You are on page 1of 3
OREA Speech Christy Clark Feb. 28th/18 THANK YOU ‘Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. You work in a business that is vitally important to our national economy. You put thousands of people to work. And most ofall, you make thousands of people happy. PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS Affordability used to mean lower taxes, bigger paycheques, more jobs, higher wages, smaller ‘government, a bigger economy and a steady job. Today, that debate about taxes and government spending has taken a back seat to a different set of expectations: how can government make life more affordable. More specifically, how can | afford to buy my own home, how can | trade up from the home I'm in, how can my kids afford to live close to me ‘When the economy is booming and people are feeling more confident about their economic future, we naturally start to think about the other issues that we'd lke to get fixed. The dream of home ownership is central to our idea of what a successful life looks like. But, because of the fast growth in prices in our urban centers, people feel lke its beyond their reach. ‘And politicians pay attention because you don't mess with the Canadian dream There is 1. aoritical shortage of supply, 2. a growing population creating a growing demand, 3. people who have, on average, twice the borrowing power than they did in 2000, 4, and a demographic group called millennials who are greater in number than even the baby boomers - and who are now entering the housing market forthe fist time — and they aren't happy. ‘You can bet that politicians from across the political spectrum are going to want to speak to that ‘group of voters. And you can bet that they will be offering solutions as part ofthis coming ‘campaign. So how do you, as a group, ensure those policy ideas are the right ones? TWO ONTARIOS First, policy makers need to understand that this is not exactly the same problem in every ‘community in Ontario. What happens in Toronto isn’t happening in Timmins. Just like what's happening in Vancouver, isn’t happening in Vanderhoof. There are two economies in Ontario and policy solutions need to be considered separately. Here are two good examples of that. The first is a foreign buyers tax. You can argue whether its effective anywhere — any many certainly have argued that i's not ~ but there is no argument that in some regions i's a terrible idea. What if there was a tax on foreign buyers in Whistler \where its exclusively a tourist economy? Or in a small town where they are anxious for new investment and they're not that concemed about where it comes from? ‘The second example is double-ending. The independent panel on real estate practices in BC recommended that we end it altogether. They argued that the potential for conflict of interest ‘was just too great. Well, what they didn't appreciate is that in some small communities, there is cnly one realtor. And that in markets where price growth is the opposite of frothy, the potential for a problem is very low. Decision makers and politicians need to be reminded that there are TWO different economies in ‘Ontario and you cannot enact housing policies that are built for Toronto and think they/ll work in Sault St Marie. They won't. So you need to work to make sure your voices are heard. GOVERNMENT TAXES AND FEES ‘Second, policy makers need to understand that the huge array of taxes, and the growing costs and long delays in permitting new housing are a major contributor to making housing unaffordable. Property transfer taxes, the HST, development cost charges, fees, the carrying cost of waiting for something to get built, the list goes on. And every penny of that gets dumped on the buyer. Just the approval and regulatory costs — and by this | mean everything from permitting fees to the costs of removing a tree add, on average, about $50,000 to the cost of a mortgage in Greater Vancouver. It's not that different here. ‘The public pressure that OREA exerted to ensure the province backed away from the municipal transfer tax is the best example of this. Most home buyers have no idea how much governments drive up home prices. You made sure they got wise to it. | hope you don't take your foot off the gas on this issue. ‘SUPPLY Third, that slowing the growth in home prices cannot be fixed by demand side solutions. A foreign tax, speculation tax, vacancy tax — each one can have some impact, but taxes will never fix the problem on their own. The only way to affect the imbalance between supply and demand that drives up prices is to build more supply. 1. Municipal governments must be incented to deliver more housing. 2. Provincial and federal governments must use their financial might to reward jurisdictions that clear out their permitting backlog. 3. Provinces should make agreements for new transit investment contingent on councils, ‘approving increased density around transit hubs. 4, And provinces should be using their preferential borrowing rates to co-invest with middle income eamers on the purchase of their frst home — whether that's in Toronto or Timmins. ‘That last one is important, because governments across the country are talking about new investments in housing — including the federal government yesterday. But that money is mostly devoted to creating more rental housing - much of it to be owned by government supported agencies. ''m in favour of that. We need more rental housing. But I don’t know about you, my dream of home ownership was never about living in a ‘government owned apartment for the rest of my life. My dream ~ and the dream of the vast majority of Canadians - is to have a roof over our heads that belongs to us. One that we can invest in and improve. One that we can use to take the next step up the housing ladder i that's ‘what we choose, One that our kids can perhaps inherit one day. ‘The middle class has been lost in this debate and governments need you to help them find the. creative solutions that will support middle income eamers in buying a home. REGULATION Fourth and last of all, i's important that as realtors, you continue to be seen as the good guys in the midst of this emotionally charged debate. ‘Your work in persuading the government to tighten up regulations on realtor conduct shows tremendous foresight. I's unwise to think that if you simply ignore a potential problem, youll never have to deal with it I's way better to decide that you want to be a partner with ‘government and offer them ideas for addressing concems about our housing market. This is ‘your profession, you want to be proud of it and you're prepared to do what it takes to ensure that everyone in it maintains the highest professional standards. CHANGE THE FUTURE This is going to be a hard fought election. | believe that housing policy is going to play a central role in the outcome. The party that speaks to the dreams of Ontarians to ov their own homes. ‘The one that speaks to middle class voters about helping them find their footing in this housing market is going to have the edge. ‘That means you have a chance — an unprecedented chance to play an outsized role in what. housing policy will look like and who will be in charge of implementing it after this election. You're the people who enable most of us to achieve the Canadian dream of owning our own. homes. | can't think of a better group to help shape the future of this great province. END