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Simcoe-Grey candidates weigh-in on affordable housing

CollingwoodToday asked local candidates how their parties would address the skyrocketing prices of housing in Simcoe-Grey, here are their answers
Simcoe-Greycandidates
Simcoe-Grey candidates for the federal election include: Top L-R Bren Munro (Liberal), Nick Clayton (Green), Terry Dowdall (Conservative), Lucas Gillies (NDP), bottom row l-r Adam Minatel (PPC) and Ken Stouffer (Christian Heritage Party).

CollingwoodToday.ca asked each of the federal candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidate’s platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.

Visit collingwoodtoday.ca/canadavotes2021 for more coverage of the federal election. Voting day is Sept. 20 and advance voting starts Sept. 10.

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Q: Housing is a human necessity. But many in Simcoe-Grey are not able to afford a roof over their heads. The cost of living continues to rise while the price of housing and rent skyrockets well beyond affordability for the average person. What would your party do to address this?

Lucas Gillies, NDP: The housing crisis is at the point where people my age and young families can only afford to buy a house if they have rich parents. Over 1.6 million Canadian households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. 

There aren’t enough houses, especially affordable homes. New Democrats have pledged to build 500,000 affordable houses within the next 10 years, with the first half being completed in the first five years. 

We will provide rental support for co-ops and to meet environmental efficiency goals for housing. We will provide resources to facilitate new ideas such as co-housing and co-ownership, which will help both young people and seniors. We will waive the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units.  

The NDP will reintroduce the 30-year insured mortgages for first-time home buyers and help with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500. 

We will also implement a 20 per cent tax on foreign investment in housing to try and take big money out of housing that is driving up the costs of homes by people trying to make money, instead of wanting to live in a home and build a neighbourhood.

Adam Minatel, PPC: Our housing market has, for too long, been an open market for middle eastern, Asian and investment corporations who leave the properties empty, and submit massive tax breaks (home countries), while increasing their profit margin from sales. 

The real estate market has become a volatile market as well where realtors are using foreign investment brokers to purchase homes through their agencies (see Vancouver open source). Municipal governments are also to blame for this issue, as they have created so much red tape for developers to build homes, and have saddled the industry with excessive costs to operate and procure permits. 

We are the only party who oppose capital gains taxation on your homes, as we respect your rights to ownership, as well as inheritance taxation abolishment, leaving funds for Canadains!

Bren Munro, Liberal: The current National Housing Strategy is a 10-year, $70 billion plan that is creating a new generation of housing in Canada. 

Our strategy is focused on:

  • Creating new housing supply,
  • Modernizing existing housing,
  • Making resources available through Community Housing Providers, and
  • Expanding innovation and research.

We need to continue building on this progress. 

Our Liberal plan includes:

  • Creating a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights to make the process of buying a home fairer, more open and transparent, and ensure homes are for people and families. 
  • Creating 20,000 purpose-built rental units.
  • Preserving 30,000 existing social and community housing units that would otherwise be lost.
  • Helping renters become owners and save for a down payment faster, by reducing the monthly costs of mortgages, and doubling the Home Buyers Tax Credit to help young Canadians buy their first home sooner.

We will continue to work with the provinces and municipalities, as well as local mayors and councils to get homes built where they’re needed most. We will also encourage better and faster planning decisions and target federal funding to help create affordable, safe homes for all. 

Ken Stouffer, CHP:  A stronger economy means more jobs, and more jobs give people more options for bettering their lot in life, e.g. moving up to a better paying job.  

Elimination of carbon taxes will put money back in everyone’s pockets. 

Putting a stop to reckless government spending will help to curb inflation which will help preserve the value of money being set aside for a down payment.  

The government shouldn’t get into the business of building affordable housing, but it should remove obstacles so that it’s viable for businesses and not-for-profits to do so.

Nick Clayton, Green: When people can’t afford to live in the communities in which they work, problems arise, not the least of which is poverty and food insecurity. The local economy also suffers, and there are labour shortages, as we are currently experiencing.

One part of the solution is to decrease the gap between earnings and housing costs in communities. A guaranteed livable income will help achieve this, as it sets the floor for wages based on the cost of living in a given area. 

Another solution is to stabilize home prices (prices go up fast, but rarely come down, and we want to avoid a housing bubble, which has been threatening for years now). I would support an “empty home tax” on foreign buyers and investors, and even second properties used as rental properties. This would help correct the cost of housing to keep it more in line with local economies, thus making housing more attainable.

Another federal solution is to increase funding for cooperative and non-profit housing. Since the 1990’s, federal investment in housing has plummeted. We need a national strategy that removes much of the financial and regulatory burden from municipalities so they can get on with creating spaces. 

Terry Dowdall, Conservative: We have a housing crisis in Canada. It is especially acute here in Simcoe-Grey. The primary cause is that supply simply isn’t keeping up with demand. Governments, for whatever reasons, have not let Canadians build enough housing to keep up with our growing population. We need action now.

Conservatives will immediately review the extensive 37,000 buildings real estate portfolio of the federal government and release at least 15 per cent for housing. 

We will ban foreign investors not living in – or moving to – Canada from buying homes here for a two year period. 

We will incent developers to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing. 

We will also enhance the viability of using Community Land Trusts for affordable housing by creating an incentive for corporations and private landowners to donate property for the development of affordable housing

We will encourage a new market in seven- to ten-year mortgages to provide stability for first-time home buyers. We will remove the requirement to conduct a stress test when a homeowner renews a mortgage with another lender. This will increase competition and help homeowners access more affordable options.