Burnaby MP Kennedy Stewart is calling for Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to dig into the numbers on foreign ownership.
Stewart, the New Democrat representative for Burnaby-Douglas, tabled a motion in the House of Commons last November, proposing the federal government come up with an affordable housing strategy that includes examining the impact of investor speculation and housing vacancies on the high price of real estate in Metro Vancouver.
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"It's simply that the federal government really withdrew from the housing market in the 1990s and have really left it to municipalities and provinces to sort it on their own, but of course no one's in a better position to get us an accurate look at housing speculation — whether it's domestic or foreign — than [the CMHC] and Statistics Canada," Stewart told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff on Tuesday.
"We have over 4,000 local governments in Canada and to leave it just to, say, small municipalities to figure this out on their own is a big problem, and the federal government is there to do things, and I think at the very least, it should be providing information to municipalities and provinces on this issue."
Frustration from those being priced out of British Columbia's housing market recently came to the forefront, with a Vancouver woman venting her angst on Twitter with the hashtag #donthave1million, and an online petition calling on Premier Christy Clark to tax foreigners who purchased B.C. homes.
If high levels of foreign ownership are indeed driving up real estate prices, Stewart says there are a variety of tools that can be used to regulate international speculators. However, data on whether it is actually happening must first be collected before the government can take action.
"This is something the federal government can do, is to change how either home purchases are recorded, right up to charging more tax if you own more than one property. But the key is to make sure you have the right information to what's happening within each municipality," Stewart said.
To hear the full interview with Kennedy Stewart, listen to the audio labelled: B.C. MP calls for study on foreign ownership