Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau outlined his party’s plan to make it easier to buy a home across the country, vowing anew to address a housing affordability crisis that has grown since he came to office.
What the Liberals unveiled Tuesday would tweak programs aimed at first-time homebuyers, including one to help offset the cost of a mortgage that the government recently expanded because of low take-up in some of the hottest housing markets in the country.
Trudeau defended his government’s existing national housing strategy, which the parliamentary budget officer earlier this month described as having limited impact, saying the announcement of changes and additions wasn’t a sign of any shortcoming.
“Anyone out there promising that they can fix the housing crisis (quickly), doesn’t understand the housing crisis, or doesn’t have a real plan to do it. They’re just trying to sell you something,” Trudeau said near a housing development where home prices can reach $1 million.
“That’s why we’ve created a very ambitious, but multi-faceted plan that responds in tangible ways to make sure that people have better options.”
The party is also promising to create what they’re calling a First Home Savings Account, where those under 40 could save up to $40,000 and withdraw it tax-free for a down payment with no requirement to repay.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, speaking in Mississauga, Ont., said housing conditions have worsened during Trudeau’s time as prime minister: “If he cared about it, wouldn’t the housing crisis not be here?”
“Justin Trudeau has sided with wealthy speculators for six years as they’ve pushed the price of a home out of reach for everybody else. If he really wanted to make housing more affordable for people, he’d have done it already. People can’t afford any more empty housing promises from Justin Trudeau.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Trudeau has had years to enact those housing policies and has “failed.”
“He has had programs that have been ineffective in terms of affordable housing, in terms of programs for first-time homebuyers,” O’Toole said in Ottawa.
“We have a serious plan to tackle a serious crisis for our country and after six years of inaction from Mr. Trudeau, more hollow words today is not what Canadians deserve.”
Green Leader Annamie Paul was speaking Tuesday about affordable housing in the Toronto Centre riding in which she is running. The median income is $39,000 while the average one-bedroom rent is $2,300, she said.
“So you do the math and tell me how people are going to manage to make ends meet,” she said.
“This is something that is a failure. It is something that has gotten worse and we know that the situation has been exacerbated during the pandemic.”
Trudeau also promised a “bill of rights” for homeowners that would ban blind bidding, enshrine a legal right to an inspection, ban foreign buyers for two years as the Conservatives have also promised, and an anti-flipping tax on residential properties.
He suggested the government has the tools to enforce the proposed set of rules and prevent predatory and speculative practices.