Photo: Jason Hafso / Unsplash

Canada’s next federal election is just days away. With the state of the national housing market a central component of political party platforms this year, voters will have their say in how the next government will shape housing across the country for years to come.

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Concerns about rising unaffordability and dwindling home supply in the face of high demand have had a heavy influence on the (proposed) policies put forward by the election parties this year. Building new properties, limiting foreign ownership and incentivizing the creation of affordable housing are a few of the ideas being tossed around in an attempt to make buying or renting a home in Canada more accessible and financially attainable.

Here, we’ve outlined a pre-election cheat sheet of what every major election party is promising for the 2021 federal election.

Liberal Party

Construction and Development

  • Build, preserve and revitalize 1.4 million homes by 2025-2026.
  • Invest $4-billion into a Housing Accelerator Fund with a target of creating 100,000 new middle class homes by 2024-2025.
  • Invest in e-permitting technology to speed up the building process and work with municipalities to identify vacant or underutilized properties for housing development.
  • Increase funding to the National Housing Co-Investment fund by $2.7 billion over four years.
  • Double the existing ​​Budget 2021 commitment to $600 million for the conversion of office and retail space into housing. The federal government would work with local municipalities to speed up the conversion process.
  • Create a 15 per cent Multi-generational Home Renovation tax credit for up to $50,000 in renovation and construction costs towards adding a secondary unit to their home for a family member.

Home Buyers Incentives and Protections

  • Create a tax-free First Home Savings Account that will allow Canadians under 40 years old to save up to $40,000 towards their first home.
  • Adjust the First-Time Home Buyers’ Incentive (FTHBI) so that participants can either choose between the current shared equity option or a loan that is repayable when the property is sold.
    Increase the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit from $5,000 to $10,000.
  • Reduce the price of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) mortgage insurance by 25 per cent, and boost the insured mortgage cut-off level from $1 million to $1.25 million.
  • Create a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights that will ban blind bidding, create a legal right to a home inspection, create a publicly-accessible ownership registry and require real estate agents to disclose if they represent both sides of the sales transaction.
  • Create an anti-flipping tax to require that properties be held for a minimum of 12 months. Canadians in certain life circumstances would be exempt from the tax.
  • Ban ​​foreign money from purchasing a non-recreational residential property for the next two years unless the property is confirmed to be used for future employment or immigration purposes in that two-year period.
  • Extend the national tax on non-resident, non-Canadian owned vacant properties to foreign-owned vacant land. The tax will be implemented on January 1st, 2022.

Social Programs

  • Collaborate with Indigenous partners to co-develop an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.
  • Work with Indigenous partners to create a National Indigenous Housing Centre with Indigenous People overseeing the federal Indigenous housing programs.
  • Appoint a Federal Housing Advocate within the first 100 days to ensure government commitments towards ending chronic homelessness are being fulfilled.

Renters

  • Introduce a rent-to-own program based on three components: the landlord must charge below market rate to encourage savings for a down payment, the landlord must commit to ownership in a five-year term or less, and homeowner safeguards will be put in place. $1 billion will be dedicated to develop rent-to-own projects.
  • Deter unfair rent increases that lead to renovictions, and require landlords to declare on their taxes the rent they received pre- and post-renovation.
  • Review the tax treatment of large corporate rental owners.

Photo: James Bombales

Conservative Party

Construction and Development

  • Build one million homes in the next three years.
  • Build public transit infrastructure that connects to where people live, and require municipalities to increase density near federally-funded transit programs.
  • Review the 37,000-building real estate portfolio of the federal government and release 15 per cent of it for housing.
  • Create an incentive for corporations and private landowners to donate property for land trusts for affordable housing development.

Home Buyers Incentives and Protections

  • Create changes to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act while providing the means for law enforcement and prosecutors to tackle real estate money-laundering.
  • Create a residential Beneficial Ownership Registry.
  • Ban foreign investors who are not living in or moving to Canada from purchasing a home for a two-year period.
  • Foster a new market in seven- to ten-year mortgages.
  • Remove the requirement for a stress test whenever a homeowner renews their mortgage with another lender.
  • Boost the eligibility limit for mortgage insurance, indexing it to home price inflation.
  • Adjust the mortgage stress test to prevent discrimination against non-permanent employees and small business owners.

