With Canadians heading to the polls in a federal election this month, the Green Party of Canada has released its election platform, which includes a section on housing.
Here are 10 things to know.
1. The Green Party commits to changing the core mandate of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). They say they would “re-focus” it “on supporting the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing, as opposed to its current priority of supporting Canadian lenders to de-risk investment in housing ownership.” They further add that “individual home ownership should not be the preoccupation of a public service housing agency and a national housing strategy.”
2. The Green Party pledges to establish a national moratorium on evictions. They further state that it would remain in place until the COVID-19 pandemic “is over and for a reasonable time thereafter…” There are at least three challenges with this proposal. First, it encroaches on provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Second, it would limit the ability of landlords to evict tenants who are unruly and disruptive (which in turn can create challenges for other tenants). Third, it complicates landlords’ rent collection and their ability to make payments of their own (e.g., for repairs to the building, to pay their staff, etc.).
3. They propose the creation of “national standards to establish rent and vacancy controls.” They provide no details on this commitment, which also encroaches on provincial/territorial jurisdiction.
4. The Greens commit to implementing a Residential Tenant Support Benefit. They say they’d “provide a retroactive residential arrears assistance program to protect Canadians at risk of eviction or of being driven into homelessness due to accumulated rent arrears…” They do not provide further details.
5. The Green Party promises to limit foreign investment and “end predatory practices in residential real estate.” Specifically, they say they’d: raise the “empty home” tax for foreign and corporate residential property owners who leave units vacant; make it harder for foreign investors to hide the names of properties; and reduce money laundering in Canadian real estate.
6. The Green Party would invest in “affordable, non-profit, co-operative and supportive housing.” They say they would: fund the purchase of buildings by non-profit and cooperative housing providers; expand the Rapid Housing Initiative; invest in both the construction and operation of 50,000 supportive housing units over 10 years; build and acquire 300,000 units of “deeply affordable non-market, co-op and non-profit housing over a decade;” restore tax incentives for the construction of purpose-built rental housing; provide tax credits for gifts of land and buildings, to community land trusts; and remove GST when developers rent out condos.
7. The Greens commit to increasing “access to housing for people with disabilities.” Specifically, they say they’d require that housing developments that receive federal funding ensure that 30% of all units in each development be “deeply affordable and/or available to people with disabilities and special needs.”
8. The party makes several vague commitments pertaining to Indigenous peoples. They propose legislative changes allowing Indigenous organizations to access CMHC financing for “self-determined housing needs.” They say they’d transfer federal land to “off-reserve Indigenous organizations to create housing and economic development opportunities.” They also say they would establish a housing support program for Indigenous communities.
9. The party makes vague commitments pertaining to homelessness. These include the provision of “expanded mental health services for the homeless community;” assistance for municipalities for persons experiencing homelessness who use drugs; and support for Housing First.
10. The Greens make specific commitments pertaining to youth homelessness. They say they’d provide funding for youth shelters, remove “shelter maximum stays for youth,” provide “guidance counselling and therapy” for homeless youth, and fund co-op housing for youth.
In sum. The Green Party’s pitch about re-focusing CMHC’s core mandate is bold, and their platform focuses a lot on homelessness. However, most of the Green Party’s commitments lack nuance, and many encroach on provincial/territorial jurisdiction. I get the impression party officials have spoken extensively to grassroots activists, and less so to experienced practitioners.
I wish to thank the following individuals for assistance with this blog post: Michel Laforge, Doug Pawson, Sylvia Regnier, Vincent St-Martin, Alex Tétreault and several anonymous reviewers.
The analysis and interpretations contained in this blog post are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.