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Scheer pledges to make mortgages longer, remove stress test for renewals

Last Updated Sep 23, 2019 at 10:32 am EDT

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks at a campaign event in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec on Thursday September 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is laying out a plan this morning he says will make it cheaper for Canadians to buy a home.

Scheer says he’d return to allowing people to take out 30 year mortgages to help lower monthly payments, and ease what’s known as the stress test on mortgages, and remove the test altogether from mortgage renewals.

A Conservative government would also make surplus federal real estate available for development to increase housing supply, and launch an inquiry into money laundering in the real estate sector.

“Justin Trudeau has put the dream of home ownership further out of reach for so many, especially young Canadians,” Scheer said. “As Prime Minister, I will fix his bad policies and work to get more homes on the market to lower the price of housing.”

In moving to increase the lengthy of mortgages, Scheer would reverse a decision taken by the last Conservative government.

Beginning in 2008, the Harper Conservatives began reducing the maximum mortgage amortization rate for insured mortgages, starting with knocking it down from 40 to 35 years, and in 2011 reduced it to 30 years.

In 2012, former finance minister Jim Flaherty reduced it further to 25 years, saying it would help bring interest payments down and allow people to pay off their mortgages faster.

The move at the time was meant to address the growing debt burden on Canadians.

Statistics Canada reported in August that the median mortgage debt of Canadian families with a mortgage almost doubled from 1999 to 2016, rising from $91,900 to $180,000 in 2016 constant dollars.

Scheer is campaigning today in the Toronto-area suburb of Vaughan and then moves on to St. Catharines, Ont.