Ottawa Announces Secondary Suite Incentive Program for Homeowners

by EditorK

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Nov. 28, 2022. (Screenshot/ParlVu)

Jennifer Cowan

By Jennifer Cowan

In a bid to “unlock new housing supply,” Ottawa is including a program in Budget 2024 that allows homeowners to access up to $40,000 in low-interest loans to add a secondary suite to their homes.

Dubbed the Canada Secondary Suite Loan Program, the initiative will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the federal government announced April 14.

“Many Canadians, such as retirees who own their homes, or younger families who want their parents to move in to live close by, might want to add a unit to their home,” Finance Minister ​​Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

“Through our Housing Accelerator Fund, we’ve already reformed zoning to make this possible, and today, we’re announcing homeowners will soon be able to access up to $40,000 in low-cost loans to make it easier to add secondary suites.”

Ottawa will also reform mortgage rules preventing homeowners from adding more units, Ms. Freeland said. The move will allow Canada to increase housing “density” in “communities across the country,” she added.

The federal government will consult on any proposed changes to regulations, including for refinancing, maximum loan and home price, a finance department press release said. It will also consult on other mortgage insurance rules governing homeowners adding additional units.

“This is about realizing Canada’s promise of affordable housing for every generation—and making it easier to add additional suites is only one of the ways Budget 2024 will build more homes,” the statement said.

Housing Plan

The government last week unveiled its plan to “solve the housing crisis,” building on recent announcements ahead of the April 16 budget, with new tax incentives, more than a billion dollars for homelessness, and a country-wide effort to build more housing on public lands.

Also included in this week’s budget is a $6 billion investment in housing infrastructure, a new “bill of rights” for renters, and a $600 million fund to build homes and rental units faster.

Its housing initiatives are the minority government’s latest effort to set the agenda on affordability as it loses significant ground to the Pierre Poilievre Conservatives over cost-of-living issues.

It is not yet known if the Liberal housing plan will change the party’s standing with Canadian voters.

The Conservatives have maintained a substantial lead in public opinion polls for months as the party continues its campaign to convince voters the Liberals have created many of the cost of living issues Canadians are currently facing.

The Tories have consistently dismissed the Liberals’ funding announcements saying that pouring more money into “government bureaucracy” won’t solve the housing crisis.

“Justin Trudeau promised a “national housing strategy” in 2015, eight years ago,” Mr. Poilievre said in an April 12 social media post. “Since then: mortgage payments, DOUBLED; rents, DOUBLED; down payments, DOUBLED. This is his record.”

Housing Minister Sean Fraser has said the Conservatives have been successful in capturing Canadians’ attention on housing, but that the party’s solutions are inadequate.

“I think it’s dangerous when politicians seek to prey on the very real anxieties of people without doing anything to help them,” he told The Canadian Press. “It communicates to me that it’s motivated more by their appetite to seize political power than it is to actually help people who are struggling.”

Mr. Poilievre has argued the government should get out of the way and let developers build more homes.

His proposed housing plan centres heavily on requiring cities to increase home building by 15 percent each year to receive their usual infrastructure spending, or see their funding withheld. Those who build more than the target would be eligible for bonuses.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report. 

Jennifer Cowan is a writer and editor with the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times.

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