Study calls on Ottawa for a coherent housing strategy

A recent report has called on the federal government to focus on responsible and affordable homeownership in its upcoming National Housing Strategy.

Among other things, the study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a public policy think tank, said the strategy should support homeownership by encouraging savings, reducing mortgage insurance fees, and placing a hold on changes to mortgage and financing rules.

“We believe that affordable and responsible homeownership carries with it considerable economic and social benefits and ought to be a major part of the federal government’s vision of inclusive growth,” wrote authors Sean Speer and Jane Londerville.

They claimed that current federal housing policy lacks coherence – policy changes are regularly enacted with little focus on their consistency or compatibility with other housing-related policies.

“One example: successive cases of mortgage rule tightening have taken place while Ottawa has concurrently expanded incentives and subsidies for first-time home buyers. It often seems like the left hand and the right hand are not speaking.”

Among other things, they said Ottawa should put new or pending changes to mortgage and financing rules on hold until the impact of recent changes on the housing market can be determined. Existing tax policies should be consolidated and augmented to support homeownership. For example, housing-related tax expenditures can be reconfigured into a new, single pro-homeownership tax credit.

They also suggested the creation of a new matching funds mechanism in Tax-Free Savings Accounts (similar to Registered Education Savings Plans or Registered Disability Savings Plans) for the purposes of supporting higher down payments.


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