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Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s video on Canada’s housing crisis under Trudeau gov’t goes viral

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

‘Housing hell: How we got here and how we get out’ has been viewed more than four million times.

A video by Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leader Pierre Poilievre exposing the country’s housing prices and supply crisis, which a taxpayer watchdog said is being fueled by high-interest rates from bad fiscal policy by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, has reached over 4 million views.

“Something new and strange has happened in Canada. Canada is sitting on probably one of the largest housing bubbles of all times, something we haven’t seen before,” Poilievre said in his 15-minute video titled Housing hell: How we got here and how we get out.

“An entire generation of youth now say they will never be able to afford a home. This is not normal for Canada.”

 

The video goes deep into Canada’s housing market and includes statistics on why it is in such a dire state. It currently has 4.2 million views on X (formerly Twitter) after it was released on December 2.

Poilievre documents in his video, using facts to back him up, that in the coming months and years “tens of thousands of Canadians could default on their mortgages” due to skyrocketing interest rates.

He noted how the “nightmare scenario” after “generations of affordable and stable Canadian home prices” means that 66% of a person’s average monthly income is to simply “make payments on the average single detached Canadian house.”

“Given that most of the remaining 34 percent of the family paycheck is taken out by taxes, there’s literally nothing left for food and recreation,” Poilievre noted.

Taxpayer watchdog says high house prices due to Trudeau’s out of ‘control’ government

Franco Terrazzano, federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), told LifeSiteNews that the reason house prices, along with everything else, are more expensive is due to Trudeau’s “out of control” governmental spending.

“Life is more expensive because the cost of government is out of control.”

Terrazzano noted that governmental fiscal policy is making home prices more expensive and thus out of reach for most. He said what needs to happen is a reduction in red tape.

“Taxes and onerous government regulations are making homes more expensive,” Terrazzano told LifeSiteNews.

“If governments want to make homes more affordable, they would cut taxes and the red tape that makes it harder and more expensive to build homes.”

Terrazzano highlighted a report from the C.D. Howe Institute that shows the cost of excessive government regulations on home building.

As for Poilievre, he observed how it now would take a staggering 25 years just to save enough money to make a downpayment for a simple home in Toronto.

He continued, noting how newlyweds now on average pay $1,000 per month to rent a “single room in a townhouse that they share with two other couples.”

He also raised the issue of how 35-year-olds “live in their parent’s basements” and “rents are so high in Toronto that students live in homeless shelters.”

When it comes to middle-class workers, Poilievre emphasized how “people like nurses and carpenters now live in their vehicles.”

While housing falls primarily under provincial and municipal jurisdiction, some areas, such as interest rates, are directly influenced by the federal government.

House prices have shot up in Canada due to short supply in the market, and speculative buying and interest rates have risen to highs not seen for decades. As it stands, Canada’s interest rate sits at 5%. At this same time in 2021, interest rates were 0.25%.

This past Wednesday, the Bank of Canada decided to keep rates at 5% but did not rule out future rate increases, as it “is still concerned about risks to the outlook for inflation and remains prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed.”

Interestingly, Trudeau put out a video the same day as Poilievre that he said was to address housing challenges. This video only has 264,000 views, however.

Curiously, Poilievre made no mention of Canada’s high immigration levels, which critics say has put a strain on an already tight supply.

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has been one of the only party leaders to call out high immigration levels and their effects on housing.

Trudeau’s ‘money printing’ pouring fuel on ‘inflationary fire’

According to Poilievre in his video, in the past one could save enough to buy a house by their mid-20s but said this “changed” about “eight years ago” when Trudeau came to power.

“When the government borrows and spends, it builds up the goods we buy and the interest we pay. The Trudeau government has doubled Canada’s debt, adding more debt than all prime ministers combined. Our finance minister has conceded that this deficit spending pours fuel on the inflationary fire,” Poilievre said.

