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Morneau defends mortgage rule changes as key to financial stability

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says recent changes to mortgage rules will keep Canada's economy secure and protect Canadians in the long run.

Finance Minister also defends inflation targeting and CPP changes in Toronto speech

Bill Morneau moved recently to tighten the rules concerning insured mortgages. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says recent changes to mortgage rules will keep Canada's economy secure and protect Canadians in the long run.

In a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the finance minister defended the steps the government has taken since his swearing in last November.

"We must remain vigilant to maintain our strong foundation," he said, citing actions such as expanding the role of CPP, renewing the Bank of Canada's inflation target, and the recent tightening of mortgage standards as examples of steps that will help Canadians in the long run.

"People go about their lives knowing that our foundation is solid."

The Liberal government has moved twice in the past year to tighten mortgage rules, aimed at removing some of the speculative activity, and ensure stability over the long term.

On the most recent change — to require borrowers on insured mortgages to undergo a "stress test" of their ability to pay back the loan at higher rates — Morneau said it's too early to gauge the impact on the market, but he is confident that it will be a positive one over the long term.

"Our concern is that the market is stable over the long term," he said. "These are not easy decisions, but I know they are the right thing to do."

While defending the government's actions thus far, he said Ottawa has no further moves planned on the housing front specifically.

Infrastructure plans

He also spoke about the governments plans on the infrastructure front, and specifically the notion of whether or not Ottawa is seeking to partner with the private sector on some projects.

"We can see ways to bring the private sector into our infrastructure goals," Morneau said, without elaborating.

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