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Teresa Burgess-Ogilvie

My name is Teresa Burgess-Ogilvie, Green Party Candidate for Brampton East.  I was the Executive Director for Safe City Mississauga (crime prevention) and most recently, the Manager of the Office of Emergency Management for the City of Mississauga.  I put my name forward in Brampton East because of a duty to serve.  I have served the public all of my life in the military, nonprofit leadership and municipal government.  I hope that the residents of Brampton East eventually feel as fortunate to have me as I feel to have the opportunity to work for them.  

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.  

The Ontario Professional Planners Institute provides interesting context that I think is important as it provides some clarity.  

“In Canada, housing is considered “affordable” if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. Many people think the term “affordable housing” refers only to rental housing that is subsidized by the government. In reality, it’s a very broad term that can include housing provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors. It also includes all forms of housing tenure: rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing.”  OntarioPlanners.ca

A recent CMHC report showed there are 1.7 million Canadian households in housing need, living in homes that are inadequate or unaffordable. Of that 1.7 million households, almost half (44%) live in Ontario.

The Green Party platform states, “The Green Party will enhance the federal government’s contribution to meeting the housing needs of Canadians through direct investments, changes to tax policies, and lending and granting programs, putting the government’s focus where it is urgently needed.  Federal incentives for purpose-built rental housing were eliminated in the 1970s. During decades of encouraging home ownership, federal support for co-ops, rental housing, social housing and supportive housing has languished. We now face a national shortage of affordable housing and as a result, a growing problem of homelessness and housing insecurity.  The Liberal government’s National Housing Strategy does not address immediate core housing needs across Canada. Funding for affordable housing will roll out over 15 years but it is needed now. The first-time home buyer grant has been criticized for exacerbating housing speculation and commodification.

It is past time that the government of Canada moves to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.”

DIRECT INVESTMENTS BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
• Legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and permanent residents.
• Appoint a Minister of Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy so that it meets the needs for affordable housing that are unique to each province, and oversee its implementation in collaboration with provincial ministers. This recognizes that housing is provincial jurisdiction. The target would be 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years.
• Increase the National Housing Co-investment Fund by $750 million for new builds, and the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance for 125,000 households.
• Create a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy that would update the mechanisms for financing co-op housing, in partnership with CMHC, co-op societies, credit unions and other lenders.
• Eliminate the first-time home buyer grant.

FINANCING
• Include new and existing housing as eligible infrastructure for funding purposes, allowing the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support provincial and municipal housing projects.
• Provide financing to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives to build and restore quality, energy efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs and low-income families.
 • Restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing and provide tax credits for gifts of lands, or of land and buildings, to community land trusts to provide affordable housing.
• Remove the “deemed” GST whenever a developer with empty condo units places them on the market as rentals.
• Re-focus the core mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporate (CMHC) on supporting the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing, as opposed to its current priority of supporting Canadian lenders to de-risk investment in housing ownership. With many housing markets demonstrably overvalued, and home ownership rates among the highest in the world, individual home ownership should not be the preoccupation of a public service housing agency and a national housing strategy.
• Change the legislation that prevents Indigenous organizations from accessing financing through CMHC to invest in self-determined housing needs.

I recently read that Habitat for Humanity plans to develop 12 new affordable housing units in Brampton.  We have an individual and collective responsibility to help others.  Those, like Habitat for Humanity, serve others in this way and should expect the support of all three levels of government to dissolve community and national issues.  It’s quite simple.  We are in this together and should come to the table with an open mind and explore and innovate the housing crisis on a placed-based approach.  

Not every City has the same root causes creating the lack of affordable housing. I would explore this with the Mayor and Council, Province and most importantly, interested people and partners in Brampton East.  

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? 

As of 2018, home buyers with a down payment of 20% or more (uninsured loan with a lower interest rate) are now subject to stricter qualifying criteria (also known as a "stress test") that would determine whether a home-buyer would be able to afford their principal and interest payments should interest rates increase.  This stress test would use either the 5-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the customer's mortgage interest rate plus 2% - whichever is the higher. 


Michelle McNally reported for Livabl, “In January 2018, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, a federal watchdog and the sole regulator of Canadian banks, implemented the Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures guideline — otherwise known as B-20. Under B-20, all new and renewing home-buyers who opt for a regulated mortgage lender are subject to a mortgage stress test, which evaluates the borrower’s ability to afford residential mortgage payments against higher interest rates. OSFI says that this policy protects Canadian homeowners from excessive debt and unaffordable mortgage payments.”
Rajpreet Sahota reported for InBrampton.com, “In June, Brampton placed 10th on the list of 33 cities for average monthly rent for a one-bedroom home at $1,643 but finished 16th for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $1,773. A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives indicated that minimum wage earners (such as Ontario residents who earn $14 an hour) absolutely cannot afford apartments in Canada's major cities—Brampton included. The study stated that the Brampton East rental wage is $29.97 an hour, which means a full-time minimum-wage worker would need to clock around 86 hours a week to afford their rent. Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) also reported that the market is scorching in Brampton with a total of 932 homes sold, a 20.8 per cent year-over-year improvement. A flat influx of new supply - new listings fell 0.8 per cent to a total of 1,491 - has led to a price surge of 6.9 per cent to an average of $744,590.”