He observed how excessive money printing through a banking scheme called “quantitative easing” has only benefited well-connected banking insiders and financial institutions that are awash with money.

“In recent years, the Trudeau government spending has exploded, and they’ve been borrowing more than lenders will lend. So, the Bank of Canada has started creating the cash. The money supply has therefore grown eight times faster than the economy over the last three years,” Poilievre said.

“More money bidding on fewer goods, including fewer houses, equals higher prices.”

Poilievre ended his video by stating that the “good news is housing costs were not like this before Justin Trudeau.”

“And they won’t be like this after he’s gone,” he added.

He said that the solution, besides a change in leadership, is for all levels of government to work together to cut red tape and taxes to encourage the construction of new homes.

Under Trudeau, mainly due to excessive COVID money printing, inflation has skyrocketed.

A recent report from September 5 by Statistics Canada shows food prices are rising faster than headline inflation at a rate of between 10% and 18% per year.

Earlier this year, the Bank of Canada acknowledged that Trudeau’s federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by some provincial leaders, are indeed helping to fuel inflation.

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Economy

Housing policy should focus on closing the demand-supply gap, not inducing demand or stifling supply

Published on

From the Fraser Institute

FEDERAL REFORMS TO IMPROVE HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

BY JOSEF FILIPOWICZ AND STEVE LAFLEUR

Canada’s declining housing affordability reflects a large, worsening imbalance between housing demand and housing supply.

Few policy areas are gaining as much attention in Canada as housing. This is unsurprising, given that Canada has the largest gap between homes prices and incomes among G7 nations (OECD, 2023) and rents continue to rise in most cities (Statistics Canada, 2023a). As eroding housing affordability has expanded to more parts of Canada, demands for policy solutions have grown beyond local jurisdictions, pressuring federal decisionmakers to act.

First, this essay offers a diagnosis of the issue—a large, growing imbalance between housing demand and supply. Second, it discusses federal policies affecting housing demand, urging better coordination and restraint amid tight supply conditions. Third, it discusses the federal government’s less-direct—though still important—options to improve housing supply.

Guiding principles: do no more harm, and close the demand-supply gap

Canada’s declining housing affordability reflects a large, worsening imbalance between housing demand and housing supply. This is evident when comparing trends in population growth and housing completions. Figure 1 charts these two metrics between 1972 and 2022. In recent years, Canada’s population growth has accelerated, while the number of homes completed has declined relative to the 1970s. 1

Policy efforts should focus on closing the demand-supply gap. The federal government should first ensure that it is not exacerbating the problem, either by stoking demand or by stifling supply, and second by both reviewing all existing policies through a supply-demand lens while implementing tailored policies aimed at closing the demand-supply gap.

Demand-side considerations for federal housing policy

Though all levels of government influence both housing demand and supply, the federal government’s policy levers pertain more directly to demand. They do so in two important ways.

First, federal policy influences population growth. As Canada’s birth rate has declined, population growth has been driven primarily by immigration (including both permanent and temporary residents) (Statistics Canada, 2023c). Though provinces may influence immigration decisions, the federal government establishes annual targets (where applicable) and admission criteria (Filipowicz and Lafleur, 2023).

Second, the federal government influences households’ ability to pay for housing. Policies for home buyers including the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit and the First Home Savings Account, which, combined with the Home Buyers’ Plan, enable the accumulation of tax-free savings for a down payment. Federal policies for homeowners include the exemption from capital gains taxation on the sale of primary residences, loan insurance through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and residential mortgage underwriting through the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Combined, these policies influence the relative attractiveness of housing as an investment.

Without adequate supply, these policies result in higher prices, rather than greater affordability. The federal government should review all existing or proposed policies directly or indirectly impacting housing demand. Further, it should adopt the following two policy approaches:

• Stronger consideration of housing supply dynamics when determining short, medium and long-term immigration targets or visa issuance. For example, supply metrics (e.g. housing starts, completions, and rental vacancy rates) should help inform multi-year plans or criteria for permanent and non-permanent resident admissions.

