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Canadian government addresses worsening housing affordability

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at May 11 2022 08:35 PM | Updated as of May 14 2022 10:38 AM

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Like many Filipino Canadian parents, property owner Pia Holba is worried that when her son grows up, he won’t be able to afford to buy his own home.

In its recent affordability report, the Royal Bank Of Canada or RBC found that at the close of 2021, housing affordability reached its worst level in 31 years.

RBC said another planned interest rate increase will further erode the Canadians' capacity to buy a home.  

"Kailangan din nilang tignan kung ano yung factors kung bakit tumataas yung mga bahay. Is it just a matter of giving funds or do we also look into how many properties are actually available na wala namang nakatira?," Holba said.

(They should also look at the other factors why home prices continue to increase. Is it just a matter of giving funds or do we also look into how many properties are actually available but aren't occupied?)

The federal government acknowledged that the lack of homes is a big concern among Canadians. That's why they're committed to building more affordable homes.

"We really need to increase the supply so that we can continue to provide more affordable housing in the future," Mississauga-Streetsville Member of Parliament Rechie Valdez said.

As for Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, he noted that more rent-to-own units will be built for renters.

"Our government will invest $4 billion in a new Housing Accelerator Fund to accelerate the building of 100,000 new homes by 2024, so in two years," Hussen said.

He added that Canada will also ban foreign ownership of homes in the next two years and will go after those who engage in unfair real estate practices that drive up home prices.

"That should provide more housing supply, free up more housing stock for first time homebuyers, while at the same time tackling excessive speculation in the market."

Valdez said the government also wants to help first-time homebuyers save enough money, tax-free, for their downpayment for a new home.

"For a first time home buyer, you get to put $40,000 tax free in, tax free out which is really important as well as doubling the first time homebuyers tax credit up to $10,000," she said.

Meanwhile, Valdez said students having difficulty paying their loans will have a temporary reprieve as those earning less than $40,000 a year won’t have to pay interest on their loan until March 2023.

"We're providing that forgiveness to them so that they can help with that transition. If we do not provide that type of transition for students, students will become discouraged and we don’t want that... All of us have gone through some unprecedented time over the past two years. And I'm just really excited for what this budget has to offer. Particularly, it's really about focusing on our future and creating jobs and prosperity for building that stronger economic future for all Canadians."

UBC graduate Jana Baltazar is glad for this help and shared that she can use the money instead for her other expenses.

"Malaking tulong po yun. Kahit konting allowance, mapupunta po yun sa ipon and gastos sa bahay lalo na po ngayong pandemya," Baltazar pointed out.

(That would help a lot. Even just a small allowance, that would go towards savings and bills for the house, especially now with the pandemic.)

Valdez gave her assurance that more help is coming, like free dental care for families earning less than $90,000 a year, and a 10% increase in the income supplement of low-income single seniors.