Every individual has the responsibility to evaluate whether they are able to afford their principal and interest payments should interest rates increase.  I want to understand this issue from those being impacted by it and then develop placed based adjustments that may be replicated in other parts of Canada.  This is how I deliver.  One size doesn't fit all.  Let's work together to put forward adjustments that will have the greatest value to those effected.  And lets make sure to carve out an adjustment for those who experience a life altering situation within 6 months to 1 year of a mortgage renewal.  A little grace goes a long way.  

I am supportive of providing more flexibility around the OSFI two percentage point mortgage stress test as suggested by President Michael Collins of TREB.  Some believe that a version of the stress test cannot be developed – but as you now know, I disagree.  We carve out policies based on population, etc., for other policies and can do the same for real estate markets.  If we don’t, at least in Brampton East, there could be a creation of a new group of marginalized individuals that are forced out of the regular housing market into the affordable housing market, which is already stressed.  We are supposed to lift people up - not let them down by increasing impacts that further marginalize.  

Younger people now expect to either rent forever or to borrow from the Bank of Dad and Mom.  What does that do to a whole generation?  I know many young people that have no interest in buying a home.  It used to be a dream and now its not.   We need to ensure that housing is a right.  And we haven't even talked about Home Insurance!  At a conference this week, it was noted that the cost of home insurance will be increasing in response to the costs of recovering from disasters. 

BTW, I really don't like closed mortgages because if you want to sale your home or business, you still have to pay ALL THE INTEREST to the end of the loan term.  

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 issue?  

I don't want to miss an opportunity to show you the Green Party platform again which states, “The Green Party will enhance the federal government’s contribution to meeting the housing needs of Canadians through direct investments, changes to tax policies, and lending and granting programs, putting the government’s focus where it is urgently needed.  Federal incentives for purpose-built rental housing were eliminated in the 1970s. During decades of encouraging home ownership, federal support for co-ops, rental housing, social housing and supportive housing has languished. We now face a national shortage of affordable housing and as a result, a growing problem of homelessness and housing insecurity.  The Liberal government’s National Housing Strategy does not address immediate core housing needs across Canada. Funding for affordable housing will roll out over 15 years but it is needed now. The first-time home buyer grant has been criticized for exacerbating housing speculation and commodification.

It is past time that the government of Canada moves to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.”

DIRECT INVESTMENTS BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
• Legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians and permanent residents.
• Appoint a Minister of Housing to strengthen the National Housing Strategy so that it meets the needs for affordable housing that are unique to each province, and oversee its implementation in collaboration with provincial ministers. This recognizes that housing is provincial jurisdiction. The target would be 25,000 new and 15,000 rehabilitated units annually for the next 10 years.

• Increase the National Housing Co-investment Fund by $750 million for new builds, and the Canada Housing Benefit by $750 million for rent assistance for 125,000 households.
• Create a Canada Co-op Housing Strategy that would update the mechanisms for financing co-op housing, in partnership with CMHC, co-op societies, credit unions and other lenders.
• Eliminate the first-time home buyer grant.

FINANCING
• Include new and existing housing as eligible infrastructure for funding purposes, allowing the Canada Infrastructure Bank to support provincial and municipal housing projects.
• Provide financing to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives to build and restore quality, energy efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs and low-income families.
• Restore tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing and provide tax credits for gifts of lands, or of land and buildings, to community land trusts to provide affordable housing.
• Remove the “deemed” GST whenever a developer with empty condo units places them on the market as rentals.
• Re-focus the core mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporate (CMHC) on supporting the development of affordable, non-market and cooperative housing, as opposed to its current priority of supporting Canadian lenders to de-risk investment in housing ownership. With many housing markets demonstrably overvalued, and home ownership rates among the highest in the world, individual home ownership should not be the preoccupation of a public service housing agency and a national housing strategy.
• Change the legislation that prevents Indigenous organizations from accessing financing through CMHC
to invest in self-determined housing needs.

One last thought...It doesn’t end with affordable housing or housing supply, we need to also address homeless shelters.  These shelters are in most larger City neighbourhoods but we often don’t even know it.  Nor do people know that these homeless shelters may be used to house disaster victims that suddenly find themselves homeless.  The role of real estate agencies in a disaster needs to be explored.  Often, Realtors have a list of rental properties and if there was a conversation and agreements in place before a disaster that allowed real estate agents to work directly with disaster victims to offer housing opportunities, this would greatly decrease the impact on the victims and on the people responsible for victim assistance in housing, which allows them to work on other issues.  Owners of units that are able, get the opportunity to serve others in their time of need.  This creates a win-win-win.  There is so much more we can do with a shift in the vision.  I hope you vote for me so that we can have these conversations and make a difference.  


Click HERE to visit Teresa Burgess-Ogilvie's website