The countdown is on in Federal Election 2015, when Canadians elect their next prime minister. Forget who has the nicest hair – let’s look at who’s promising what when it comes to housing.
Conservatives, Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper proposes a new, permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit, rebating 15 per cent of the cost of renovations between $1,000 and $5,000. The Conservatives introduced a previous HRTC in 2009 as a stimulus measure to combat the recession. The program injected an estimated $4.3 billion into the economy by the end of 2010, and was later eliminated as part of the push to return the federal budget to balance.
Will implement an improved Home Buyer’s Plan, allowing aspiring homeowners to make tax-free withdrawals from their Registered Retirement Savings Plans to finance the purchase or new construction of their first home. In 2009, the Harper government increased the allowable withdrawal from $20,000 to $25,000 – the first increase since the program was established in 1992. This latest change will again raise the limit – to $35,000.
Vows to begin collecting data on foreign buyer activity in Canada’s housing market. “We will then take action in coordination with provinces to ensure foreign investment in Canada’s housing sector supports the availability and affordability of homes for Canadians,” Harper says.
Has set a target to create 700,000 new homeowners by 2020. This would raise Canada’s homeownership rate to 72.5 per cent.
New Democrats, Thomas Mulcair
Proposes to spend $200 million over four years to help retrofit 50,000 homes and 15,000 apartments to make them more energy efficient.
Also plans to invest $150 million over four years in a Green municipal fund to help with sustainable local projects and cleaner transit.
Liberals, Justin Trudeau
Will change the rules to allow people to dip into their RRSPs more than once to buy a home.
Will renew federal leadership in housing, starting with a new 10-year investment in social infrastructure.
Will prioritize investments in affordable housing and seniors’ facilities, build more new housing units and refurbish old ones, give support to municipalities to maintain rent-geared-to-income subsidies in co-ops, and give communities the money they need for Housing First initiatives that help homeless Canadians find stable housing.
Will encourage the construction of new rental housing by removing all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing. This will provide an estimated $125 million per year in tax incentives to grow and renovate the supply of rental housing.
Will modernize the existing Home Buyers’ Plan to allow Canadians impacted by sudden and significant life changes to buy a house without tax penalty. He says this will ease the burden on Canadians facing job relocation, the death of a spouse, marital breakdown, or a decision to accommodate an elderly family member.
Will direct the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. and the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing to support the construction of new, affordable rental housing for middle and low income Canadians.
Will review escalating home prices in high-priced markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, and consider policy tools that could keep homeownership within reach for more Canadians.
Green Party, Elizabeth May
Proposes to create a national housing strategy, through the Council of Canadian Governments, to address the fact Canada is the only country in the OECD without a housing strategy.
Will dedicate funding to the co-operative housing sector to enable more new affordable housing projects to proceed, while extending funding for co-ops whose contracts with the federal government are expiring.
Plans to retrofit all Canadian homes by 2030 to increase energy efficiency, cut heating and electricity bills, and reduce 80 per cent of building emissions by 2040.
Will implement a Guaranteed Livable Income to help low income Canadians and youth reach their dream of affording a home.
Will eliminate Stephen Harper’s Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, which allows foreign investors to purchase Canadian properties and can drive housing prices up for Canadian families beyond their reach.
Will ensure a percentage of all newly built units are reserved for affordable housing.
Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe
Will provide $2 billion per year for affordable housing.