Although widely criticized by the industry and economic analysts, Premier Christy Clark’s surprise implementation of a 15% foreign buyers property transfer tax could possibly be boosting her popularity among general voters.
The latest Angus Reid Institute survey on the approval ratings of Canada’s premiers found that Clark’s approval increased by 7%, improving from 27% to 34%, since spring. This is her most significant popularity increase since being re-elected in the 2013 election.
“While we can’t attribute the jump in Premier Clark’s job approval to one thing, we do know anxiety over housing affordability and access to the real estate market has been the number one issue for people living in Metro Vancouver – which, due to its population base, is a significant driver of public opinion,” Shachi Kurl, executive director of Angus Reid Institute, told Daily Hive.
“We also know that people living in this region overwhelmingly approved of the imposition of 15% tax on foreign property buyers by the Clark government.”
A previous survey by Angus Reid also found that 90% of residents in Metro Vancouver support the new tax on foreign buyers, but some of the positive upswing from the swift policy decision could also be countered by perceptions that Clark waited too long. Eight in 10 people say that the provincial government should have taken action on the housing market much earlier, and this includes 75% of those who voted for the BC Liberals in the 2013 election.
In addition to the new housing tax, Clark’s government has also ended the self-regulation of the real estate industry through the Real Estate Council of BC after a review of shadow flipping and other shady realtor practices.
On Monday, the government announced that Michael Noseworthy had been appointed the first ever Superintended of Real Estate for BC. And last week, it also committed $500 million to build and acquire 2,900 units of affordable rental housing in the province.
Clark currently ranks as the fourth most popular Premier in Canada, behind Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall at 57%, Manitoba’s Brian Pallister at 53%, and Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil at 38%. She is more popular than Alberta’s Rachel Notley, who has a 31% approval rating in the midst of the province’s worst recessions in generations.
Sitting dead last is Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne with just 20% following the controversy over the sale of Hydro One and the resulting rise in hydroelectricity rates.