Federal Election – Housing Platforms

Here’s a quick summary of what each of the federal parties are promising/proposing for housing in Canada:

Conservative Party

  • Make the mortgage qualification stress test less stringent, and eliminate it completely for renewals to keep banks from gouging borrowers on renewal with uncompetitive high rates.
  • Allow first time buyers to obtain 30 year amortizations to reduce monthly payments.
  • Start an enquiry into money laudering (Canada’s disclosure rules for sellers are lax).
  • Set aside surplus federal lands for housing developments to ease supply problems.

Liberal Party

  • Expand the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive to allow buyers in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria to qualify for up to $769,000 instead of the current $505,000 limit. This program has basically been a complete dud in high priced markets (what can you buy for under $500,000 in Toronto?) and not much better in the rest of the country. A big part of the problem is that the government gets to share in equity gains under this program, and many people aren’t keen  on sharing the appreciation in value of their property with the government.
  • Impose a 1% speculation tax on non-residents and non-Canadians

NDP

  • Develop 500,000 affordable units over 10 years, with the first $5 billion to be spent in their first 18 months in power. The plan is to waive GST/HST on affordable housing construction and to re-introduce 30 year amortizations to encourage more development.
  • Impose a 15% foreign buyer tax on non-residents and non-Canadians who own housing anywhere in the country (in addition to the existing foreign buyer taxes in Ontario and BC.
  • Double the Home Buyers Tax Credit to $1,500
  • Facilitate co-housing through CMHC funding

From my perch, the Conservative proposals seem to be the most practical & affordable. Not sure if housing policies will have a huge impact on the election results, however.