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Canada Votes 2021: Local candidates share their party’s plans for affordable housing

Ensuring the housing market is accessible to more Canadians is often held up as an election priority, but this year the issue of homelessness has also come to the fore
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With election day on Sept. 20, the time to make a decision is upon us. To help you parse where the party’s stand on the issues of the day, we sent a questionnaire to the candidates of the four parties with a member in parliament, as well as the People’s Party of Canada candidates.

Issues we polled the candidates on were climate change, affordable housing, Laurentian University and the post-secondary sector, the opioid crisis, Indigenous issues, vaccine passports, corporate taxation, universal basic income and mental health supports.

Questionnaires were sent to all candidates, though not all candidates chose to participate. As well, some candidates did not answer all questions provided. 

Nickel Belt Riding

What is your party's platform to making housing more affordable to all Canadians?

Andréane Chénier, NDP

A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. In many cities, including Sudbury, 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. 

The NDP will create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. We will work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers, to provide rental support for co-ops, and meet environmental energy efficiency goals, to achieve this. To spur the construction of affordable homes we will the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units  

These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families that are hurting get help now – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families do not have years to wait, when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why the NDP will provide immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing, while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis. 

While making affordable rental housing more available is critical, New Democrats believe that the dream of homeownership shouldn’t be forever out of reach for Canadian families. That’s why we will re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers.

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

Housing is a human right. The Green Party will take many actions toward making human-right housing a reality by instituting a GLI and refocusing the core mandate of CMHC to support the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

Housing is more critical than ever and affordable housing is a top issue this election in Nickel Belt. So far we’ve created Canada’s National Housing Strategy, an ambitious ten-year plan to invest over $72 billion to build supply, making housing affordable, and address chronic homelessness. Locally $17 million was recently awarded to Coniston for a 55 unit affordable housing building for seniors, and $1.1 million for 6 new homes in Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. A re-elected Liberal government will reduce the price charged by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation on mortgage insurance by 25 per cent. For a typical homebuyer, this will save $6,100. We will also increase the power of federal regulators to respond to housing price fluctuations and ensure a more stable Canadian housing market. We will crack down on foreign ownership, protect the security and stability of the housing market and permanently increase funding to the National Housing Co-Investment fund by a total of $2.7 billion over 4 years, more than double its current allocation. These are just of the measures proposed.

What does "affordable" mean under your party's plan? Does it include lower-income Canadians and how?

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

Every party claims to want to make housing more affordable. Affordable under the Green Party’s plan means more market access to young and lower-income Canadians and developing different solutions for different housing needs.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

In Canada, housing is considered “affordable” if it costs less than 30 per cent of a household’s before-tax income. Many people think the term “affordable housing” refers only to rental housing that is subsidized by the government. In reality, it’s a very broad term that can include housing provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors. It also includes all forms of housing tenure: rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing.

How will your party combat homelessness from transitional housing to affordable housing?

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

The Green Party will combat homelessness from transitional housing to affordable housing by providing the homeless with a GLI, mental-health supports, increased investment in alternative housing (Co-op, Tiny Homes,) and job training programs.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

In 2017, we announced that we would reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent. So, we got to work, launching over 1,200 projects and helping over a million people find a place to call home and $7.1 million was recently allocated to Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury directly. 

Building on our plan we will:

  • Appoint a new Federal Housing Advocate within the first 100-days of a new mandate to ensure the federal government’s work toward eliminating chronic homelessness, as well as other housing commitments, are fulfilled.
  • Move forward with our plan to invest in Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy to support communities across the country.

The Housing Plan will support the construction of 100,000 middle class homes, helping more families achieve the goal of home ownership, while also building more than 20,000 more units of new affordable rental housing, and ensuring 130,000 units are revitalized from a state of critical disrepair.

Since 1946, we’ve been a vital partner in helping Canadians access high-quality affordable housing. The federal government, through CMHC, invests $2 billion every year to ensure Canadians in need can access suitable housing.

