Wednesday August 18, 2021 | NATIONAL
Insights by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Housing is one of the top issues for all Canadians. Fundamentally, how do people afford to put a roof over their heads.
For many Canadians, they don’t even worry about that. For other numerous Canadians, the cost of housing puts a roadblock square in the middle of the path to the rest of their lives.
Due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian society, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh sees a ‘K-shaped’ economic recovery ahead. In other words, people who already have resources will surge ahead because they can take advantage of economic disarray, while anyone outside of that opportunity for ready-resource will essentially find themselves on a downhill slide financially (which translates into social and lifestyle challenges, including health impacts).
In addition to discouraging foreign investment in Canadian real estate (with a proposed 20% foreign buyer’s tax) and targeting money laundering and organized crime within the housing sector (by making it harder to hide behind nameless companies), the NDP leader says that more Canadian government resources need to be invested through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) toward building more types of affordable housing, such as cooperatives.
“There needs to be a massive mobilization of capital” toward housing development in Canada, is what Jagmeet Singh said today during his press conference in Burnaby. In addition to the CMHC investment it means investing in the workforce to be able to construct those homes both for training and hiring.
The CMHC does at this time offer access to home-building professionals to some CMHC funding, research, knowledge and expertise to help “solve housing affordability together”.
Building 500,000 affordable homes:
The NDP plan, as an NDP government, to build 500,000 affordable homes in 10 years. Getting from 24 seats at dissolution to the 170 to form a majority is a large leap. Even without a majority after the September 20 election, a strong contingent of NDP MP’s in the House of Commons could push for improvements to the housing crisis in Canada.
CMHC is the mechanism. The NDP’s role would be to pressure the government of the day to mobilize the mechanism in ways and directions to help Canadians across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Singh’s theme this morning on the campaign trail was about housing, with the core message being that “big money investors” are the force that regular Canadians families are having to work against. Many people “can barely afford to pay rent, let alone compete against big money investors in the housing market”, he told media today on the ground and over Zoom.
The event today began with listening to one young-adult couple explain how they can’t even begin to imagine owning a home or starting a family, given the career choices they would have to make or even relocating beyond family and friends just to afford a home.
Political will as the key ingredient:
When challenged as to why the housing crisis is ‘all Trudeau’s fault’, Singh took it wide. It’s about political will, he explained, saying that when Trudeau and the Liberals want to get things done, they get done. Big-spending on supports for people in the early days of the pandemic was one example that he gave. Another example was how readily the federal government issued multi-billions of dollars to banks as the pandemic bore down on the economy.
Having will is one thing, what are the practicalities, asked one journalist on site there today.
To that, Jagmeet answered not only that question but how and why his leadership style has caught on with the broader public: “When something’s a priority, governments get it done,” said Jagmeet, adding that “all our will” has to be put toward people finding a home.
Singh is showing in this short 5-week election campaign that he has a broader view and also the ability to connect the dots between what is possible and what will be made possible.
Strong willpower can assert decisions even in the face of strong opposition, but this is something a down-trodden working population and the mainstream flank of society has not been able to believe for a long time now in Canada.
===== Island Social Trends on the CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
- Shouting loud in two directions: Jagmeet Singh suffers a heckler in Toronto on Day 2 of the campaign (August 16, 2021)
- Alistair MacGregor launches campaign for 3rd term in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford (August 15, 2021)
- Canada’s election is on for September 20 (August 15, 2021)
- Campaign launch by Trudeau, O’Toole & Singh (August 15, 2021)
- NDP releases vision document as election call looms (August 12, 2021)