Today's discussion:

Housing affordability is Canada’s most pressing problem

It will require serious policy action to address the multi-faceted causes behind Canada’s housing crisis. Most importantly, we must begin to close the gap between supply and demand.

Read article

Comments (19)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please wait...
Your comment has been posted and should appear immediately.
You comment has been received but needs to be moderated before it appears.
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again or contact us for help.
Kim Morton

As stated in the article, the list is long. However, the problems have all been created by the very governments that now claim they can fix everything. Hardly seems likely.
The first, and cost free, thing is to cut immigration to a sustainable level. We must also be selective in who we allow in. professionals, especially in engineering and medicine are top of the list. Our obligation is to do what is best for Canada, not the rest of the world.
Next, and perhaps the most difficult, is to get the bureaucracy out of the way. Delays in permits, unnecessary restrictions and inspections all add to the cost of building.
Land cost is also partly caused by government. 95% of BC is crown land, yet we pay over a million dollars for a lot that barely has room to turn a car around on. Why? It is not like people are moving to BC for work. The majority are rich retirees from elsewhere looking to retire in the sun. This also adds needless infrastructure costs, which should not be paid for by current residents.

1st April 2024 at 10:24 am
John Williamson

There may be differences in view as to what Canada’s most pressing problem is…However, let’s play along with the problem as stated and ask how it is possible to move forward on housing. First, this is a problem focused mainly on two or three cities. Second, can we agree on what caused the problem because if you’re not working on the causes, then what’s going to change? I offer two possible causes that I don’t see going away anytime soon. In a world where money was cheap (or free) for many years, a large portion of the population headed for retirement (70% of whom have no employer pension) saw real estate in large cities (or the stock market) as their only option for security in their old age. Second, our governments have made the decision that immigration, foreign student enrolment, family reunification and refugees are the answer to Canada’s problems. While there has been some slight trimming around immigration for appearance sake nothing has changed from a policy perspective and the newcomers will elect to move into the same 2-3 cities as they always have. Those cities will be on the back of their heels for many years (whether the issue is housing, transit, roads, schools, doctors etc). Meanwhile, populist politicians will continue to look for groups to deflect blame to and persons with assets to expropriate to pay for it.

1st April 2024 at 10:19 am
Michael F

I agree with you to a degree. While the problem is most acute in a few big cities, the affordability crisis has spilled over into many other Canadian cities from Toronto, Vancouver etc. Cities like Halifax, Hamilton and Guelph have had their own property booms because of housing prices in the big cities.

1st April 2024 at 2:33 pm
Paul Nesbitt

The housing shortage can only be cured by building more housing, it’s that simple. What we need is political leadership to treat this problem like a wartime crisis and get a group of business people to run a wartime project to build and get Govt., and nimby’s out of the way. Interest people in joining the trades, not BA’s of no consequence..

Resurrect our economy, built on natural resources like oil, gas, mining, farming, lumber. We can supply far cleaner energy for China and India.

1st April 2024 at 10:20 am
Michael F

Canada is a young country with a mostly immigrant population. For lots of these people having their children attend university was paramount and these would be the first generation that attended post secondary education. It was a huge source of pride for these hard working parents to see their kids off to university. Unfortunately there was a price to this as we neglected getting some kids into the trades.

1st April 2024 at 5:33 pm
Michael B

I’m wondering how many single family homes in Vancouver or Toronto are occupied by senior citizens.
People are living longer and healthier lives and naturally wish to retain the homes they raised their families in. They’ve owned those homes for decades and have watched their net-worth increase substantially and continue to grow. They have the income to engage contractors for repairs and outdoor tasks, relieving them of arduous tasks. Why would they leave ?
As it stands now, if younger generations want to own a decent, affordable home in which to raise a family most will have to inherit it.

