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Results: 1 - 15 of 61
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
One of the comments that was posted on social media from End Homelessness St. John's says:
[W]e cannot go back to normal—[to] a normal where over 235,000 different Canadians every year are homeless; where 1.7 million households live in substandard or unaffordable housing; where people are at life threatening risk for no other reason than they are poor and don't have a place to call home.
Is this comment that was posted accurate?
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:41
Yes. Across the country, that's what the data is showing.
Emergency shelter usage includes over 235,000 Canadians on an annual basis. Several more, obviously, are living in substandard and dilapidated housing conditions and are under-housed and overcrowded and just don't necessarily meet the traditional view of what people might think of homelessness. They're living in unsafe conditions. Of course, what the pandemic has shown is that you need safe conditions to isolate in. That is often missing for our most vulnerable neighbours across the country.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
As part of the six-point plan, one of the components is to call for a major housing stimulus package in the recovery for the federal government to invest in. It's calling for maintaining the $157 million per year of additional funding, an expansion of the rural and remote stream to $50 million per year, and developing a new funding stream of $75 million to prevent homelessness for women, children and youth. That's as a baseline.
From that perspective, that would be one component of the six-point plan. Another component is a national guaranteed minimum income, which is an essential piece, because poverty is tied into it. I wonder if you can comment on these two specific recommendations.
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:42
Yes, absolutely. In my earlier comments, I mentioned the need for government across all levels, including the federal and provincial governments, to work closely with income support systems when addressing housing and homelessness strategies.
We've seen a lot of individuals who are unable to maintain housing in the private market because their income levels allocated for rent are simply not enough. That's the case here in St. John's, where we have a healthy vacancy rate. It's further exacerbated in larger urban areas. In rural areas, for example, in parts of Labrador, we see that housing is incredibly difficult to acquire and the affordability concerns there resemble something that you might see in Toronto or Vancouver.
We absolutely support the notion around the idea of implementation of these basic needs, basic income types of programs, that will ensure people have the affordability component of housing secure.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to apologize in advance. The audio and video of what's happening around me aren't really good right now, but I think if you can hear me I'm going to move forward.
I want to thank our presenters for doing a great job in their presentations. I have some questions.
As Mr. Beaudoin rightly pointed out in his opening remarks, our federal government entrenched our commitment to undertaking a human rights-based approach to housing policy in Canadian law, so the National Housing Strategy Act was introduced and passed in the last Parliament.
I'll start with you, Mr. Pawson, and then I'll go to Mr. Beaudoin. In your view, how has the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for a human rights-based federal housing strategy?
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:53
I think the commitment made by the government to adopt housing as a human right is not just a symbolic gesture. It allows us to chart a path to ensure that folks who are experiencing homelessness or who may need to avail themselves of emergency shelter supports can be quickly moved into housing. To do that, we need more housing. Simply put, we need more housing and more supports embedded around it. This, to me, would ensure that housing as a human right can be actioned across Canada.
Jacques Beaudoin
View Jacques Beaudoin Profile
Jacques Beaudoin
2020-06-19 14:54
The crisis has really demonstrated the extent to which housing is a human right. It was a historic decision last year to enshrine this objective in an act of Parliament. We really saw in practice what that meant. All Canadians were asked to confine themselves, to respect emergency measures, to stay home. No one wanted this situation, and it was not desirable, but we could not have had a better demonstration of the fact that housing is a fundamental human right.
Having a home—where you can live in safety, where you're not overcrowded, where there are no families of five or six in one- or two-bedroom units, where the unit is big enough to meet your needs—allowed those who had access to that to respect containment. However, for those who did not have access to such a home, it was very difficult.
View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of the witnesses for being here.
I'll start with Mr. Perrault. In a report on the housing market that you did last month, you estimated that the rebound will be quick, partially because of a rebound in immigration.
I'm now wondering if you would change that prediction at all given the latest changes that CMHC has announced for tightening up of credit.
I might want to send that to Ms. Cooper, as well.
Jean-François Perrault
View Jean-François Perrault Profile
Jean-François Perrault
2020-06-18 16:33
No, we wouldn't change that. Our perspective on the changes by the CMHC is essentially that they're moving out of a market that is going to be serviced by the private sector providers. At the very margin, it might have an impact on housing market activity in the urban centres, but we don't think it's going to have a significant impact, as I said, because they're basically freeing up space for the private sector folks to go in. Whether that was the intention or not, I think that's what's going to happen.
The bigger issue in the housing market from our perspective is simply the supply-demand imbalance, which is that the housing market in Canada remains generally under-supplied. Population growth has been really strong. Because of COVID there's been a slowdown in construction activity, so these factors conspire, if you will, to put us in pretty good standing when we reopen and folks are more comfortable going back out.
That's part of what you're seeing, I think, in some of the housing market activity in June and May. There's a sense out there that folks need to jump on a property while they still can, because there still is a shortage, generally speaking.
Sherry Cooper
View Sherry Cooper Profile
Sherry Cooper
2020-06-18 16:35
I do. I think the immigration issue is a very important one for the economy as a whole, and certainly for the housing market specifically. Permanent residents in Canada are typically not welcome at the Canadian banks, particularly new Canadians. They are going through alternative lenders. They're borrowing money outside the country and they're also going into the private sector.
