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NDP promises foreign buyers' tax, half a million new homes to cool housing market

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 1:54 pm EDT

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is pledging a hefty foreign home buyers’ tax and “massive” investment in housing to chill a boiling-hot real estate market.

Singh’s election campaign-style promise, unveiled today at a virtual news conference, proposes to pour $14 billion into housing construction to help build 500,000 units over four years.

It also aims to drive down increasingly unaffordable rental and home prices that have rippled beyond Toronto and Vancouver into outlying towns and cities from Nova Scotia to British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

The pledge seeks to outshine last month’s federal budget by the Liberals, who plan to spend $2.4 billion over five years on affordable housing and follow through on a pledge to tax non-residents who own vacant homes in Canada at one per cent of the assessed value.

In B.C., a 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax imposed in Metro Vancouver in 2016 — since raised to 20 per cent and expanded to other communities — had a short-term cooling effect, but prices have been on a stratospheric rise for the past two-and-a-half years, spiking at in recent months.

Experts say a countrywide tax on non-resident home buyers amounts to a ham-fisted approach to real estate, which comes down to local conditions, and could have unintended consequences in tourist spots such as Banff and Mont-Tremblant.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press