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ELECTION: Local candidates explain how they'd tackle housing crisis

As the cost of living rises and the price of housing and rent skyrockets, the need for affordable housing has become an important election issue
House for sale

Editor's note: Ahead of the Sept. 20 federal election, OrilliaMatters contacted the five candidates in Simcoe North, asking each to answer, in 200 words or less, five key questions. In the final of our 5-part series, candidates weigh in on the housing crisis. For more information about the local election race, visit our CanadaVotes 2021 page.

Question: Housing is a human right. But many in Simcoe North are not able to afford a roof over their heads. The cost of living continues to rise while the price of housing and rent skyrockets well beyond affordability for the average person. What would your party do to address this?

Answer from People's Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Stephen Makk:
Housing is not a human right according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is, of course, a human need.  

Housing unaffordability is the result of five decades of irresponsible deficit spending and money-printing. When governments fund themselves this way, the rich get richer and real-estate asset bubbles develop.  

The PPC would address this through its fiscal, monetary and inflation management (covered in earlier question) to attack the affordability issue from the income side. Furthermore, we would reduce immigration to sustainable levels that do not drive up housing costs. We would discourage foreign speculation on residential real-estate.  

By freeing the economy from government meddling, there will be more incentives to invest in rental accommodation and new buildings that meet the needs of the greatest number of Canadians.  

Increasing worker productivity through better economic policies rather than direct transfers will let workers earn more and afford more. There is room to improve regulations related to housing, but federal politicians must be careful to note that the most relevant laws and rules are at the municipal and provincial levels.  

We would focus on free-market solutions, because where there is a demand within a free market, supply will be created.

Answer from Liberal candidate Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux:
There must be a process that convinces governments to work in tandem to secure safe and affordable housing for all.

We have seen through multiple housing initiatives, out of the cold, habitats for humanity, housing first, that housing people, individuals through families, is the least expensive way to govern and ensure people can work and contribute.

People safely housed are people who have better health outcomes, better mental health, with children who attend school regularly and graduate, they can care for their companion animals and are able to support their community and neighbourhoods.

Wiping out the ability of people to enter the housing market is cruel and buying up rental units and houses up for sale only to put them back on the market at extremely high rates must be regarded as criminal.

It ceases to be entrepreneurship when it makes innocent and financially challenged people and families suffer. That may seem like a radical statement, but how do we ensure people are held accountable unless there are strong rules and guidelines that safeguard people, ensure social justice and penalize greed? How do we legislate compassion and empathy for others?

Answer from Conservative candidate Adam Chambers:
Canadians need access to housing, including affordable options. Our plan includes initiatives to help reduce the cost of housing and keep it attainable for young Canadians and future generations: 

  • Building 1 million homes over the next 3 years;
  • Making it harder for foreign residents to buy existing single family homes, which will help increase supply;
  •  Encouraging Canadians to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing;
  • Building public transit infrastructure transit to where people are buying homes; and,
  • Reviewing the extensive real estate portfolio of the federal government and releasing at least 15% for housing

Answer from NDP candidate Janet-Lynne Durnford:

An NDP government will make it easier to rent or buy a home by taking the following actions:

  • Immediate rent relief
  • Build 250,000 rental units in 5 years, to a total 500,000 affordable rental units built in 10 years
    • Make available fast start funds and streamline the application process
    • Mobilize federal funds and under-used lands
    • Waive the federal portion of the GST/HST on new build rental units
  • Provide 30-year CMHC insured first mortgages for new home-buyers
  • Double the home buyer’s tax credit to $1,500
  • Facilitate co-ownership with CMHC back mortgages
  • Create a 20% foreign buyer’s tax, and a foreign buyers ownership registry

As your MP, I will ensure that our not-profit providers get the help they need to apply for funding, and we will ensure a speedy process for approving those requests

Answer from Green Party candidate Krystal Brooks:
I recognize that we are in a housing crisis and the cost of living is too high for both working and non- working individuals and families. It’s sibling crisis, homelessness, is equally concerning.

Both of these issues are in desperate need of appropriate, effective action. I believe strengthening the regulation of foreign investment in residential real estate and implementing a “vacancy” tax for foreign and corporate residential property owners who leave buildings and units empty are impactful solutions that will ensure the level of inadequate and unaffordable housing decreases.

By converting buildings and units to low- income housing, this will create a stronghold on society’s most vulnerable and that they are ensured their fundamental right to adequate and affordable housing.


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