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VIEW FROM THE HILL: Foreign homebuyers ban sends a message

In our monthly video series, Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen says housing should not be commodified 'simply as an investment'

View from the Hill is a monthly series in which Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen answers questions about the major federal issues of the day in a video format.

Canadian homebuyers should be Canadians first, and houses should be more than just an investment, according to Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen.

The local politician defended the federal government’s motion for a two-year ban on foreign nationals purchasing Canadian homes, which went into effect Jan. 1. The ban will prevent non-citizens from buying Canadian homes over that period with some exceptions.

In this month’s View From the Hill, NewmarketToday sought Van Bynen’s thoughts on the ban, plus the federal government’s 2023 budget. The regular video series offers updates from Ottawa. NewmarketToday provides topics of discussion before the interview but not specific questions.

A summary of the interview is below:

Q: A new two-year ban on foreign homebuyers came into effect this month. But since it came into effect, some real estate experts have come out expressing skepticism due to foreign homebuyers not making up a large amount of the market. What is your outlook on this change, and what impact it could have?

Van Bynen said he respects the views of local realtors, and given that the ban only just came into effect, he is not in a position to challenge their perspectives.

But he said what is important is sending a message. 

“We are sending a signal out that we would like the Canadian homebuyers market, or the Canadian homebuyers, to be Canadian citizens first,” he said. “And that houses don’t become commoditized simply as an investment.” 

Q: The Canadian government is working on creating more housing. Is the government considering any other measures like this one, putting restrictions on buyers or other restrictions on the marketplace to rein it in?

Van Bynen said unit availability impacts the housing market, and the government has a rapid housing initiative underway to improve supply.

He said there is also a tax-free savings account for new homebuyers to make that a little easier.

“It is going to take a long time to turn this,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track with our national housing strategy. A lot of really aggressive targets, and we need to make sure the industry is in a position to respond." 

Q: The federal government is working on its 2023 budget and is seeking public input. One issue on top of mind for many is the impact of inflation and affordability, with many experiencing financial struggles. What do you think this budget should do to help people experiencing financial hardship?

Van Bynen said the government already has measures in place, such as doubling the GST tax credit.

Grappling with inflation is a global issue, he added. The government is trying to help through job creation.

“So that people are in a position to generate the incomes to help their households,” he said, adding that there are relief programs like the child care benefit. “In addition to the inflation is also the fact we’re really struggling to make sure that we have enough people for the jobs in the supply chain.

“It’s going to take us a while to turn this around,” he added. “I’m optimistic that the programs that are being introduced will have the effects that are intended.”

Q: Are there any specific things you want to see in this budget or that you are pushing for?

Consultations are underway with local leaders, Van Bynen said. He added that he is speaking with various community groups and sending a letter to the finance minister about local priorities based on the input.

“What I think isn’t nearly as important as what our community thinks, and that we’re able to respond to those priorities.”