The National Housing Strategy – Canada’s first ever – was announced on November 22, 2017 with the goal of making sure Canadians across the country can access housing that meets their needs including building more affordable, accessible, inclusive and sustainable homes.

Sudbury Riding

What is your party's platform to making housing more affordable to all Canadians?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

A re-elected Liberal government will:

  • Support the construction of 100,000 middle-class homes, helping more families achieve the goal of home ownership, while also building more than 20,000 more units of new affordable rental housing, and ensuring 130,000 units are revitalized from a state critical disrepair—an element completely ignored in the Conservative plan—and helping thousands of families per year access better housing that works for them.
  • Reduce the price charged by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation on mortgage insurance by 25%. For a typical homebuyer, this will save $6,100.
  • Move forward on our plan to launch a pilot program next year that will provide rent supplements and wrap-around supports to homeless Veterans, so that they can get the housing and services they need. Also introduce a Veterans stream to the Rapid Housing Initiative which will see new affordable housing become available for Veterans.

Colette Methé, People’s Party of Canada

Housing costs have increased approximately 70 per cent since the Trudeau government came into power. They have invested billions of dollars and created various bureaucratic programs that don’t seem to work.  For example, criteria for qualifying for mortgage and tax breaks for first time buyers. There’s a problem with supply and demand and the provinces and municipalities are making it worse with these programs. Housing is a municipal and provincial responsibility. There’s nothing the federal government can do to change the zoning bylaws.  There are some changes that can be made at the federal level. The PPC can change other aspects such as modifying the Bank of Canada’s inflation target from three per cent to zero per cent, that would decrease inflation in all sectors including housing. 

David Robinson, Green Party

We plan to invest in the construction and operation of 50,000 supportive housing units over 10 years and to build and acquire a minimum of 300,000 units of deeply affordable non-market, co-op and non-profit housing over a decade. Throwing money at people so they can buy homes at outrageous prices only makes the problem worse. 

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

The Conservative Party recognizes that we are not building enough homes to keep up with Canada’s growing population. This is a big part of why homes are getting harder and harder for Canadians to afford. There is also a lot of foreign money flowing into  Canada’s housing market. Some of it is being funded through money laundering and the proceeds of crime as the inquiry currently going on in BC. In other cases, foreign investors are sitting on the investments and leaving homes empty. This pushes up prices, putting homeownership out of reach for more and more Canadians. Canada’s  Recovery Plan will address both of these issues and will make homes more affordable — for owners as well as renters. As part of our plan, we will: 

  • Implement our plan to build one million homes in the next three years.
  • Review the extensive real estate portfolio of the federal government – the  largest property owner in the country with over 37,000 buildings – and  release at least 15 per cent for homes. 
  • Build more homes near publicly funded transit. 
  • Provide more Canadians with a path to homeownership by making it easier for more families to get a mortgage.  
  • Ban foreign investors from buying homes here if they are not planning to move to Canada. 
  • Encourage foreign investment in affordable purpose-built rental housing for Canadians. 
  • Stabilize the real estate market by increasing the number of homes being built and addressing unfair and corrupt practices that have driven up  prices, such as money laundering. 

Nadia Verrelli, NDP

A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country. In many cities, including Sudbury, 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. 

The NDP will create at least 500,000 units of quality, affordable housing in the next ten years, with half of that done within five years. We will work in partnership with provinces and municipalities, build capacity for social, community, and affordable housing providers, to provide rental support for co-ops, and meet environmental energy efficiency goals, to achieve this. To spur the construction of affordable homes we will the federal portion of the GST/HST on the construction of new affordable rental units  

These measures will help address the housing crisis at the source, but we also need to make sure that families that are hurting get help now – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families do not have years to wait, when every day is a struggle and a constant worry. That’s why the NDP will provide immediate relief for families that are struggling to afford rent in otherwise suitable housing, while we bring forward long-term solutions to the housing affordability crisis. 