• Refraining from introducing new demand-inducing subsidies, such as tax credits or subsidies to homebuyers and homeowners, while comprehensively reviewing the impact of existing subsidies.

Supply-side considerations for federal housing policy

Housing supply in Canada is influenced primarily by provincial and local governments. Decisions concerning land-use and growth planning—including for lands owned by the federal government—largely rest with these levels of government, meaning housing construction projects cannot be realized without first aligning with, and receiving approval from, local authorities. Federal policies aiming to grow the housing supply must account for this.

Federal influence on housing supply can be divided into four policy types. First are fiscal transfers. Every year the federal government transfers billions of dollars to municipalities to fund infrastructure. In some cases, funding is permanent and based on federal-provincial agreements.3 In other cases, funding is negotiated for specific projects.4

Second, the federal government also funds the development of non-market housing. Programs such as the National Co-Investment Fund and Rapid Housing Initiative offer low-interest or forgivable loans, and direct funding, respectively, to organizations building or acquiring non-market housing.

Third, federal tax policies and programs influence the financial feasibility of homebuilding. For example, federal sales and capital gains taxes apply differently to different housing types, such as condominiums, rental buildings and accessory dwelling units (e.g. basement or laneway suites).5
Further, federal programs such as the Rental Construction Financing Initiative and multi-unit mortgage loan insurance products influence project feasibility by providing rental builders with low-interest loans or reduced premiums.

Fourth, the federal government’s primary responsibility for immigration gives it significant influence over the mix of skills prioritized in application screening, affecting the construction sector’s ability to recruit workers. Indeed, the share of immigrants working in the construction sector was lower than that among Canada’s overall population in 2020 (BuildForce Canada, 2020), reflecting the longstanding selection preferences of federal immigration policy until more recent changes.6

The federal government should coordinate with local and provincial governments as it develops policies, avoiding the creation of additional barriers and duplication. Specifically, the following three approaches should inform federal efforts to improve housing supply:

• Tying all federal infrastructure funding to housing supply metrics such as housing stock growth, starts or completions, ensuring limited funds are directed to those regions facing the strongest growth pressures in a transparent fashion, while reducing administrative costs and jurisdictional overlap.

• Reviewing and reforming the tax treatment of all housing development, helping improve the feasibility of large- and small-scale projects Canada-wide.

• Further prioritizing skills related to homebuilding in immigration policies and eligibility criteria.

Conclusion

Faced with a widening gap between housing demand and supply, this essay focuses on the federal government’s influence on housing markets, offering five areas of policy action.

The most direct federal levers pertain to housing demand. Housing constraints should be weighed more heavily when setting immigration policy, including temporary immigration, and new demand-inducing policies such as homebuyer tax credits should be avoided, while existing policies should be reviewed.

Given the federal government’s less direct influence on housing supply, intergovernmental coordination is recommended. Limited transfer funding should follow local housing supply metrics, while the tax treatment of housing development could also be reformed, enabling a larger number of projects to be financially feasible.  Lastly, immigration policies should emphasize skills required to build more housing.

