Mortgage Professionals Canada Visits Victoria to Discuss Housing Affordability with British Columbia MLAs
For many months, especially since October, 2018, Mortgage Professionals Canada has been at the forefront of housing affordability discussions. The Globe and Mail noted that we “lead the charge” regarding discussions surrounding B-20 mortgage stress testing and how it has a dramatic effect on the aspirations of homebuyers and homeowners across Canada.
This week, MPC executives and member volunteers returned to Victoria, B.C., to meet with 20 MLAs. Our prime topic for discussion was housing affordability and how B-20 is affecting British Columbians. We acknowledged that some policy measures were needed in 2016, and that measures such as the ‘Foreign Buyers’ Tax’ were understandable. The government’s desire to help British Columbians first by ensuring a greater housing supply, rental or owned, is understandable; however, we explained how the simultaneous, overly stringent B-20 stress tests, implemented in 2018 and still unchanged, have compounded housing affordability issues, and continue to hurt first-time homebuyers that the government and opposition parties want to help.
We asked elected officials to first and foremost, help British Columbians now by asking the federal government to recalibrate the mortgage stress test to a more reasonable level, and to also have the guideline removed for borrowers who wish to port their mortgage, an anti-consumer and anti-competitive measure which helps only a select few.
We also asked them to support the federal New Democratic Party’s February campaign promise, made by leader Jagmeet Singh in Burnaby, supporting 30 year amortizations for insured mortgages. This is a quick and effective measure designed to help first-time buyers.
We did discuss the new First Time Home Buyer Incentive Plan (FTHBI), announced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in March.The FTHBI is very similar to the B.C. equivalent program cancelled in 2018 after only a few months due to very low participation rates among homebuyers. Given the additional qualifying limitations and income multiple maximums, and relative property values, it was noted the FTHBI will likely not see any more success in most B.C. markets.
We also expressed our support for the creation of the British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), a new provincial regulatory body for British Columbia’s mortgage brokering industry meant to improve upon FICOM. We asked that its creation follow the precedents set by the Government of Ontario to establish the Financial Services Regulatory Agency of Ontario (FSRA). We appreciate that the B.C. government will include our expertise in these early steps, as BCFSA evolves from government bill to reality.
We are very appreciative of the time and insight the listed MLAs and their parties’ staff gave us this week. We also recognize Tracy Redies, Minister Bruce Ralston and Ravi Kahlon, MLAs with substantial experience in financial services, for providing greater insight for us and their colleagues. We look forward to discussing the issues again soon, as the federal election campaign goes into full swing in the coming weeks.