While making affordable rental housing more available is critical, New Democrats believe that the dream of homeownership shouldn’t be forever out of reach for Canadian families. That’s why we will re-introduce 30-year terms to CMHC insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first time home buyers.

What does "affordable" mean under your party's plan? Does it include lower-income Canadians and how?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

Fifty-five percent of people in core housing need are women-led households. Immigrant women are at an even greater risk of housing insecurity because they are often financially dependent on their spouse or family. Increasing the supply of affordable housing, protecting renters from evictions, facilitating multi-generational living, and working to end chronic homelessness will benefit women in all their diversity, as well as other vulnerable groups including LGBTQ2, Indigenous persons and youth.

  • We need homes in urban centres that are built for middle-class families, with the amenities to match, like accessible child care and public transit. 
  • We need affordable housing for vulnerable people like women and children fleeing violence, persons with disabilities, and youth. 
  • We need a co-developed housing plan for Indigenous people living in urban, rural, and northern off-reserve communities. 
  • And for aging parents and grandparents planning their future, or for newcomers who need more space for a growing family, we need to support multi-generational living to encourage downsizing and aging well at home.

The fact is, ensuring families have access to early learning and child care is not just a social issue — it is an urgent economic issue. The pandemic has exposed what parents have long known. Without access to affordable child care, parents, mostly mothers, can’t work. This is a universal issue that is resonating across sectors, regions, and income brackets.

We believe that no one should be deterred from pursuing an education because costs make it unaffordable. That’s why we will permanently eliminate the federal interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans.

David Robinson, Green Party

We believe everyone has a right to secure housing, including lower-income Canadians. The only path that can get us there is to build enough co-op, publicly owned, and non-profit housing that the price of housing in the market stops rising faster than wages. This is not going to be popular with the real estate industry or the banks.

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

We have an affordability crisis. When basic items such as food, clothing, energy and housing are rising at historical rates this affects the low-income earners and fixed  income earners such as seniors disproportionately to others. Pumping billions of government dollars into a low production economy and disrupted global supply chains has caused inflation to rise. Prices have risen as a result of the current Liberal government policies. We need to restore public finances to stop the bleeding, create more jobs to grow our economy and production of goods and services, and support our low income and fixed income earners with programs targeted to their needs.

How will your party combat homelessness from transitional housing to affordable housing?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

Mental illness affects everyone, but systemic inequalities such as racism, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination often augment the symptoms of mental health especially if support is not available. Our plan to make significant investment in mental health will directly benefit all Canadians and provide a heightened benefit to those who faced barriers due to cost or availability.

A re-elected Liberal government will: 

  • Appoint a new Federal Housing Advocate within the first 100-days of a new mandate to ensure the federal government's work toward eliminating chronic homelessness, as well as other housing commitments, are fulfilled. 
  • Move forward with our plan to invest in Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy to support communities across the country.
  • Support the construction of 100,000 middle-class homes, helping more families achieve the goal of home ownership, while also building more than 20,000 more units of new affordable rental housing, and ensuring 130,000 units are revitalized from a state critical disrepair—an element completely ignored in the Conservative plan—and helping thousands of families per year access better housing that works for them.
  • Move forward on our plan to launch a pilot program next year that will provide rent supplements and wrap-around supports to homeless Veterans, so that they can get the housing and services they need. 
  • Introduce a Veterans stream to the Rapid Housing Initiative which will see new affordable housing become available for Veterans.
  • Work with Indigenous partners to co-develop an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy and support this strategy with dedicated investments. 

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

To address homelessness, Canada’s Conservatives will: 

  • Re-implement the Housing First approach, which has been watered down by the current federal government, to aid in the fight against Canada’s addictions crisis.
  • Revise the federal government’s substance abuse policy framework to make recovery its overarching goal.  
  • Increase health care transfers from current levels to $60 billion dollars over true next ten years to fund mental health initiatives.  
  • Invest $325 million over the next three years to create 1,000 residential drug treatment beds and build 50 recovery community centres across the country.