Paulin Thornham

How does your party intend to support first-time home buyers and new Canadians who are struggling to find affordable housing that meets their needs? 

Housing is under provincial jurisdiction. In the 2018 provincial election, the Green Party of Ontario had a plan to require all new developments in Ontario (from condos to single-family subdivisions) to have a minimum of 20% affordable housing, set below market pricing, as a first step. We need to demand more from developers, focus on density over sprawl, and be more innovative in using existing buildings and development lands.

The Green Party of Canada, if elected, will begin by creating a Council of Canadian Governments (CCG), made up of members of all levels of government: federal, provincial, municipal and indigenous. The Council’s mandate will be to bring about collaboration and consensus among the various stakeholders.

The Green Party government, through the CCG will expand the National Housing Strategy, so that it meets the needs for affordable housing, unique to each province. It will appoint a federal Minister of Housing, and collaborate with provincial housing ministers to oversee its implementation. Working with the provinces, the Green Party government will legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and Permanent Residents.

The CCG will also work with municipalities, to reform planning rules, supporting innovative solutions, such as “tiny homes”, laneway housing, co-housing and secondary suites. We will create a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy to update finance mechanisms for co-op housing, in partnership with CMHC, co-op societies, credit unions and other lenders.

The mortgage stress test is impacting individuals and families in your riding. What adjustment do you feel should be implemented to address the negative consequences? 

The mortgage stress test is a financial version of a stress test performed by cardiologists, to discover heart issues in their patients, in advance of a cardiopulmonary event. It is meant to prevent disaster.

During my very brief career as a real estate agent in 1978-79, I interviewed clients to see how much equity they had gathered in five years of home ownership. Not much, it turned out - almost nothing. The interest rate was about 13% at the time, and their early mortgage payments were almost all for interest only. 

The situation is not as dire now, with regard to interest rates, but the risk is just as great, because the house prices are about ten times those in 1978. A small rise in interest on a large mortgage results in a large increase in monthly payments.

With all of this in mind, the Green Party is not in favour of relaxing the stress test, as are the Liberal and Conservative parties. The Green Party does not choose to encourage home buyers to increase their already high debt load, or lengthen their mortgage life. We choose, instead, to eliminate the first time buyers grant, and to look at other methods. These methods include working with the provinces to increase the availability of affordable housing, make zoning changes and change rules on short-term rentals. 

The GPC will reintroduce and expand home renovation tax credit programs, in order to retrofit existing houses, making them more energy efficient. This will also put money into home-owners’ pockets. Related plans such as expanded, efficient public transit will also give home-owners cheaper ways to commute, leaving more money for housing.

The GPC will establish a national minimum wage of $15 per hour, and universal child care, following the example of Quebec and other countries. We will establish a Guaranteed Livable Income, to raise people out of poverty. 

Housing supply continues to be a significant issue in many markets across the country. What should the federal government do to help with housing supply issues?

The Green Party of Canada, if elected, will create a National Sustainable Jobs Plan. This is a plan, to be funded by the Sustainable Generations Fund, to put Canadians to work, after training or higher education, in well-paid, sustainable jobs in infrastructure, renewable energy production and home renovation incentives. The source of the funds held in the Sustainable Generations Fund will be tax reforms, for example, raising corporate taxes to 19%, and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.

The supply of affordable housing will be increased by various methods, such as targeting the building of 25,000 new houses/units per year for ten years, and rehabilitating or retrofitting 15,000 existing houses/units per year with green, efficient features, to decrease their carbon footprint and operating costs.

In short, the Green Party will help to increase the affordable housing available to Canadians through direct investments, changes to tax policies, and lending and granting programs.

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