with but to get ahead of population growth. We need to ensure that Canadians, first and foremost, can afford the housing that we do have, keeping out foreign speculators, corruption, and laundered money that force up prices. And we need to remove unnecessary roadblocks preventing Canadians from getting mortgages.”

Canada’s Conservatives say they have a plan to make housing more affordable, and here’s how they promise to accomplish this if elected:

Increase supply by implementing a plan to build 1 million homes in the next three years by:

  • Leverage federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply. We will:
    • Build public transit infrastructure that connects homes and jobs by bringing public transit to where people are buying homes; and
    • Require municipalities receiving federal funding for public transit to increase density near the funded transit;
  • Review the extensive real estate portfolio of the federal government – the largest property owner in the country with over 37,000 buildings – and release at least 15% for housing while improving the Federal Lands Initiative;
  • Incent developers to build the housing Canadians both want and need, by:
    • Encouraging Canadians to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing, something that is currently excluded; and
    • Exploring converting unneeded office space to housing.
  • Continue the Conservative commitment to Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples by enacting a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” strategy – long called for by Indigenous housing advocates, who have been ignored by this Liberal government;
    • Canada’s Conservatives are committed to putting a stop to federal paternalism and instead partnering with Indigenous communities and empowering Indigenous Peoples with the autonomy to meet their own housing needs.
  • Enhance the viability of using Community Land Trusts for affordable housing by creating an incentive for corporations and private landowners to donate property to Land Trusts for the development of affordable housing.
    • The incentive will mirror that which exists for donating land to ecological reserves.

Root out the corrupt activities that drive up real estate prices and put homeownership out of reach by:

  • Implement 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.
  • Establish a federal Beneficial Ownership Registry for residential property.
  • Closely examine the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which is doing important work, and quickly implement recommendations at the federal level.

To arrest and reverse the inflationary impacts of foreign buyers and speculation in the housing market, the Conservatives say they will ensure that housing in Canada is truly for Canadian citizens and residents first.

“We need a real estate market that serves the interests of everyday Canadians: the young family who needs more space for their kids, the recent university grad trying to find an apartment in the city, the tradesperson moving to a new community for work, the retired empty-nesters wanting to downsize without losing all their home equity to pay for an overpriced condo — all are underserved by Canada’s lack of affordable housing options.”

To achieve this, the Conservatives say they will:

  • Ban foreign investors not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes here for a two year period after which it will be reviewed.
  • Instead, encourage foreign investment in purpose-built rental housing that is affordable to Canadians.

To make mortgages more affordable, the Conservatives will:

  • Encourage a new market in seven- to ten-year mortgages to provide stability both for first-time home buyers and lenders, opening another secure path to homeownership for Canadians, and reducing the need for mortgage stress tests.
  • Remove the requirement to conduct a stress test when a homeowner renews a mortgage with another lender instead of only when staying with their current lender, as is the case today. This will increase competition and help homeowners access more affordable options.
  • Increase the limit on eligibility for mortgage insurance and index it to home price inflation, allowing those in high-priced real estate markets with less than a 20% down-payment an opportunity at home-ownership.
  • Fix the mortgage stress test to stop discriminating against small business owners, contractors, and other non permanent employees including casual workers.

Finally, the Conservatives say they will never tax Canadians’ capital gains on the sale of a principal residence.

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