1st April 2024 at 9:38 am
Marie-Paule Martin

Faster accessibility to building and infrastructure permits. Lowering of fuel for lumber companies, sawmills, trucking firms, as well as lowering the price of building materials. Lots of power trips here and greed both from governments, their friends and contributors, as well as the business sectors.

1st April 2024 at 9:22 am
Norm Keller

Asserting that “greed”, always on the part of others, is the cause of a problem appears less than honest.

It appears more honest to admit that others aren’t giving their stuff away, when the one making the assertion is the one who feels entitled.

Is the one who seeks a wage increase, or wishes to increase the profit margin on their product, “greedy”? Well then, why aren’t others asking to have their wages or profits reduced in order to be less “greedy”?

Just my opinion and I’ve been married long enough to understand how often I’m wrong, but perhaps the problems are more rooted in assigning artificial values and constraints to what might be better managed by market forces, by what people are willing to pay and provide in voluntary transactions.

It appears that the more governments intervene, the poorer are the effects on ordinary people. One has only to compare the quality of life between democratic capitalist societies and centrally planned (Marxist/socialist/communist/totalitarian) ones.

1st April 2024 at 2:39 pm
Bill Williams

The world in general is without competent leadership and in the absence of it problems multiply.
Everything has become overly political and decisions are made based on vote potential not what is actually best for the people.
As for housing, mortgage payment tax deduction would be a huge help for affordability.

1st April 2024 at 11:14 am
Norm Keller

I agree with your assessment.

Do you agree with Alexander Hamilton who said, “People get the government they deserve.”?

1st April 2024 at 2:41 pm
Xiaoming Guo

As the baby boomers retire, we do need more immigrants to sustain our economy and retirement expenditure. Are immigrants the cause of the housing crisis?

In the 90s of last century, after the Soviet collapse, a huge number of migrant workers rushed into Western Europe from Eastern Europe. There was no housing crisis. At about the same time or a decade earlier, a huge number of migrant workers in western China rushed to the eastern coastal areas. The magnitude was daunting. Hundreds of millions. Yet there was never a housing crisis. Instead, the housing market is booming. At that time, 85% of the world cranes of the world were in China. Who construct the buildings? The migrant workers.

So the immigrants should be able to build houses if they are deemed needed in our economy.

Does Canada lack land to build houses? Don’t kid me. Canada has the lowest population density. The territory per capita is the highest in the world.

If we have a good relationship with China. China can help us to solve the problem. We have land and we need immigrants. Housing should not be a problem if we calculate the resource restrictions. If China can handle hundreds of millions of migrant workers rushing to coastal areas, we can learn a lot of experience from China.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada should form a joint delegation visiting China.

When we became a confederation 157 years ago, we needed the Pacific Railway to secure the West, and Chinese Railroad Workers satisfied our urgent needs. Today, our country encounters an urgent issue again. A good relationship with China will help us overcome the difficulty.

1st April 2024 at 10:25 am
Ray Howarth

Housing affordability is NOT the most pressing issue; excess immigration is the MOST pressing!

1st April 2024 at 3:46 pm
John Humphreys

The cost of the land is now in many places equal to the cost of construction. Simply put, giving away the land or significantly discounting the cost of a serviced or unserviced lot with the government view of generations of future tax would incentivize many to build. It worked a century or so ago and would work again. It would invite domestic and foreign investment as well as manpower to complete the builds. Simple, straightforward you must build abc by xxxx or forfeit. No resale by original purchaser, no hidden ownership. No miss no fuss, get it done.

1st April 2024 at 2:29 pm
Valerie

In many ways the zero-sum conflict is already here. The biggest age group is around 30, so on the clock if they want to start families and (anecdotally) already resenting how much their lives have been delayed both by economic forces and pandemic restrictions. It makes a huge difference, both to individual people and to a sense of generational prospects, whether a solution for people to at least be able to stably rent family-sized housing takes 5 years or 10. Governments are largely still acting like they have the luxury of pretending time is free. They don’t, and short-term fixes need to be at least partially about demand.

