Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 26, 2021
Trudeau promises new incentives worth billions and a tax on ‘flipping’ to help Canadians buy a home
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau today promised a suite of new measures to help Canadians buy a home at a time when a red-hot housing market has made owning property seem like a distant dream for many young people.
Speaking to reporters in Hamilton, Trudeau said the real estate market is afflicted by “instability” and “uncertainty” and a COVID-fuelled spike has led to soaring prices, bidding wars, rampant speculation and too many vacant properties. He said the situation demands government intervention to help more people acquire their own homes.
The aggressive plan — billions of dollars in new funding, measures to curb the practice of “flipping” homes, efforts to block foreign nationals from buying homes for two years and new regulatory measures to police exploitative real estate agents — comes at a time when Canadians are telling pollsters that housing is one of the issues they care about most.
The three-point program includes commitments to “unlock home ownership” through new government funding, a plan to build more homes to address supply constraints and measures to establish and protect new rights for buyers.
“If you work hard, if you save, that dream of having your own place should be in reach. But for too many people, it just isn’t — and that’s not right,” Trudeau said.
“You shouldn’t have to move far away from your job or school or family to afford your rent. You shouldn’t lose a bidding war on your home to speculators. It’s time for things to change.”
If the Liberals are re-elected on Sept. 20, Trudeau said, he would introduce a first home savings account which would allow Canadians up to age 40 to save $40,000 toward their first home and withdraw it tax-free when it comes time to buy. Money added to the account would go in tax-free and could be withdrawn without any taxes owing on possible investment gains.
He said a Liberal government would double the first-time home buyers tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000 — an incentive that would help with the many closing costs that come with buying property.
“Let’s remember, in 2017, as we launched that national housing strategy, we were starting from a standing start because for the previous ten years a Conservative government decided the federal government had no role to play in housing. That’s wrong,” Trudeau said. “But absolutely, there is more to do — much more to do.”
Trudeau took a swipe at Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s housing plan, which commits to building one million new homes over three years while easing mortgage requirements and making more federal land available for development.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, O’Toole said he won’t take lessons from Trudeau on housing.
“Mr. Trudeau’s had six years and he’s failed. The housing crisis has exploded in the last three, four years under his leadership,” O’Toole said. “After six years of inaction, more hollow words today is not what Canadians deserve. They deserve a plan.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was equally critical, saying the situation has only gotten worse in the last six years under Trudeau.
“Housing has become more expensive. Renting has become more expensive. We can’t handle another four years of this,” Singh said at a campaign stop in Mississauga, Ont., where he announced a plan to nationalize Revera, the country’s largest for-profit long-term care home operator.(CBC)