Posted on March 15, 2016
We welcome newcomers, they buy houses, they seem to live in them. What’s the problem?
The new federal budget is expected to confirm a goal for a record number of new arrivals in Canada, with immigration likely to exceed 300,000 people in all categories. All of them will need someplace to live.
As UBC professor Dan Hiebert notes in Monday’s Sun, these newcomers are undoubtedly having an impact on the housing market, particularly at the high end.The move to home ownership is highest among Chinese immigrants, but notable also among South Asians, Koreans and Filipinos. (Hiebert’s comments are based on a larger study he has not yet released.)
Would the cost of housing come down if we ended immigration — which I do not expect or support? Somehow, I doubt it.
The crisis of housing affordability — the high cost of housing — is clear to anyone who pays attention. In my mind, the link to immigration is not. Most Canadians welcome new Canadians and agree that they make a net positive contribution to our country.
Foreign ownership of land and housing stock, particularly speculative, offshore investment by people who have no intention of living here, may be a concern.
But the bigger issue is the complete absence of provincial or federal policies to increase the supply of lower cost housing, especially co-ops and non-profit rental. Let’s hope the federal budget is as aggressive on that front as it is on immigration goals.