British Columbia

Become a PR and rent in meantime: Minister responds to foreign worker concerns

Minister Peter Fassbender responded to criticism from foreign workers living in Metro Vancouver who now have to pay the 15% real estate tax, saying workers could apply for permanent residency status or use other options before purchasing a home.

Permanent residents are exempt from paying the 15% foreign buyer tax on real estate

Minister Peter Fassbender says the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax was thoroughly vetted by the legislative review committee and government lawyers. (CBC)

Minister Peter Fassbender responded to criticism that the 15% foreign buyer tax on real estate in Metro Vancouver unfairly punishes people living and working in Vancouver.

Fassbender, the Minister for Communities and Cultural Development, told the CBC's The Early Edition that foreign nationals working in Metro Vancouver — like many tech workers, university professors and others — should apply for permanent residency status, which would exempt them from the tax.

When asked what those people should do during that potentially lengthy time period, Fassbender said they have many other options, adding the government is working on increasing rental units so that "those people who may be in transition [to permanent residency status] have a place before they end up purchasing."

He added that the government is looking into all the possible implications of the foreign buyer tax.

'Our focus is on B.C. residents first'

Fassbender emphasized the tax is not intended to discourage anyone from coming to British Columbia.

He said that the tax is just one part of the government's housing strategy, and said that they will be focusing on increasing the supply of available housing stock across British Columbia, not just in Vancouver.

"Our focus is on B.C. residents first, and then we will start dealing with some of the other things that we have to do," he said.

With files from The Early Edition.