Vote-rich, house-poor: How the federal parties plan to improve GTA housing affordability

As Election Day nears, CTV News Toronto is taking a deeper look into the issues that matter most to local voters, breaking down the party promises as they apply to Battleground: GTA.

THE ISSUE

The semi for sale on Coxwell Ave. needs work; the listing highlights its “strong bones” as an opportunity to renovate. But the small home, a prospective gut-job, will likely fetch a million dollars for its sellers.

“It’s run of the mill here, it’s run of the mill in Markham, it’s run of the mill in Newmarket—the GTA,” neighbour Sean Keay says of the price tag, as he eyes the exterior from the sidewalk.

“For buyers, it is very difficult,” broker Shabana Raja told CTV News Toronto.

“The supply and demand is just out of balance.”

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, housing advocates picket in front of a future market-condo site, calling on federal election candidates to do more to build affordable housing for those in need.

“It’s something that’s been bad for a long time and is just continuing to get worse,” protester Ryan Murdock said.

“Each level of government loves to say that they’re powerless to affect things when they all have things that they could do.”

“It’s really difficult,” Raja agrees. “We need to really change up things to make it more affordable for just the average person.”

THE BACKGROUND

As the average home price in Toronto hovers around the million-mark, the region’s affordable housing crisis continues to worsen. In an appeal to the vote-rich but house-poor GTA, the federal candidates are pitching various strategies to increase housing supply, assist first-time buyers, and limit foreign investment.

THE LIBERAL PROMISE

“We’ll crackdown on the predatory speculators that stack the deck against you,” Liberal leader Justin Trudeau pledged as part of his housing platform.

He says his party would ban foreign ownership of new homes for the next two years and spend $4 billion to build or revitalize 1.4 million homes over the next four years.

The Liberals would introduce a tax-free savings account to allow Canadians under 40 to save up to $40,000 towards their first home, double the first-time homebuyers tax credit and cut Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) insurance rates by 25 per cent.

They would also commit $1 billion in loans for rent-to-own projects and invest $2.7 billion in a co-investment fund for affordable housing.

THE CONSERVATIVE PROMISE

“We will ban foreign investors from purchasing homes here if they don’t intend to live in or move to Canada,” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole declared on the campaign trail.

That foreign ownership ban would be in place for two years under a Conservative government.

The Conservatives have also pledged to build a million homes over the next three years to increase supply and release 15 per cent of federal real estate for housing.

O’Toole’s Tories would also support seven-to-10-year mortgages, making changes to the mortgage stress test to help more Canadians qualify for financing, extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in a rental, and increase the limit on eligibility for mortgage insurance.

THE NDP PROMISE

“We want to get big money out of housing, particularly when it comes to buying your first home,” the New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said on Aug. 26

An NDP government says they would introduce a 20 per cent tax on the sale of homes to foreign buyers and double the first-time home buyer’s tax credit.

The party has also pledged to build half a million units of affordable housing over the next ten years and waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of affordable rentals.

The party has promised to re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC-insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time home buyers, offer CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages and Implement a $5,000-rental subsidy for those struggling to make rent.

THE GREEN PROMISE

“We need to declare housing and homelessness as national emergencies and twin crises,” Green Party leader Annamie Paul pledged on the campaign trail.

The Greens are promising to implement an empty home tax on foreign- and corporate-owned vacant properties and restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing.

The party says they would also invest in the construction and operation of 50,000 supportive housing units over 10 years, building and acquiring 300,000 units of affordable non-market, co-op and non-profit housing over a decade.

Paul’s party would also require that 30 per cent of housing developments that receive federal funding be deeply affordable or available to those with special needs.