Canada's housing crisis

Is the Federal Budget addressing the housing crisis?

What solutions does the 2021 Federal budget have for Canada’s housing crisis? 

Photo credit: Affordable housing now by fumigene via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

The housing crisis

During 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, houses were selling for between $452,000 and $2.85 million on Cortes Island.

The Quadra Island Real Estate team website is currently displaying prices ranging from $725,000 to $4.3 million.

No wonder a realtor recently told the Campbell River Mirror that first time buyers, with a downpayment, are opting for a cheap condo in the downtown area.

Close to 35% of Cortes Island’s population rent their homes. On Quadra Island, where rents are higher, the number is about 23%. A number of these people join the seasonally homeless every year, when their homes become vacation rentals

Taxing vacant homes owned by non Canadians

A large number of houses are vacant most of the year. 

This was the problem Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was trying to address in the 2021 Budget, when she announced, “Houses should not be passive investment vehicles for offshore money. They should be homes for Canadian families. So on January 1st, 2022, our government will introduce Canada’s first national tax on vacant property owned by non-resident, non-Canadians.” 

No one was watching the data

“I think it is a step. I have some appreciation of acknowledging that there is some empty housing, especially people who do not live in the community and are from other places … but the challenge is that I do not see a strategy addressing our housing needs,” said Rachel Blaney, MP for North Island – Powell River

“For the past 35 years we’ve seen two things happening at the same time. One, a decrease in how much supports the Federal and Provincial governments have been putting into housing strategy across the country. And the other side is that private investors were purchasing less and less housing to rent. These two things have been happening for the past 35 years. I’ve seen the graphs where, on both sides, they are slowly coming down. So the fact we are in a crisis actually makes a lot of sense when you look at the data. The problem is no one was watching that data.” 

In the podcast above: 

  • Local people being squeezed out of the market as prices keep going up and people from other areas purchase the available homes. 
  • Another gap is houses for people who want to age in their communities
  • The lack of housing means that women who want to flee violence often have no where to go. (This has been exasperated by the isolation during COVID.)
  • Local communities have solutions, they need the funding to put them into practise
  • Adding the right to housing to our Bill of Rights, as a reminder that the Federal government needs to keep ‘watching the ball’  

Core issues of rural communities

“We’re seeing the BC NDP step up quite a lot to help with housing across our riding and across British Columbia. We need the federal government to be a real partner, we’re still not seeing that. They keep talking about their rapid housing strategy … I really appreciate any kind of support that’s out there, but it is not addressing the core issues of smaller rural and remote communities,” said Blaney.

She added, “Even in the budget I remember highlighting a line that talks about the housing crisis being very much a reality in the urban centres and of course I represent smaller centres and I am hearing from a ton of people from small islands to the biggest city in our riding (Campbell River) the northern parts on the Mainland, Lund and Powell River. There is just not enough housing.”

Links of interest:

Top photo credit: Home for rent by Yann Cœuru via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Sign-up for Cortes Currents email-out:

To receive an emailed catalogue of articles on Cortes Currents, send a (blank) email to subscribe to your desired frequency:

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.