Oakville North Burlington Federal Candidates Responses to Halton Region Question on Housing

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Due to the number of federal candidates for the Federal Riding of Oakville North Burlington, the questions that the Region of Halton asked will be broken down into each question. The first question deals with Housing.

Housing Question
The provision of safe, affordable, accessible housing is a critical component of fostering healthy communities. Municipalities across the country are actively working to make communities livable for everyone by ensuring access to housing for newcomers, young people, the middle class and seniors. For too many Halton residents, affordable homeownership remains out of reach. As Canadian municipalities are unable to keep up with the demand for affordable housing options, there is a clear need for long-term predictable funding and a national housing strategy to improve the lives of residents and strengthen communities.

How would you and your government support increased affordable and assisted housing in Halton Region? What would you do to move the creation of a national housing strategy forward?

Janice BestJanice Best – New Democratic Party
An NDP government will enact the Affordable Housing Act, a bill that recognizes housing as a right and calls for the development of a national housing strategy. We will work with provinces, municipalities and Indigenous communities to implement that strategy. Our commitment includes an increase to the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, as well as indexing the funding to inflation. We will continue to support the proven approach of Housing First, while also ensuring that the full range of services necessary for support and prevention are also eligible for funding. By increasing the stock of affordable housing and placing emphasis within our affordable housing strategy on vulnerable populations, we also hope to reduce the number of Canadians who are at risk of becoming homeless.

We will sustain investment in Canada’s affordable housing agreements, and provide incentives for the construction of 10,000 affordable and market rental housing units. The NDP is committed to renewing co-operative agreements that are set to expire and invest over $2 billion in co-ops and social housing by 2020.

clement_davidDavid Clement – Libertarian Party of Canada
The first step to ensuring affordable housing is making sure that Canadian citizens have more money in their pockets. Right now, Canadians pay more in taxes than they do for food, clothing and shelter combined. That is why the Libertarian Party wants to reduce taxes for all Canadians. The process for this is quite simple:

  1. Increase the Basic Exemption by over 50% to $17,300. This automatically means that every Canadian sees a dramatic increase in their tax free earnings
  2. Eliminate all tax credits in exchange for 4, $4,000 tax exemptions (Child, Disability, Senior and Student).
  3. Reduce taxes to a maximum rate of 15%

In practice, this means that families are immediately keeping more of their hard earned money. The average Oakville family saves over $5,500 per year under this system, and a low income family (under $42,000) would pay no taxes at the federal level. Having citizens keep more of their money is the first step to a more affordable life, and more affordable housing. If you would like to see this tax plan in action, click here (external link).

When it comes to a national housing strategy, I think these plans are destined to fail. Regional and local differences across this country make it extremely difficult to make a cohesive national strategy that actually gets the results that are needed. We oppose a national strategy in exchange for local and provincial programs. It should also be noted that whenever a political party talks about increasing funding for certain programs, they ultimately mean increasing taxes on Canadian citizens. The Libertarian Party feels that there are solutions beyond increasing taxes and simply spending more money to try and fix a problem. Our economic plan empowers Canadians, and will help lift thousands upon thousands of Canadians out of poverty.

Pam DamoffPam Damoff – Liberal Party of Canada
If elected, a Liberal government would propose a renewed federal role in housing, including investments in innovative programs for supportive housing and predictable and sustained new funding for affordable housing. Accordingly, part of our new ten-year investment of nearly $20 billion in social infrastructure will be prioritized for significant new funding in affordable housing and seniors facilities. To further encourage the construction of more retail housing, we will increase the new residential retail property rebate on the GST to 100%, eliminating all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing. We will also direct the CMHC and the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing to support construction of new affordable rental housing.

Other measures we will implement to increase access to housing will include making surplus federal land available for affordable housing at low cost, modernizing the Home Buyers’ Plan to allow Canadians impacted by sudden and significant life changes to access money from their RRSPs to buy a house without facing tax penalties, and undertake a review of home prices in high-priced markets such as the GTA to determine whether speculation is driving up the cost of housing and, if so, investigate policy tools available to keep home ownership within reach for average Canadians.

http://www.greenparty.ca/

http://www.greenparty.ca/

Adnan Shahbaz – Green Party of Canada
The Green Party is committed to affordable housing. Access to affordable, safe, and secure housing is an essential prerequisite to an equitable society. However, Canada is the only country in the OECD without a National Housing Strategy. Housing crosses all jurisdictions. The Green Party will work with the Council of Canadian Governments and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive National Housing Strategy.

