In recent years, I’ve talked to countless workers and young couples who told me they were leaving the province because they couldn’t afford to buy a home and raise a family in B.C.
We’ve all heard stories of how the housing crisis is hurting people’s lives — stories of seniors living out of their cars, families sharing one-bedroom apartments and young workers leaving our province because they saw no future here.
This crisis didn’t arise overnight. Years of government inaction allowed the housing market to spiral out of control, hurting hard-working people who are simply trying to build a life for themselves. The last government turned a blind eye while speculators, satellite families and foreign owners took advantage of a hot real estate market that was missing basic regulatory safeguards. People are frustrated by an unfair real estate market where those who have played by the rules have been falling further and further behind.
Our government is cleaning up this mess. We believe that speculation, dirty money and unethical behaviour have no place in B.C.’s real estate sector. We believe that people who have benefited the most from the housing crisis should contribute more. We are working to make life more affordable for everyone, not just those at the top.
We started tackling the housing crisis immediately. In February, we increased and expanded the foreign buyers tax and started asking those with homes worth over $3 million to start contributing more. We have moved forward with groundbreaking transparency measures to prevent tax evasion, including a registry for pre-sale condos and tracking beneficial ownership of property in our province. And we announced a first-in-the-country speculation and vacancy tax to help ensure that housing is there for people, not to shelter offshore assets.
People in B.C. want their government to help bring the housing market back to balance. Polls have repeatedly confirmed that people support the speculation and vacancy tax, regardless of their age, gender or political affiliation.
The speculation and vacancy tax targets foreign owners, satellite families and people who leave housing sitting empty in our major urban centres. It is specifically designed to find those who own property in B.C. but pay little to no income tax here, and make sure they are paying their fair share. Experts and advocates agree this is the right approach, because the speculation and vacancy tax helps make sure housing is available for local workers, not offshore investors.
The speculation and vacancy tax is a key part of our 30-point plan to address housing affordability, along with our work to crack down on tax evasion in condo pre-sales, ending hidden ownership and addressing money-laundering in real estate. Together, these actions will help get rid of dirty money, curb demand and stabilize our housing market.
There are already signs that our measures are helping to cool the market. The latest statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show that demand is moderating and there is less upward pressure on home prices across the region. And foreign investment in residential real estate has decreased since we increased and expanded the foreign buyers’ tax in February.
Reining in an out-of-control housing market isn’t easy. Doing the right thing often isn’t. But our government believes in doing the right thing for all British Columbians, not just the few, because the people who live and work in our province deserve to be able to afford a home here.