Notes
1 For more on the gap between population growth and housing completions, see Filipowicz (2023).
2 For a full list of incentives and rebates for homebuyers, see <https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/consumers/home-buying/government-of-canada-programs-to-support-homebuyers>, as of February 5, 2023.
3 For example, the Canada Community-Building Fund (formerly the Gas Tax Fund) delivers approximately $2 billion annually to local governments.
It is governed by a series of federal-provincial agreements.
4 For example, the federal government has committed one-third of the capital funding required by the Surrey Langley SkyTrain. Similar agreements
are common for major transit infrastructure.
5 The federal government recently announced the removal of the goods and services tax on purpose-built rental housing, helping the feasibility
of this housing class. For more on the influence of federal taxation on rental housing, see Canadian Home Builders’ Association (2016).
6 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada changed screening processes in mid-2023, favouring trade occupations, among others. The full effects of these changes will become apparent with time.
Sources for Figure 1
Statistics Canada, 2023a, table: 17-10-0009-01; Statistics Canada, 2023b, table: 34-10-0126-01.
References
BuildForce Canada (2020). Immigration Trends in the Canadian Construction Sector. <https://www.buildforce.ca/system/files/documents/Immigration_trends_Canadian_construction_sector.pdf> as of September 13, 2023.
Canadian Home Builders’ Association (2016). Encouraging Construction and Retention of Purpose-Built Rental Housing in Canada: Analysis of Federal Tax Policy Options. <https://www.evergreen.ca/downloads/pdfs/HousingActionLab/HAL_EncouragingConstructionAndRetention_FINAL.pdf> as of September 13, 2023.
Filipowicz (2023). Canada’s Growing Housing Gap: Comparing Population Growth and Housing Completions in Canada, 1972–2022.
Fraser Institute. <https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/canadas-growing-housing-gap-1972-2022.pdf>, as of February
5, 2024.
Filipowicz, Josef and Steve Lafleur (2023a). Getting Our Houses in Order: How a Lack of Intergovernmental Policy Coordination
Undermines Housing Affordability in Canada. Macdonald-Laurier Institute. <https://macdonaldlaurier.ca/getting-our-houses-in-order-how-a-lack-of-intergovernmental-policy-coordination-undermines-housing-affordability-in-canada/>, as of February 5, 2024.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (2023). Express Entry Rounds of Invitations: Category-based Selection. <https://www.
canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/submit-profile/rounds-invitations/category-based-selection.html>, as of September 15, 2023.
International Monetary Fund (2023). Report for the 2023 Article IV Consultation. [or Country Report: Canada]. <https://www.imf.
org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2023/07/27/Canada-2023-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-and-Staff-Report-537072> as of
September 13, 2023.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. 2023. Housing Prices (indicator). DOI: 10.1787/63008438.
OECD. <https://data.oecd.org/price/housing-prices.htm>, as of February 5, 2023.
Statistics Canada (2023a). Table 34-10-0133-01. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, average rents for areas with a population of 10,000 and over. <https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/cv.action?pid=3410013301>, as of February 5, 2023.
Statistics Canada (2023b). Table 34-10-0127-01. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, vacancy rates, apartment structures of six units and over, privately initiated in census metropolitan areas. <https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3410012701>, as of February 5, 2024.
Statistics Canada (2023c). Table 17-10-0008-01. Estimates of the components of demographic growth, annual. <https://www150.
statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1710000801>, as of March 2, 2023.
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Economy

Canada can’t have fast population growth, housing supply constraints, and housing affordability

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From the MacDonald Laurier Institute

By Steve Lafleur

No one wants to solve the housing crisis enough to make the hard choices.

It’s tempting to try to have it all and policymakers are not immune to this. There are tradeoffs in everything. Ignoring those tradeoffs might work for awhile, but eventually reality catches up to you. Try as we might, we can’t have it all.

For instance, we can’t have rapid population growth, housing supply constraints, and housing affordability all at the same time. We’ll call this the housing affordability trilemma.

The idea of a policy trilemma comes from the Mundell-Fleming model which is included in most introductory economics textbooks. The model was named after Canadian economist Robert Mundell and British economist Marcus Fleming, who developed the idea in the early 1960s. The basic premise of the model, also called the “impossible trinity” or “trilemma” is that you can have two of three policies, but not all three (namely, free capital flow, a fixed exchange rate, and a sovereign monetary policy).

The idea of an impossible trinity can and has been applied to other situations, like the euro crisis in the early 2010s, and provides a useful way of looking at seemingly intractable problems. Plotting the related problems on a Venn Diagram helps visualize the problem. Here is the Mundell-Flemming model, visualized.

