Federal Election Promises Fall Short of What is Needed for ‘Significant, Long-Lasting Impact’ on Housing
It’s clear that tackling housing affordability is a forefront campaign focus for each major party in the upcoming federal election.
And while several of the promised policies may sound great in theory, many argue that the parties’ pledges fall short of providing any real solution to Canada’s housing crisis.
Without any concrete plans to turn the campaign promises into action, the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) worries there won’t be enough to increase the supply of new homes in Canada.
While the major parties have pledged to build more homes and make purchasing easier for Canadians, BCREA says without detailed plans to turn those promises into action that will increase supply quickly, campaign promises will lead to “municipal bottlenecks, failed policy and disappointed homebuyers.”
Each major party has released its own housing platform in the lead-up to voting day — Monday, September 20. If re-elected, the Liberals have promised to build more homes, help renters become homeowners through $1 billion in loans and grants, but also to temporarily ban new foreign buyers and to ban blind bidding — a campaign promise that’s part of a larger new Homebuyers’ Bill of Rights.
Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party 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.
Similarly, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh released a platform that includes making housing more affordable for families by getting big money out of Canada’s housing market while helping young Canadians and families buy a home they can afford, and building 500,000 new affordable homes in ten years.
“We are pleased to see the discussions around housing affordability take center [sic] stage during the election campaign,” says BCREA Chief Executive Officer Darlene Hyde.
“However, what we’ve seen promised so far falls short of what is needed to make a significant, long-lasting impact. It is important for our new government to make creating a comprehensive housing strategy focused on increasing supply an immediate top priority.”
BCREA says while many of the measures proposed so far focus on increasing consumer flexibility and purchasing power, and the Liberals and Conservatives have “lofty goals” to build more market homes, neither of the parties addresses how they will do so in the face of significant barriers.
To properly increase supply, BCREA says a federal housing strategy needs to be established. The strategy could incentivize municipalities to speed up development approvals that are getting bogged down by public hearings and ultimately delaying vital developments — a move the association says is key to scaling up the number of units being built in the relatively short term.
While BCREA says it does support assistance for home buyers and the creation of non-market housing, it says without any detailed plans on increasing supply across the housing spectrum, these promised measures will likely be met with disappointment as hopeful homebuyers will return to a frenzied market in which demand outweighs supply, putting further upward pressure on prices.
“We know through our assessment of the current and historical market conditions that there just aren’t enough listings to satisfy demand,” says BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson.
“To truly improve housing affordability and help British Columbians and Canadians get in homes, increasing supply is where the focus needs to be. Working with municipalities is essential in achieving this.”
With the federal election under a month away, let’s hope that the major parties actually have comprehensive plans and strategies in place that will help bring the critically needed housing supply to those who need it most. Otherwise, we may see the homeownership dream for many Canadians fall flat.