Our assessment is that the CMHC's changes will have very little impact.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
We floated the idea of a home energy retrofit program to help offset the demand on fuel for the economy of sustainable urban development. What role could your association play in more sustainable urban development?
Mary Van Buren
View Mary Van Buren Profile
Mary Van Buren
2020-06-05 12:43
We'd be happy to participate in any way we can.
Kevin Lee
View Kevin Lee Profile
Kevin Lee
2020-06-04 15:27
CHBA has very much welcomed the work of the government to provide emergency programs to support workers and businesses. We've also appreciated how responsive the government has been to feedback to make changes to close gaps and maximize impact. In particular, the Canada emergency business account and the Canada emergency wage subsidy program have helped support many businesses.
Changes to the reference period for the wage subsidy and the ability to use the cash or accrual accounting method have been very important, as have changes to CEBA to lower the minimum payroll threshold and to render dividends eligible. We're very thankful for those on-the-fly adjustments that have been made that have allowed many more of our challenged companies to qualify.
At the same time, though, as we have expressed in our ongoing dialogue with government, there remain outstanding challenges, particularly with regard to the wage subsidy program. The challenge is that in residential construction the revenue cycles are long and essentially 95% of the revenues don't accrue until the close of the home when the keys are handed to the homeowner. A sale made in early 2019, for example, with a small deposit of typically 5% is financed over many months or years, and revenue comes at closing.
Due to this revenue cycle, closings have still occurred in recent months from construction over the past year or years, but new sales have dried up. In these circumstances, many businesses haven't been able to meet the revenue-decline criteria of the wage subsidy program because of closings. Meanwhile, sales have plummeted and as a result many companies have very little or no new work and, therefore, no new financing and won't until sales pick up. As a result, they have laid off and will continue to lay off workers. Unfortunately, neither the changes to the reference period or to allow cash or accrual accounting capture this situation.
To make the program work better for this situation, CHBA has been recommending that the program criteria be amended to allow the fair value of contracts signed to be used in calculating the revenue. This would capture the steep decline in sales, which is the measure needed to capture these situations and keep workers employed or get them back.
A quick note, too, on financing is that our members will need to have the financial system meet the credit requirements of businesses trying to stay afloat in the short term and scale up construction over the longer term. Unfortunately, some of our companies are having issues securing the capital they need when opportunities present themselves during this difficult time, or to extend financing due to delayed closing and lost sales. It would be important that the measures put in place by government to provide more liquidity to the financial institutions actually translate into the financing requirements of businesses in our sector and other sectors.
As I know many of us are starting to think in these terms as well, I'd like to speak for a moment on recovery.
While the forecasts vary on the impact that COVID-19 will have on the housing market, there is no question that government policy can and should help to ensure housing markets remain stable, rather than dampen activity or slow the recovery. Housing can and should be a solid part of economic recovery as it has been in the past.
For those Canadians who have maintained their financial situation through the crisis, there should be opportunities for them to act on home ownership or to renovate their homes to meet the evolving needs of their situation. For many, COVID has placed new priorities on their needs and aspirations regarding their homes. A multiplier effect in residential construction to other related goods and services and jobs is extensive. Economic recovery and housing recovery go hand in hand.
In terms of recovery programming, the good thing about housing is that it can achieve many other policy objectives too. To that end, we have some recommendations.
One is removing the GST or HST on new housing across the continuum for 2020 and 2021 to improve affordability immediately, and post that period, index the existing rebate program to better reflect current house prices.
We recommend introducing a home renovation tax credit for 2020 and 2021 for all types of home renovations, and connected to that, a permanent energy retrofit tax credit to tackle climate change now and into the future.
As for mortgage financing, we need to encourage and enable those well-qualified Canadians still in a position to invest in home ownership to do so. Now more than ever, it makes sense to give them the option of a 30-year amortization on insured mortgages to help well-qualified buyers enter home ownership and also to free up much-needed rental space as our supply challenges remain.
It's also time to move forward with the previously announced changes to the stress test benchmark that were to come into effect on April 6 but were suspended.
Given the Bank of Canada's recommendation to move to longer-term mortgages, we also recommend supplementary changes to the stress test to better mitigate risks for Canadians and the financial system by incenting longer-term seven- and 10-year mortgage terms through a stepping down of the 200-point buffer for the longer-term mortgages with respect to the stress test.
These are changes that keep sound controls on consumer indebtedness risks while also enabling those still with the means and the dreams to achieve home ownership, this at a time when that activity can also be pivotal in the economic recovery.
Thank you very much. I look forward to any questions you may have.
View Marty Morantz Profile
CPC (MB)
I wanted to turn to that before; it's just that I had limited time. You discussed a couple of stimulatory measures in addition to having CMHC on side, which hopefully will happen. You talked about a reduction of the GST, maybe the elimination of the GST for a short period of time, and the home renovation tax credit.
From my perspective, these measures are fundamental to getting the housing market back up and running as quickly as possible. Have you had any discussions with government, other than with this panel, on the possibility of implementing these types of measures?
Kevin Lee
View Kevin Lee Profile
Kevin Lee
2020-06-04 16:44
Those are the types of recommendations we have been making. We have submissions on those. Obviously, times are tricky as we also try to figure out the current crisis and work to fix and deal with the current programs that are in place. As the government turns its mind to how we deal with the recovery, we're very anxious to have further discussions on these opportunities.
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