Like many of us, I enjoy being in the know when it comes to politics. However, my ability to follow along has its limits. During this intensely political period my desire to know what’s happening is often curtailed by the lack of time or energy I’m able to invest in following each step of the election.
All day, candidates are making promises, holding press conferences and releasing statements. I, for one, can’t possibly keep up. And if I can’t keep up as a journalism student, I don’t see how other busy people have much of a chance either.
Over the next five days I’ll be taking a closer look at each party’s campaign platforms and what the candidates’ promises mean for Ryerson students.
Trying to find an apartment or house in Toronto can be particularly difficult for students. It is all too common to hear horror stories of one bedroom apartments shared between six people and landlords kicking tenants out at 2 a.m. With cities like Toronto and Vancouver regularly being named as some of the most expensive housing markets in North America, housing has been an important topic in the 2019 election thus far.
Leader Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party have made housing a key point of their platform. They have pledged to build more affordable housing and implement Canada’s first National Housing Strategy. Every year, fewer and fewer young people are able to afford home ownership, which is one of the key reasons why rental prices are skyrocketing. To combat this, the Liberal party has proposed the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, which gives people up to 10 per cent off the purchase price of their first home. They have also proposed a solution to the problem of vacant properties. In major North American cities, foreign buyers come in, buy properties, and then rent them out or leave them vacant, thus limiting the availability of viable housing options for those who can really use them. The Liberals have proposed a consistent national tax on vacant residential properties owned by non-Canadians who don’t live in Canada.
However, while incentives for helping young people buy homes are important, I would have liked to know more about how the Liberals plan to help those who are not in a financial position for home ownership. Renters are facing astronomical prices all over the country, especially in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. I feel that the Liberal platform needed to do a better job addressing this.
QUESTION: Do you agree that it’s time for the federal government to take more of a stand and help those renters in major Canadian cities combat high rental costs?
While Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has made many campaign stops, the Conservative Party withheld its official platform until very recently, a move which garnered criticism.
Scheer and the Conservative party have pledged to increase the amount of time you have to pay insured mortgages to 30 years for first-time home-buyers. While the Liberal party is focused on reducing vacant properties, the Conservatives have proposed an inquiry into money laundering in real estate to help straighten out the market. Scheer also says he would ease regulations to get new homes built, creating more housing. Finally, according to CBC, the Conservative party would also implement a 20 per cent green homes tax credit for up to $20,000 spent over two years to pay for energy-saving renovations to buildings and homes.
While increasing the time allotted to pay mortgages is good for easing costs right now, it guarantees that home-buyers will become indebted to the bank for a longer period of time. To me, the Conservatives proposition seems to mean elongating debt rather than eradicating it. Also, I’m all for new homes being built but it worries me to ease the regulations on building them. I would rather see a decrease in the cost of rent for the homes we already have, while continuing to build safe, regulated new homes. The tax credit on green homes is a hit with me, though. I love to see ways to incentivize green living integrated into areas outside of a parties environmental policies.
Do you think the Conservatives’ proposal does enough for young urban dwellers who are trying to become homeowners?
In their official platform, the NDP and Jagmeet Singh have outlined their goal to create 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next 10 years. In order to get these units built, the party proposes waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units and setting up dedicated fast-start funds to make the application process for new builds more efficient. Similar to the Conservatives’ focus, the NDP seems to be placing importance on the timeline for these new builds. However, instead of making it easier to build, they are looking at making the application process more efficient. They also say that they will provide “immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing,” although it is not explicitly stated how they will do this.
Just like the Conservatives, the NDP believe in reintroducing 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time home-buyers, allowing for smaller monthly payments. They have also proposed implementing “resources to facilitate co-ownership” of housing to share costs with a co-owner. Finally, they have also pledged to double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit, to $1,500.
Do you think co-ownership is a viable form of housing?
Lastly, the Green party has proposed that housing be designated a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians. The party would appoint a minister of housing, who would work with provincial ministers to ensure each province is properly looked after. They plan on creating 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years. The party also proposed increasing the National Housing Co-investment Fund and creating a Canada co-op housing strategy. Finally, they want to eliminate the first-time home-buyer grant.
I worry about a plan that creates more government positions designed to oversee the provinces. It feels like that may be stepping on toes and could create conflict within the government. However, the specific mention of rehabilitating housing units is something that piques my interest. There are so many older units, especially in Toronto, that offer huge spaces unlike those that are commonly built today. By updating those older units, there will be more room for larger families to rent affordably and comfortably.
Do you believe that making housing a fundamental human right will change anything?
Check back tomorrow to read about the parties’ platforms on the affordability of education.