Everyone deserves the right to a safe and affordable place to call home. For too many Canadians, a home they can afford is increasingly out of reach due to skyrocketing rents, renovictions and ballooning home prices.
Canada is in the midst of a national housing crisis impacting every area of the country: Average rents rose in every single province last year, and 1.6 million Canadian households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.
What this means in real terms is that families in our communities are facing constant stress and impossible choices between rent or food; living in substandard housing or relocating out of their community; or worse, the real risk of homelessness. This is a very real struggle for so many on Vancouver Island and across the country.
Our current housing crisis started in 1993, when the Federal Liberals cancelled the National Affordable Housing Program. As a result, this country lost out on half a million units of affordable housing that would otherwise have been built.
The impact is real and significant. Everywhere I go, I hear from people who tell me that they are worried about their housing situation, whether that be being unable to afford a mortgage, or the squeeze of rising rents.
A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. One in three Canadians is a renter. In many places, what few affordable apartments there are get snapped up quickly, and people end up living in either inadequate housing or simply forced to spend a huge chunk of their income on rent.
We need to create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years. This can be achieved with the right mix of effective measures that work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, and build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers to provide rental support for co-ops, and meet environmental energy efficiency goals.
We also need to waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units – a simple change that will help get new units built faster and keep them affordable for the long term.
For those trying to buy their first home we must immediately re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers. This will allow for smaller monthly payments, freeing up funds to help make ends meet for young families. The Home Buyer’s Tax Credit should also be doubled to $1,500.
The federal government is the largest landowner in the country, with much of that land unused or underused. We must make federal lands available for new home construction and turn those properties into new, vibrant communities.