Most Canadians know that stalling home prices is the path back to affordability

Wouldn't it be nice if the solution to Canada’s housing crisis were as straightforward as ramping up supply? But it’s not that simple. Polling shows that most Canadians agree housing prices need to stall.

Housing unaffordability has once again taken centre stage in Canadian politics, with all political parties and levels of government talking about ways to fix the problem. Most discussion focuses on one thing: building more homes. Proposals abound. Carrots like tax breaks on rental housing, or tying government funding to additional units and density. Sticks like cracking down on NIMBYs, burdensome regulation, or so called ‘gate keepers.’

More of the right kinds of supply are certainly needed, but so are a range of other things — notably disrupting our addiction to high and rising home prices as a strategy to generate wealth and drive economic growth. Gen Squeeze’s comprehensive housing solutions frameworks offers a wide-angle lens on all of the levers we need to get ourselves out of the mess we’ve created.

Happily, most Canadians seem to have a good grasp of what’s needed to solve housing unaffordability.

Recent polling found that 69% of Canadians agree that, in order to restore housing affordability for all, we need home prices to stall, so earnings can catch up. Only 16% disagreed with this statement, with 16% unsure.

That’s strong support for what is often dismissed as too contentious a policy prescription. Perhaps Canadians have a keener sense of what’s needed to restore affordability than they get credit for.

The savvy majority who support stalling home prices may finally have a political ally. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stated: “house pricing cannot continue to go up”. Of course, we need this comment to be backed up by real action to get control of home prices, and reconnect them with what Canadians earn from their hard work. And we need other parties to get on board with what most Canadians think is the right trajectory for home prices. But the PM’s statement is a game changer in that it signals a clarity of purpose about the goal for our housing system: housing should be for homes first, and investments second. 

Poll data shows that support for stalling housing prices is fairly consistently across all age groups and all regions of the country.  Support is slightly higher among federal Liberal (76%) and NDP (75%) voters, but is also strong (66%) among Conversatives. Perhaps Canadians would reward parties working together to advance housing common ground, rather than thrashing their opponents over areas in which they differ?

Those with homes valued at over $1 million are least likely to support stalling home prices (57%), but the fact that this group remains solidly in majority territory is important. It shows that many who’ve benefitted the most from rising prices might be ready to slow down the gravy train that has seen Canadian home owners gain $3.2 trillion in additional housing wealth since the 1970s. Home owners like me have won enough in the lottery of good timing — it’s time turn attention to our children and grandkids, who will continue to lose out so long as home prices increase. 

Let’s make sure we remind our political leaders of what the majority of Canadians want: to restore affordability for all, forever, by committing to having home prices stall.

Andrea LongAndrea Long is Senior Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization for Gen Squeeze. She has more than 20 years of experience in policy analysis, research and knowledge mobilization on health and social issues, including housing and homelessness, poverty, social determinants of health, and health in all policies.


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