Code Red: Rethinking Canadian Housing Policy

Why we wrote this report

Housing costs in Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria and the GTA have been growing out of reach and out of control. The situation has reached crisis proportions. People of all ages are affected, but younger residents are being hit particularly hard. 

With the release of this report, Gen Squeeze launched its CODE RED Campaign, which seeks to rein in housing costs for both renters and prospective owners. The report is a wake-up call, shining a spotlight on the epic struggle facing many younger residents in Metro Vancouver. We hope other jurisdictions can learn from, and avoid the crisis affecting this part of the country.

What should we do to tackle the crisis? This report starts at square one by proposing 10 broad principles for rethinking Canadian housing policy, from which specific actions can more effectively flow.

Download the full report

Key takeaways



Ten propositions for rethinking Canadian housing policy: 

  1. Homes first. Investments second.
  2. Tax housing wealth to slow down housing price increases
  3. Don’t just focus on taxing the housing wealth of foreign investors/speculators
  4. Try to tax net housing wealth, not just gross wealth
  5. Recognize low interest rates cut both ways for younger generations
  6. Age matters. But the current treatment of age in housing policy is outdated
  7. Revisit zoning for single detached homes in housing hot spots like Vancouver and Toronto
  8. More rental accommodation
  9. More below-market housing, but
  10. Don’t let child care, parental leave, transit, etc. add second, third & fourth mortgage payments

How you can use this report:

Rapidly changing housing markets mean that some of the statistics in this report may quickly become out of date. However, the report pays a lot of attention to how we can better describe the crisis.

  • If in your job or day-to-day conversations you frequently refer to housing market statistics, consider incorporating "time to save a downpayment," "what $500K will buy you," and "months of extra work to pay for a mortgage."

    These measures are an improvement on traditional indicators like "average costs" because they account for local incomes and the type of housing those incomes are actually able to purchase. 

  • You can spark some big-picture thinking by sending this report to your local, provincial and federal elected representatives and/or people involved in housing policy (planners, analysts, etc.)

Note: The statistics in this report pay particular attention to purchasing costs, but Gen Squeeze is equally committed to improving the rental market. 


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