Residential builders asking federal government to help new home buyers

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Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

As Housing Minister Sean Fraser criss-crosses the country handing cheques from the federal housing accelerator fund to local municipal officials, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) is asking for policy changes to address housing affordable and accessibility.

One recommendation in RESCON’s pre-budget submission to the federal government is to drop the HST for first-time buyers who purchase new homes. Click this link to read the submission.

“Immediate action is needed as we are in a crisis that is likely to get worse. First-time buyers are leaving our cities in droves because they’ve been priced out of the market,” RESCON President Richard Lyall said. “The measures we are suggesting would boost supply and help homebuilders construct housing that is financially viable and affordable. We cannot simply sit on our hands and hope for the best as the challenge facing our industry is formidable.”

There are three specific practical measures the federal government can take to address housing supply and affordability.

RESCON is asking the government for an immediate and full rebate of the HST on new home purchases for first-time buyers and also re-introduce measures such as limited dividend programs and tax deferral policies from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that encouraged re-investment by builders.

“First-time homebuyers have been disproportionately affected by the housing situation,” says Lyall. “High interest rates and increased material and labour costs, along with exorbitant taxes, fees and levies have pushed up home prices and are preventing them from entering the housing market. Major policy changes are needed in the budget to help first-time buyers.”\\

RESCON is also suggesting that the feds activate surplus crown and crown agency land for residential housing and support the ability of municipalities to build the infrastructure required to encourage more housing construction.

Meanwhile, with many construction workers set to retire, RESCON wants the government to further reform the immigration system and increase targets for workers with the specialized skill sets to build homes and condos.

“According to BuildForce Canada, in the GTA alone, by 2030 42,840 construction workers, or nearly one-quarter of the current labour force is set to retire,” RESCON states in the budget submission.  “While market conditions may vary, there continues to be the need to support immigration initiatives that encourage immigration to Canada of skilled trades workers.

“There is insufficient individuals entering the skilled trades within Canada to adequately meet future demand for these.”

“These are desperate times as sales of new homes have literally ground to a halt, yet our population continues to increase,” adds Lyall. “The practical measures we are suggesting would help boost housing supply and contribute to ensuring affordability issues are addressed.”

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