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Bank of Canada governor 'happy' to see plan for GTA housing market

Measures to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have received a warm response from Canada's central banker, who said Saturday it should have some effect on runaway housing prices.

Stephen Poloz says the new measures should help slow housing prices

Stephen Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada, told reporters in Washington that he's glad measures are being put in place to try and cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Measures to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have received a warm response from Canada's central banker, who said Saturday it should have some effect on runaway housing prices.

"I'm happy there are measures," Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, told reporters during financial meetings in Washington. "It's a risk we've been highlighting," he said of skyrocketing housing prices in Toronto.

The Ontario government announced a series of measures after home prices surged one-third in a year to an average value above $1 million. The moves included a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers, similar to a tax in Vancouver, in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe — an area stretching from the Niagara Region to Peterborough.

Poloz said the Vancouver move appears to have had some impact on galloping prices there, though the effect is still being assessed. He said he has every reason to believe Ontario's policies will affect prices there too.

He said he believed the issue of controlling runaway prices was a matter of psychology, more than market fundamentals. He said the right way to deal with that was policy tools — not increasing interest rates.

The federal government has applauded Ontario's move — but has said there's no reason to introduce a similar tax coast-to-coast.

Poloz noted that the moves in B.C. and Ontario had made international news. He said peers at last year's annual meeting asked him about the Vancouver policy, but that the Toronto announcement did not come up in chats this week.

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