Federal government policies and regulations have made accessibility to housing in Canada increasingly difficult for middle-class families and millennials. The dream of homeownership continues to be strong among millennials, but affordability is often out of reach. Many potential home buyers struggle to accumulate enough capital for a down payment, yet have an income stream that would allow them to manage monthly mortgage payments.
CREA is currently advocating for the federal government to enhance the Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC) to provide meaningful assistance to first time homebuyers, to better enable more Canadians to enter the housing market.
We also recommend the government take regional differences into consideration when implementing nation-wide measures that affect home buyers. This includes a review of the “one-size-fits-all” nature of policies that impact housing markets across the country.
Help Canadians Reach Their Goals
Providing financial support to help Canadians fulfill their homeownership goals and start building equity is critical at a time when house prices are at a record high across the country.
The Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC) is an existing program that helps compensate for some of the costs associated with a home purchase. However, the HBTC needs to be enhanced in order to reflect the current costs facing home buyers in Canada more accurately.
We propose an increase to the existing tax credit to help first-time home buyers. An enhanced HBTC would provide meaningful assistance and enable more Canadians to enter the housing market.
We recommend the $750 non-refundable tax credit be replaced with a $2,500 non-refundable tax credit per qualifying home for first-time home buyers.
Evaluate Policies That Affect Homeownership
We acknowledge there is no simple strategy to make homeownership more accessible in some of Canada’s most active markets. However, we are concerned certain federal government policies designed to cool these markets have had a negative impact on the homeownership goals of many Canadians outside of those markets.
The federal government should take regional differences into consideration when implementing nation-wide measures that affect home buyers. In particular, the “stress test” has had unintended consequences in many balanced markets across the country and driven millennials and middle-class families in stable markets further away from reaching their goal of owning a home.
These measures should be applied only in those markets the government has identified as requiring an intervention. There is precedent for national programs being tailored to address regional socio-economic factors. There are regional applications of the Employment Insurance Program that reflect the realities of local and regional labour and employment markets.
We recommend further coordination in housing‑related policies between the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Finance Canada, the Bank of Canada and Statistics Canada. We also recommend that all levels of governments should engage in dialogue to gain a clear understanding of the impact any new measures could have on homeowners and home buyers.