Promise tracker: Affordable housing platform points
Since the election was called, the Conservative Party’s announcements on housing have been focussed on homeownership. In August, the Harper Government has promised that, if re-elected, they will increase the amount of money that first-time homebuyers can withdraw from their RRSPs tax-free (from $25,000 to $35,000) in order to facilitate the purchase of a home. The Conservatives have also pledged to create a new, permanent tax credit for home renovations to assist homeowners in repairing and upgrading their properties. Finally, Harper has promised to gather information on housing markets in an attempt to decrease the influence of foreign speculation on home prices in Canada.
The Conservatives have yet to make any commitments related to funding increases for the supply of affordable rental housing, combating homelessness, or reinvesting funds from the ongoing expiration of federal operating agreements.
In early September, the Liberals announced their affordable housing plan for Canada. If elected, the Liberals have promised that their Government will create a National Housing Strategy, which will include:
- New investment in affordable housing and senior’s housing, which will be part of the Liberals’ $20 billion commitment to social infrastructure;
- $125 million per year in tax incentives for the creation and renovation of affordable rental housing by eliminating the GST on all capital investments in affordable housing;
- An analysis of available federal lands that could be used for affordable housing creation;
- Methods to assist more Canadians with the financing required to achieve homeownership, including RRSP flexibility;
- Potential creation of a Canada Infrastructure Bank to support the creation of affordable rental housing.
The Liberal Party has announced support for non-profit and co-operative housing providers facing the expiration of federal operating agreements, but have yet to dedicate specific funding within their overall commitment to this issue.
In this campaign, the NDP has focussed on the federal responsibility for infrastructure and investment in municipalities. The NDP has made a number of campaign promises related to affordable housing, including:
- A commitment to supporting current federal investments in non-profit and co-operative housing facing end of operating agreements, and the creation of additional social housing units, by investing $2.2 billion over the next 4 years;
- Investing $500 million annually to encourage the creation of 10,000 new affordable rental units in 10 years;
- Supporting frontline homelessness services through an additional $40 million over four years;
- Restoring the Shelter Enhancement Program to assist women and families fleeing domestic violence;
- Investing $200 million over four years in home energy retrofit programs, assisting 50,000 homes and 15,000 apartments.
The NDP has also promised to appoint a Minister of Urban Affairs within the first 100 days of taking office. The Minister would be responsible for extending federal investments in social housing that are near the end of operating agreements.
The Greens have promised the introduction of a National Housing Plan, which would include a National Housing Strategy developed through the Council of Canadian Governments. The Plan includes a commitment to the creation of 20,000 new affordable housing units per year, and will be based on a Housing First philosophy. The Green Party has also promised to:
- Provide rent supplements and shelter assistance to an additional 40,000 households in need per year, for the next 10 years
- Invest $400-600 million a year to retrofit homes to increase energy efficiency and reduce utilities costs
- Invest $150 million annually to retrofit all low-income rental housing units
The Green Party has committed to renewing funding for non-profit and cooperative housing providers who have expiring operating agreements, and promised to increase access to affordable housing for First Nations.