(Source: Author’s creation, graphic recreated)

Now, let’s return to housing policy. Few Canadian problems are as intractable as the now nationwide housing affordability crisis. Rents are rising quickly, apartment availability is falling, and home prices are the highest relative to incomes in the G7. As we’ve shown in a recent paper for the MacDonald Laurier Institute, Canada’s population growth is outstripping housing growth. This, unsurprisingly, has undermined housing affordability. Let’s visualize this trilemma.

(Source: Author’s creation, graphic recreated)

At the root of Canada’s housing woes is a severe shortage of homes relative to the number needed. We simply don’t build enough homes to adequately house current and future Canadians.

Not only is there cross-party consensus that there’s a housing shortage, but most parties in provincial and federal elections have proposed policies aimed at addressing it. So why do we still have a shortage?

Let’s go through the elements of the Canada’s housing trilemma (or housing impossibility trinity).

The first element is a fast-growing population. Canada has the fastest growing population in the G7, and last year alone grew by more than a million people. Barring any major shifts in immigration policy, this trend is unlikely to change any time soon. Indeed, the population grew by 430,635 in the third quarter of 2023. That’s the highest quarterly growth rate since 1957.

The second element is restrictions on homebuilding. Whether intended or not, a suite of policies processes and regulations that prevent or limit the addition of more homes both in existing neighbourhoods and at the urban fringe. Barriers to density include local zoning bylaws, lengthy and uncertain consultation processes, and growth plans that exclude building or upgrading the infrastructure necessary to enable more homebuilding in existing neighbourhoods. Policies explicitly preventing the addition of homes outside of existing neighbourhoods include Ontario’s Greenbelt and British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve, while softer versions include local planning targets limiting the share of development slotted to occur on city outskirts. Given these limitations, it’s no surprise that we’ve rarely surpassed 200,000 housing completions annually since the 1970s, while the rate of population growth has reached generational highs.

The third element is housing affordability. That is, the ability for individuals and families earning local incomes to comfortably meet their housing needs. This means shelter costs don’t prevent them from feeding and clothing themselves, but also allow saving and investing in an education, for instance. For example, some peg the cut-off for affordability at 30 percent of income. By that measure, a household would require an income of over $100,000 to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver, for example.

Whether we like it or not, we can’t have fast population growth, rigid housing supply constraints, and housing affordability all at the same time.

For most of our recent past, the choice we’ve collectively made is to accelerate population growth while maintaining many (if not most) restrictions on both outward and upward growth, meaning we’ve excluded the possibility of achieving broad affordability. The consequences? All the symptoms mentioned before: rising rents, falling vacancies, higher ownership costs.

Despite recent pivots by a growing number of local and provincial governments, the balance of housing and land-use policies remains firmly tilted against reaching the level of homebuilding we need to restore some semblance of affordability, which by some estimates means more than doubling homebuilding. To wit, housing construction has remained remarkably stagnant—even slightly declining—in recent decades. Even the bold changes to zoning recently passed in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia are unlikely to double the number of housing built provincewide.

But, as the housing trilemma suggests, there are alternative routes. If Canadians remain adamant about affordability, we can demand more meaningful reduction or removal of policies preventing a growth in housing supply, or we can demand a reduction in population growth, or both. These are not easy choices but ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. We need to build upwards, outwards, or both, in order to meaningfully increase housing production. We can’t say no to every solution and expect better results.

The point is, there’s broad consensus that Canada faces a housing crisis, and that major policy actions are needed to fix the problem. There’s also a tacit consensus that the policies feeding the crisis should remain in place.

To put it more bluntly, everyone wants to solve the housing crisis, but no one wants to solve the housing crisis enough to make the hard choices. Until we collectively shift our priorities, we are choosing to sacrifice housing affordability. We can’t have it all. If we insist on maintaining fast population growth and restrictions on supply, we’ll get the broken housing market we deserve.

Steve Lafleur is a public policy analyst who researches and writes for Canadian think tanks.

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