Housing punchlines blog

All the parties are talking about housing this election. The fact that many Canadians cannot afford a safe and suitable place to call home has become a central theme in party platforms – generating lots of promised actions and investments.

But how do you know if the actions to which parties are committing will really move us towards the goal of housing affordability for all Canadians?

Gen Squeeze can help!

Our Voter’s Guide makes meaning of party promises by assessing the degree to which each platform advances the evidence-based actions needed to address the housing affordability crisis squeezing younger Canadians. Then we share the results of these analyses with you, in summary scorecards, and in detailed commentary. Gen Squeeze doesn’t tell you who to vote for – but we do want to give you the information you need to vote informed.

Key questions on housing this election

In Election 2021, two key questions keep coming up on the housing policies in party platforms.

  1. Is any party doing enough to end the housing affordability crisis?

  2. Which platform aligns more with the evidence about what is required to restore affordability?

Here are our answers.

No party is proposing to do enough to restore housing affordability for all

Gen Squeeze worked with academic and community experts to produce a comprehensive policy framework to fix the housing system. The framework points to 15 different action items. There is no silver bullet when it comes to housing – we have to do many things to restore affordability.

Not one of the party’s election platforms promises to take action in all 15 areas. Ongoing gaps in the housing policy proposals tabled by the Conservatives, Green, Liberals and NDP raise concerns that the chasm between housing costs and local earnings will persist – even if our next government fully implements every one of the housing promises currently on the table.

All parties agree on the need to take action in some areas – for example, targeting foreign investors, money launderers and other obvious ‘villains’ in our housing system. These actions are welcome, as they will help to ‘dial down’ harmful demand in ways that have contributed to pushing up home prices. All parties also commit to increasing the supply of housing, including social, transitional, co-op and market-based.  We need growth in the supply of all of these parts of the housing system, but so far, none of the parties are proposing increases that will address the total number of Canadian households in core housing need

The parties are more divided on actions needed to repair the cracks in the foundation of our broken housing system. They propose little to address the way in which housing has become an investment vehicle – not just for foreign buyers and large corporations – but also for every day Canadians who see rising housing prices as a way to reap investment returns or save for retirement.

Some platforms align more with the evidence than others

Our housing scorecard shows how far each party platform will move us towards meeting the goal of affordable housing for all.

The Liberals promise to address two-thirds of the 15 action items identified in the Gen Squeeze housing policy framework. The NDP and Greens each promise to address one-third of needed actions. Proposed Conservatives actions will address one-quarter.

Gen Squeeze’s non-partisan, evidence-based analysis concludes that actions proposed in the Liberal platform will move Canada the furthest along the path to restoring housing affordability. This does not mean that we endorse the Liberal party, or that we recommend that you vote for them. What it means is that, among the 4 major parties campaigning for your vote, the Liberal package of proposals aligns most closely with what housing evidence tells us we need to do. Success for Gen Squeeze is that all parties have equally strong platforms on housing affordability.  

The elephant in the room

In the upcoming election, the Conservatives, Greens, Liberals and NDP are silent about the elephant in the room on housing affordability.

The central issue is the trajectory for home prices – and no party is telling us what they plan for home prices going forward.  Unless parties make explicit they aim to reorient all available policies to ensure that home prices stall, we won’t restore affordability for all, because wages won’t have a chance to catch up.

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