Since the dissolution of Parliament and calling of a general election on August 15, 2021, the federal political parties have released distinct policy platforms. At the top of many Canadian minds this election year, and the focus of these platforms, are concerns around housing affordability, availability, and the obstacles to adequate supply.
For a special episode* of the Ready to Real Estate podcast , TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer engaged three candidates on housing from various GTA ridings, representing three parties:
- The Liberal Party candidate for York South-Weston, Ahmed Hussen;
- The Green Party candidate for Spadina-Fort York, Amanda Rosenstock; and
- The New Democratic Party candidate for Don Valley East, Simon Topp.
(Candidates from the Conservative Party and People’s Party of Canada were confirmed, but were ultimately unable to join due to last-minute scheduling conflicts.)
See where each candidate landed on hot-button housing topics in our roundup, below, before you head to the polls on September 20.
*A note on the format: Equal time was given to each of the candidates during the discussion, with Jason calling time where needed. For hot-button issues, a 30-second rebuttal was offered to each candidate.
How will your party increase housing supply (owned units and rentals)?
Hussen: The Liberals pledge to create 1.4 million units of housing to address availability issues. To do so in part, they will free up federal and public land, citing access to land as one of the greatest barriers to new home development.
Rosenstock: An estimated 80 per cent of land is affected by prohibitive zoning regulations that impede the development of more affordable missing middle housing, like townhomes and mid-rises – and the Greens hope to work with provincial and municipal partners to eradicate those restrictions.
Topp: The NDP will cut GST/HST for developers who build affordable housing, and introduce start-up funds for building housing co-ops, social housing, and not-for-profit housing.
In a recent TRREB survey, first-time buyers made up 40–50 per cent of home buyers. How will your party support them?
Hussen: The Liberals will introduce a billion-dollar rent-to-own program, ensuring that renters have a clear pathway towards homeownership. They also pledge to start new tax-free savings accounts of up to $40,000, purpose-built around buying homes. They plan to revamp the first-time buyer incentive program to address new challenges.
Rosenstock: The Greens believe in shifting the paradigm of homes as investment vehicles to homes as places to live in. New home buyers compete against speculative buyers at a grand scale – to the tune of 66,000 vacant properties in Toronto alone. The Greens will introduce vacancy taxes Canada-wide.
Topp: The NDP proposes the introduction of longer-term mortgages that allow for much smaller monthly payments. In addition, they hope to address high costs of living in Canada by increasing wages and decreasing the cost of wireless and internet, to help improve Canadian purchasing power overall.
What will your party do to address foreign investment in the real estate sector?
Hussen: Foreign investors see real estate as an item on a large portfolio, which leads to negative outcomes for Canadian home buyers. The Liberals will ban foreign investment in the real estate market for two years and observe its effects. They will also introduce a home buyers’ bill of rights to make sure Canadian buyer interests are protected.
Rosenstock: The proposed 1 per cent tax on non-resident property owners is considered little more than a cost of doing business, and will do nothing to quell skyrocketing growth of house prices in Canada. The Greens believe that banning foreign ownership isn’t enough, and point to bans in New Zealand and Australia as only semi-effective in driving housing prices down.
Topp: The NDP identifies foreign buying as a source of why housing is so expensive, and proposes a 20 per cent foreign buyers’ tax. However, it’s not the only source. A higher or equal issue is that people are buying and flipping houses. They hope to increase transparency in the home-buying process and shine a light on potential instances of money laundering in the real estate sector.
This summary only skims the surface of the candidates’ conversation around housing and real estate in the GTA and Canada; we encourage you to check out the full episode to hear their detailed positions on the above, as well as blind bidding, land costs, mortgages, affordability, housing supply, homelessness, evictions, and more.
See you at the polls on September 20!