This article was written and submitted by Andrew Graham, co-founder & CEO of Borrowell and a board member of Fintechs Canada.

“You should really think about buying a home soon. It’s a great investment.” For decades, this was sound advice to give a young person. Today, it sounds painfully out of touch as housing ownership has become unattainable for nearly everyone not already a homeowner. Indeed, young Canadians often find themselves trapped in a hamster wheel, chasing the now unattainable dream of home ownership.

Between rising rent increases and overall cost of living, renters are often paying the biggest price for Canada’s housing crisis. For example, not only are rents higher than ever before but they typically don’t contribute to building credit history, the way mortgage payments do for homeowners. Aside from Borrowell’s Rent Advantage program, there are very few ways for people to boost their credit score using timely rent payments.

In his first pre-budget announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau focused on the challenges facing renters, noting that it’s fundamentally unfair that a homeowner paying $2,000 a month for a mortgage builds their credit history, while a neighbour making the same monthly payment in rent does not.

We strongly agree that consumers should have the right to opt in to reporting rent payments, and it was heartening to hear a service we launched highlighted by the Prime Minister. However, an essential piece of the puzzle was missing from his speech: rent reporting doesn’t work without open banking.

A simple way to look at open banking is as a framework that allows individuals and businesses to securely share their financial information between platforms and with third-party providers. Imagine you pay your rent through one financial institution, your car through another and have a credit card through a third. Open banking would allow you to manage all of those accounts through one platform (an app for example) and give other parties secure access to the data you choose to share. It gives financial control back to the consumer.

The federal government has a real opportunity to bridge the gap between homeowners and renters in the next year. There has been no shortage of background work leading up to Tuesday’s budget. We’ve had an open banking czar, expert panels, steering committees and working groups – which I, and many others in the financial services industry, participated in. Other countries, such as the UK and Australia, launched open banking years ago, and the US announced its approach to open banking last fall. To our government’s credit (no pun intended), the fall economic statement gave us a broad sketch. Now it’s time to fill in the details.

If we don’t see real movement in the budget on Tuesday, not only will progress stall, but it will also significantly undermine efforts to make real estate more affordable, which has been a big focus for our government as made clear in last Friday's sweeping housing announcement. It is imperative that our leaders not only sketch out, but also fill in, the details of their plans for open banking. We need commitment, not just conversation, to ensure that all Canadians have equitable opportunities to build their credit and, by extension, their futures.