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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