A big (if probably untouchable) aspect of demand is subsidies and favourable tax treatment that push seniors towards staying in large homes. Property tax deferrals for wealthy but cash-poor seniors or renovation grants to help seniors age in large homes are going to start seeming more and more unfair the longer family-sized homes stay a luxury good for new buyers. Even the way OAS and GIS are income-tested but not means-tested favours owners in a world where wealth matters as much as income. In the long-run the solution is more housing, but in the short-term people who see their window closing on starting families are likely to sour on having to pay for benefits for people who could support themselves if they downsized.

1st April 2024 at 11:34 am
Peter Neilson

Canadian homeowners have a big advantage when they sell their houses. The capital gain us tax-free. The Liberals have been eyeing this greedily.

American homeowners have a big advantage, in that they can deduct their mortgage interest payments, making the house more affordable. Thus, Canada could make home ownership mire affordable by adopting the US model of mortgage deductibility. Government could make up the lost revenue by taxing the capital gain upon sale of the home.

However, many people/couples depend on the sale of their house as a retirement fund. To protect that aspect of ownership, you could tax the capitol gain based on the average gain per year over the lifetime of ownership. . So the couple whose house value increased 250% over 30 years would yay a capitol gain tax based on the average increase per year over 30 years. On the other hand, speculators who buy up houses in a hot market, hoping to flip them quickly to make fast tax-free profits would pay much higher taxes based on the the large values they jumped in just 2-4 years

This system might help young people afford their first home sooner, without unduly penalizing those homeowners who have realized their gains over a lifetime of ownership. That may be simplistic, but ut could he tweaked to help first home ownership the most, without unduly penalizing those realizing the rewards of a lifetime of responsible ownership.

It could maximize the taxes on those obviously flipping houses with the primary goal of making money, while resisting any attempt by “progressives” to punish all home owners as “the rich”, and make sure responsible homeowners who bought their houses to live in, get to realize that asset for their retirement, without greedy governments grabbing a large percentage for themselves. Nobody should ever be penalized for owning a home. Every retiree who can afford to look after themselves and enjoy their well-earned retirement, is a retiree the taxpayers do mot have to support.

