Canada is one of the few countries that doesn’t collect data on foreign investors, and that needs to change, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Making a stop at the Seaspan dock in North Vancouver, Harper said he wants the government to find a way to address the rising cost of housing.
“This province will probably have a lot to do with choosing who is the next prime minister of Canada,” said Harper. There are real concerns that foreign non-resident real estate speculation is the reason some Canadian families find house prices beyond their budgets.”
If re-elected, Harper said he will increase the tax-free withdrawals of his Home Buyer’s Plan from $25,000 to $35,000. Harper also promised that the government will begin collecting data on foreign speculation, to assess its impact on housing prices.
“Home ownership, itself, is a dream our government wants to help Canadians achieve.”
The idea of collecting data on foreign investors is nothing new to Vancouver, and has been discussed for years. In May, the New Democrat MP of Burnaby-Douglas, Kennedy Stewart, called on the federal government to make it a priority to conduct research on the number of properties under foreign ownership.
Last November, Stewart had also proposed an affordable housing strategy in the House of Commons that suggested examining and addressing the “potential impact of investor speculation and housing vacancies on the high price of real estate in urban markets.”
Countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand have dealt with foreign speculation through taxing tools. Australia limits the ability of foreign buyers to make purchases for investment purposes, but allows investment that will result in the construction of new homes. Foreign individuals that reside temporarily in Australia can purchase homes, provided that they live in it.
Handouts given at Harper’s rally explained that the Conservative Party of Canada is committed to the same principles as Australia.