NDP belittles Erin O’Toole’s promised ban on foreign homebuyers as not good enough

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      New Democrats want Canadians to know that they’re the toughest guys on the September 20, 2021 election campaign trail against foreign homebuyers.

      The NDP has released a statement criticizing the plan of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole to ban foreign purchases of homes.

      The Conservative Party of Canada's election platform promises to ban foreigners not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes for a two-year period.

      On social media, O’Toole said foreign homebuyers will be prohibited “if they don’t plan on living here”.

      For New Democrats, that’s not good enough.

      In a statement Thursday (August 19), the NDP stated that O’Toole’s plan “leaves [a] massive loophole for foreign housing speculators”.

      “In other words, a foreign speculator can get around the ban by pretending they plan to move in Canada at some point in the future, without providing any details or timelines,” the statement asserted.

      Moreover, “O’Toole’s plan is unenforceable and won’t do anything to tackle foreign real estate speculation.”

      The statement went on to say that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, for his part, will slap a 20 percent tax on home purchases by those who are neither Canadians nor permanent residents.

      Foreign homebuyers have also come in the crosshairs of federal Liberals led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

      In the 2021 budget, the Trudeau government introduced a one percent tax on homes owned by foreigners, which will start on January 1, 2022.

      In April this year, Keith Stewart, economist with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, pointed out that the “vast majority” of homes are owned by people living in Canada.

      These properties are held either by owner-occupants or people who invest in these homes and rent them out, the REBGV economist explained in a phone interview with the Straight.

      Stewart’s point: a tax on properties other than those owned by residents in Canada is a “pretty fringe measure”.

      Regarding foreign owners, the share of non-Canadians in home purchases in British Columbia has steadily declined since 2016.

      That was the year when the B.C. Liberal government imposed a foreign buyer tax, a levy that was subsequently increased and expanded by the succeeding B.C. NDP government.

      Based on figures compiled by the B.C. Real Estate Association, foreign buyers accounted for only 1.4 percent of homes sold in the province in 2020.

      This was partly on account of the restrictions on international travels due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Updated numbers from the BCREA indicate that while there were almost no foreigners bidding for homes, the average price of a B.C. residence rose to $781,561 in 2020, marking an 11.6 percent increase from 2019.

      Just the same, in a statement on August 18, the NDP’s Singh cited a “need to kick out big money investors” from Canada, a country that prides itself for multiculturalism.

      “No one can win a bidding war against investors with deep pockets who are looking to turn a profit, not build a neighbourhood,” Singh declared.