The National Housing Strategy will:

  1. Include concrete steps for a seniors’ housing plan, a First Nations plan, a plan for social housing, and for affordable market housing;
  2. Create a Housing First Approach, a one on one outreach initiative that houses chronically homeless people and provides immediate support;
  3. Dedicate funding to the cooperative housing sector to enable more new affordable housing projects to proceed, while extending funding for coops whose contracts with the federal government are expiring;
    Retrofit all Canadian homes by 2030 to increase energy efficiency, cut heating and electricity bills, and reduce 80% of building emissions by 2040;
  4. Implement a Guaranteed Livable Income to help low income Canadians afford housing
    Eliminate Stephen Harper’s Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, which currently allows foreign investors to purchase Canadian properties and can drive housing prices up for Canadian families beyond their reach;
  5. Increase access to social housing for First Nations on and off reserve, while strengthening enforcement of living and maintenance standards through our proposed Council of Canadian Governments; and
  6. Ensure a percentage of all newly built units are reserved for affordable housing.

The Green Party is committed to stable and adequate annual funding for the construction of new rental housing. Our target is the construction of 20,000 new and 8,000 rehabilitated affordable housing units each year for the next decade.

To support home ownership, we also support indexing the GST New Home Rebate to inflation. Inflation has eroded this rebate to the point where too many no longer qualify for a full rebate. It no longer fulfils its purpose of helping new home buyers. Buying a home is turning into a pipe dream, especially for young families. The federal government promised to do its part to help maintain affordability. It is only fair to keep that promise. The Green Party also supports indexing the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan to the Consumer Price Index in $2,500 increments, to make sure that it remains a useful tool for people buying their first homes. We will work to ensure that mortgage amortization rates meet the needs of home buyers. We will also consider broadening the eligibility for the HBP to include individuals who have experienced a life changing event such as the death of a spouse or marital breakdown.

Effie TriantafilopoulosEffie Triantafilopoulos – Conservative Party of Canada
Over the last decade, the Conservative government has made significant investments into affordable housing in Halton Region.

The most recent federal budget reaffirms the Conservative commitment to ensuring low-income families and vulnerable Canadians have access to affordable housing options. Through targeted investments, Conservatives are committed to working with the provincial government and not-for-profit organizations to increase the supply, quality, accessibility and affordability of housing in Halton Region.

Conservatives are committed to spending more than $2.3 billion per year over the next four years to help ensure Canadians in need have access to affordable, sound and suitable housing. Of this amount, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will invest $1.7 billion annually to support 570,000 households that depend on social housing support. Further, the federal budget of 2013 announced $253 million per year, beginning in April 2014, to extend the Investment in Affordable Housing to March 31, 2019. Under this initiative, the Province of Ontario matches federal investments and has the flexibility to design and deliver programs that are tailored to address their local housing needs and pressures. Since the introduction of the Investment in Affordable Housing in 2011, over 205,000 households have benefitted from the initiative. The federal budget of 2013 also provided $119 million per year over five years to renew the Homelessness Partnering Strategy until 2018–19. Using a Housing First approach, support is provided to assist homeless individuals transition from shelters and the streets into stable housing. In addition to the federal investment in affordable housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Direct Lending activities offer low-cost loans to federally assisted social housing projects. In 2013, over $1.126 billion was provided in direct loans.

Finally, Conservatives believe that the foundation of safe, affordable, accessible housing is sound economic management. That is why Conservatives have a low-tax, balanced budget plan to protect Canada’s economy, create jobs and increase home ownership levels.

A re-elected Conservative Government would aim to add more than 700,000 new homeowners to Canada’s rolls by 2020. A re-elected Conservative Government will build on its record of supporting affordable, responsible homeownership for families by:

  1. Expanding the Home Buyers’ Plan from $25,000 to $35,000 so that first-time home buyers can withdraw savings tax-free to make their down payments.
  2. Maintaining the 2015 enhancement to Tax-Free Savings Accounts that allows annual contributions of up to $10,000 so that Canadians can save and invest even more of their hard-earned money tax-free.
    Implementing the new Home Accessibility Tax Credit which provides up to $1,500 to seniors and disabled Canadians to keep their homes safe and secure.
  3. Establishing a new permanent Home Renovation Tax Credit for home renovation expenses between $1,000 and $5,000.
  4. Collecting data on foreign buyer activity in Canada’s housing market and, as necessary, taking concrete action to address the issue in coordination with provinces.
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