Analysis: Emergency measures can resolve housing crisis

Amid the worsening affordability crisis in Canada’s housing markets, a non-profit executive said that the primary responsibility for addressing the problem lies not with real estate professionals or institutions such as banks, but rather with “provincial governments and municipalities that have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the problem.”
In a contribution piece for The Globe and Mail, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada founding chairman John Bruk explained that intensifying pollution and overcrowding in cities across the Pacific is driving middle-class Chinese to look for better environments for themselves and their families.
“We cannot blame them for wishing to settle in Vancouver and Toronto, and in the process helping to drive up housing prices to the point of unaffordability for average Canadians,” Bruk wrote.
This influx represents a golden opportunity for the Canadian government to uphold its stated commitment to decisively resolve the housing crisis without turning away a potentially powerful source of internal revenue.
“Immigration and investments from Asia will continue to increase, and if properly managed they should yield substantial benefits to Canadians,” the executive said.
Bruk argued that the most effective way to go about any potential solutions is by the Prime Minister’s implementation of emergency measures at the provincial and municipal levels.
“These measures should include: Restricting foreign purchasers to new housing accommodations to be approved for future construction; taxing housing purchased by non-resident foreigners at a rate to be determined; requiring foreigners resident in Canada to prove sufficient Canadian taxable income to qualify for mortgage loans; ensuring the maintenance of all unoccupied housing meets neighbourhood standards, with neglect mitigated at the owner’s expense; and after the federal working group has reported back, the three levels of government should meet to agree on a set of regulations to replace these emergency measures,” Bruk outlined.
“Hopefully this current housing crisis will prod governments to be better prepared in developing winning, not losing, strategies to realize the substantial benefits for Canadians that a resurgent and increasingly affluent Asia presents,” Bruk concluded. “Canadians are entitled to no less.”

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  • by Samir Sa'd 2016-07-14 12:58:24 PM

    Cry Foul and do nothing. Unfortunately. in a democratic free market economy governments debate the issue forever and making a decision at a snail's pace. That is partly because of the two or three political parties ideology approach to how the market economy should work.
    Unfortunately with these kind of debates the basic interest of the welfare of average citizens get lost. Let us not forget it is not about Real Estate or money. It is about the basic fabric of the society and the struggle of the people who slave so hard to be able to meet the basic necessity of life, such as food and shelter. We want to live in a safe, secure place, we are willing to pay high taxes for this privilege and all the services it comes with it from health care to nice healthy environment. The government we elect has a responsibility to protect these rights and keep it affordable for it's citizens. .It has to act now and fast to enact laws to help those who just get out of college burdened with hefty student mortgage to find affordable shelter and start a family. Some say it is a privilege to own a home. I say it is a right to have an affordable shelter especially when the reason for the lack of it is the foreign investment finding its way to our shores looking for cheap, safe heaven to park here (some illegal) money. The government obligation to tax or impose a levy on this foreign in vestment in Residential REAL ESTATE only and chanel this revenue to help first home buyers Canadian Citizens. Is there any one out there listening. ACTION NOW.

  • by Scott 2016-07-14 11:10:59 PM

    I will agree people have the right to safe and affordable shelter. I don't necessarily believe that means home ownership. There is nothing wrong with renting an apartment or house. I'm not entirely certain where the mantra of "home ownership is the best thing for everyone" started but I do suspect it was at a time when there were not other options such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc - at least not accessible to the average worker. But a mortgage was available to everyone, so home ownership must have become "the only option."

    With regards to the government's responsibility to its citizens, well the federal government used to operate social housing. I believe they exited the field during the Paul Martin, finance minister years. If the provinces and muncipalities were concerned, they could have stepped into the void and continued to operate the social housing scheme. They did not. I know all the excuses - not my responsibility, we don't have the money, we're lazy, we don't care, etc, etc. Maybe we need to elect people for 30 year terms so they can focus on the "big" picture and not just the next 4, 5 years. Yah, I know....won't happen.

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