2nd April 2024 at 10:07 am
Michael

Ask your self with its our most pressing problem? In 2018 85 billion dollars and 65000 to 70000 thousand units over 10 years of affordable housing funding and not a penny released or spent. Why? CMHC, NHS HSC, 95 BILLION DOLLAR 10 YEAR AFFORDABLE HOUSING INITIATIVE. NOW, ITS NOT SOME ABSOLUTE GAME CHANGER HOWEVER, IN JANUARY 2023 THEY DUMMEB DOWN THE SYSTEM TO DO A HAF HOUSING ACCELERATOR FUND. 4 BILLION OVER 4 YRARS WITH METRICS AND INFRASTRUCTURE INFIRMATION ONLY DR X FROM A MOVIE COULD PREDICT OR ALLOCATE. SO, 124 OUT OF 203 MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT , IN GOOD FAITH, MANY WITH PAID CONSULTANTS, AND I WILL ANSWER WITH HUMBLENESS AND SADNESS. NOT ONE SINGLE HAF NHS CMHC FUNDING WAS APPROVED. NOW, FROM BRAMPTON, TO EDMONTON, MONCTON TO HALIFAX, TO ST STEPHEN TO LASALLE, TO VANCOUVER TO FORT MACK, TO WOODSTOCK TO BATHURST. I LOVE MY IRISH FRIENDS IN MIRAMICHI And my family on COCAGNE AND BOUCTOUCHE. BUT I OFFERED A REAL HEARTFELL TRUTH THAT NOT ONE SINGLE WORD THIS SRAN FRASER, AND AHMED HUSSEIN BEFORE HIM DELIVED ONE TIME. I , IN FULL DISCLOSURE TRIED TO WORK WITH HON MINISTER DONINIC LEBLANCS OFFICE FOR MONTHS AND THIS WAS TWO MONTHS OF GOOD WORK TRYING. I ACTIVELY HAVE KNOWN THAT MINISTER LEBLANC AND HIS STAFF ARE GOOD. IN NB, POLITICALLY AFTER ALL THESE GENERATIONS, IT EVOLVED TO TWO EGO CENTRIC POLITICAL ECONOMIST FOR THE FUTURE OF OR PROVINCE IN OUR OWN FAMILIES AND CHILDREN . IN ESSENCE, WHEN TWO EUQALLY BUT UNHINGED BY WINNING, WE BOTH DID MORE HARM THAN AND GOOD FOR NEW BRUNSWICK. CANADA, HOWEVER, . IN DECEMBER OF 2022, THIS HUMBLE SON OF A GOVERNOR GENERAL AND THIS S9N OF A FEDERAL JUDGE , THE SENIOR, SHOWED UP ON THE 28TH AND RELUNCTLY I ACCEPTED A COFFEE , ASLO BY TELLING HIM TO GO FACK HIMSELF. EITHER WAY, THIS WAS THE ONLY TIME , THE MAN ACTED LIKE A BIG BROTHER, ASKINF IF THERE WAS ANYTHING HE COULD OFFER TO STOP ME FROM THE INNEVITABLE. HE KNEW THE PEOPLEFIRST AND NOTHING BUT GOD HIMSELF. AND STILL NO. I LEAVE YOU WITH YOUR OWN THOUGHTS BUT IF YOU GET COMPLACENT, NOT OUT OF BRILLIANT MINDS, I FOR KNOW THE TRUTH. AND DOMINC, THERE IS NOTHING YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN. WE BOTH GREW UP AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS BY AUTHORITARIAN FATHERS, HOWEVER, LIKE I SAID, WHEN THIS ENDS, I WILL ASK MY PM, FOR YOOUR PEACEFUL LIFE, AFTER CANCER AND YOUR WIFE’S CLEAN RETIREMENT FROM THE JUDICIARY AND RETIREMENT. * THE ONE ABSOLUTE, AFTER TIME, YOUR 7 DECADES OF WISDOM, WOULD BE AN HONOR TO RECEIVE TO MAKE SURE I CAN LEARN AND HOPEFULLY PASS IT ON TO THE NEXT LEVEL 10 PRIORITY ONE , PRIMARY FEDERAL ABD LEVEL 5 PRIORITY ONE TOP CLEARANCE LEVELS. TY

1st April 2024 at 6:48 pm
Daniel E

Renters are a Big voting block. So how do we get them to vote for us? Demonize landlords-Rent control-Regulations to give renters full rights and landlords none ! Voila we got the votes-we are in power !
So what happens to those loser landlords….Why lose money and get beat up? To hell with it…Get out. Build condos- Why build rentals when there’s nothing to be gained and much to lose?
It’s no wonder there are so few places to rent.
The only solution, now that the govt is running things, is for the govt to build rentals and price them so that they still get the votes.

1st April 2024 at 5:07 pm
Michael F

It is estimated that Canada is losing billions per year in tax revenues to wealthy individuals and corporations transferring wealth to foreign tax havens. A good start would be for Canada to find ways to stop this bleeding of government revenue. These funds could be directed into healthcare and housing.

The feds are already trying to lean on municipalities to speed up permitting and change land use bylaws. This is one of the major impediments to building more homes.

1st April 2024 at 2:39 pm
Valerie

The current land-use strategy is just fence-sitting: maintain high land costs but try to compensate, rather than ending the artificial scarcity of land for housing (and the rent-seeking it allows) entirely. It’s a way to not have to choose between lower prices for new homes (by creating many more small and low-end units) and maintaining prices for existing detached homes (by making every house a development opportunity).

1st April 2024 at 5:50 pm