ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Black Press Media has taken an in-depth look at three major issues in the 2019 federal election campaign: energy and climate change, taxation and the economy, and housing. Our final piece: housing

Young Canadians are spending 30 per cent or more of their incomes on housing. Mortgages in major cities are necessitating down payments that require decades of saving. The national vacancy rate for apartments has hit a 10-year low.

Canada’s housing crisis is even more dire for the tens of thousands of people experiencing homelessness. Some people are in tent cities. Shelters are struggling to support the demand. And supportive housing meant to get people off the streets and onto the path of opportunity are opening with wait lists.

Housing affordability has featured prominently throughout the federal election campaign so far. Here is a comparison of what the parties are offering.

READ MORE: NDP leader Singh promises action on affordable housing after winning byelection

Another Justin Trudeau government would continue with its 10-year, $40-billion National Housing Strategy announced in 2017. The Liberals would move forward with the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, which gives people up to 10 per cent off the purchase of their first home, and would increase the qualifying value to nearly $800,000 in places where houses cost more, like Vancouver and Toronto.

To limit speculation, the Liberals are pledging to tax vacant residential properties owned by non-residents.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has announced he would “fix” the mortgage stress test so first-time buyers are not “unnecessarily prevented” from getting mortgages. If elected, he would also increase amortization periods on insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time homebuyers in an effort to lower monthly payments.

The party would also save $300 million by cancelling the Liberal Housing Supply Challenge, a program that invites communities to propose initiatives that break down barriers limiting new housing.

READ MORE: Trudeau targeted in English leaders’ debate

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh vows to build 500,000 affordable homes over 10 years, with a $5-billion injection, and try to ease speculation with a 15-per-cent foreign buyers’ tax.

The New Democrats would also remove the GST on new rental units, double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500, and, like the Conservatives, re-introduce 30-year terms to allow for smaller monthly payments on insured mortgages.

Green leader Elizabeth May would build 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years, appoint a Minister of Housing, and introduce a law to declare housing a human right.

She would also refocus the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on developing affordable and co-op housing, rather than facilitating the ownership of individual homes, and eliminate the first-time home buyer grant.

The People’s Party of Canada has not released any housing-specific policies as of Oct. 15.

Check out our previous stories in this series:

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders



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