Social Programs

  • Introduce a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” housing strategy that would partner with and empower Indigenous communities with the “autonomy to meet their own housing needs.”
  • Create a Northern Housing Strategy to provide the territories with federal housing funding.
  • Invest $325 million over three years to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and 50 recovery community centres nationwide.
  • Investigate the potential use of surplus military housing for homeless veterans.

Renters

  • Encourage Canadians to invest in rental housing by deferring capital gains tax when selling a rental property.
  • Encourage foreign investment into purpose-built rental housing.

Photo: James Bombales

New Democratic Party (NDP)

Construction and Development

  • Create at least 500,000 units of affordable housing over ten years, half of which will be completed in the next five years. This includes social housing, community and non-market housing.
  • Establish dedicated fast-start funds and streamline the construction application process.
  • Turn unused and underutilized properties into housing.
  • Waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units.

Home Buyers Incentives and Protections

  • Re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time buyers.
  • Double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500.
  • Provide resources to facilitate co-housing, such as model co-ownership agreements and access to CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.
  • Implement a 20 per cent Foreign Buyer’s tax to people who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Create a public beneficial ownership registry.
  • Require reporting of suspicious transactions to combat money laundering.

Social Programs

  • Work with Indigenous communities to create a co-developed, fully-funded Indigenous National Housing Strategy within the first 100 days of office.
  • Ensure that Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQI2S+ People fleeing violence have access to emergency shelters and transitional housing.

Renters

  • Provide rent relief to families struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing.

Photo: James Bombales

Green Party

Construction and Development

  • Invest in the construction and operation of 50,000 supportive housing units over the course of a decade. The party would also build and acquire at least 300,000 units of affordable non-market, co-op and non-profit housing over a decade.
  • Restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing, and provide tax credits for gifts of lands.
  • Allocate one per cent of GST to housing and other municipal infrastructure projects.
  • Remove GST when developers list an empty condo on the market as a rental unit.
  • Require that developers who receive federal funding ensure 30 per cent of their units are available to people with disabilities and special needs.
  • Provide federal grants to youth shelters and invest in the creation of new youth shelters.

Home Buyers Incentives and Protections

  • Appoint the Federal Housing Advocate as outlined in the National Housing Strategy Act.
  • Increase the tax on foreign-owned vacant properties, and establish an empty home tax for foreign and corporate residential owners that leave properties vacant.
  • Close tax haven loopholes for foreign investors that hide the names of beneficial owners of properties.

Social Programs

  • Appoint a Minister of Housing to oversee the unique housing needs of each province.
  • Declare housing affordability and homelessness in Canada a national emergency.
  • Redefine affordable housing using an updated formula that accounts for regional variations.
  • Develop inclusive and culturally-appropriate Urban Indigenous Housing Strategies as guided by Indigenous People.
  • Create and implement an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.
  • Establish a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” housing support program for all off-reserve and urban Indigenous communities, which includes off-reserve Status and non-Status Indigenous Peoples.
  • Assist urban and rural Indigenous People to identify emergency housing options for youth, Elders, 2SLGBTQQIA+, and vulnerable people.

Renters and Co-op Housing

  • Create a national moratorium on evictions which would be upheld until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
  • Introduce a retroactive residential arrears assistance program to protect those at risk of being evicted due to accumulated rent arrears.
  • Establish a national standard for rent and vacancy controls.
  • Fund the purchase of buildings by non-profit and cooperative affordable housing organizations.
  • Establish a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy and update the process for financing co-op housing.
  • Provide financing to non-profit housing organizations, cooperatives and social housing for affordable housing programs.
  • Refocus the mandate of the CMHC to support affordable and co-operative housing.

Photo: James Bombales

Bloc Québécois

  • The party calls on Ottawa to reinvest one per cent of its annual income into social, community and affordable housing.
  • Propose a tax on real estate speculation.
  • Propose that federal surplus properties should be used for housing development, and that the federal government reorganize programs in the National Housing Strategy to create an acquisition fund, allowing co-ops to buy homes in the private market and turn them into affordable housing.
  • Ensure that Quebec receives funding of federal homelessness programs.

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)

  • Reduce national immigration quotas from 400,000 down to 100,000 to 150,000 people a year to “help reduce demand for housing.”
  • Adjust the Bank of Canada’s inflation target from two per cent to zero per cent.
  • Cease funding to social housing programs.
  • Privatize or dismantle the CMHC.
  • Work with the provinces to curb speculation and money laundering.

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