With MP Rechie Valdez: Breaking down Budget 2022
With MP Rechie Valdez: Breaking down Budget 2022
On affordable housing, helping the marginalized, health workers and students
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter
Canada has the fastest growing population of the G7 countries yet has the lowest housing units per population. According to Ottawa’s February 14, 2022 report on the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan, “Canada aims to welcome 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024.”
With the anticipated influx of new immigrants and refugees on top of rising inflation that has put the dream of home ownership out of reach for most Canadians, how exactly can we hope to meet this basic need to sustain our population growth in the coming years?
On April 20. 2022, MP Rechie Valdez (Mississauga-Streetsville) hosted a press conference to discuss Budget 2022 and was joined by Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, and Toronto Philippine Consul General Orontes V. Castro.
Minister Hussen said that they are investing in increasing housing supply by investing in the Housing Accelerator Fund and through other affordable housing programs. “We believe through this national effort led by the federal government, we can double the number of new homes built in Canada and build 3.2 million homes in the next 10 years that will enable Canadians and newcomers to find the housing that they need and the housing that meets their needs,” he said.
Minister Hussen explained that Budget 2022 has a new Housing Accelerator Fund of $4 billion to support municipalities and regional governments to meet the demand through multi-layered approaches including removing barriers that prevent faster building and increasing the housing supply for middle class Canadians. This aims to enable municipalities to hire more zoning officials, update old computer systems, help them offset the cost of land and other related expenses to building more housing.
Other key highlights of this comprehensive plan include the following:
• First-time homebuyers will be able to set up a tax-free savings account where they can put up to $40,000 to help them purchase their home. Minister Hussen also said that they are doubling the tax credit to $10,000.
• Unfair practices such as blind bidding will be banned.
• Foreign investment in Canadian residential real estate will also be banned for two years.
• The introduction of a tax credit of $7,500 for intergenerational efforts to deal with housing changes for those who are building a secondary suite for a senior, parent or loved one.
• To prevent soaring prices from flipping properties, the government will subject those who sell property they have owned for less than 12 months to full taxation on their profits as business income. This will apply to residential properties sold on or after January 1, 2023. However, exemptions would apply for Canadians who sell their home due to a death, disability, birth of a child, new job or divorce.
Housing construction proposals by nonprofits and universities
When asked if the government will consider housing proposals for nonprofit organizations, Minister Hussen said that if a university or nonprofit has a housing proposal, they must meet certain requirements. “They can use a program like the Rental Construction Financing Initiative to build market rental units, but some of them have to be deeply affordable. As per our regulations, they also have to meet energy efficiency and accessibility requirements. So, there’s flexibility within the national housing strategy for different kinds of partnerships to support different kinds of entities who want to come forward to build housing,” he explained.
Will the most marginalized get support to access affordable housing?
Seeing that finding affordable housing has already been an ongoing challenge for long-time permanent residents and citizens, this seems like an almost impossible dream for migrant workers and caregivers who are still in limbo waiting for their permanent residency status. When asked how the budget can help the most marginalized of the population afford housing, MP Valdez mentioned that they are scaling the rent-to-own program which will allow renters the possibility of eventually owning their homes. “We are investing 100 million to support those non-profits, co-ops, developers, and rent-to-own organizations that help make things more affordable.”
These initiatives are set to prioritize women, marginalized communities, and indigenous communities in particular. She also explained as an example, that for the 6,000 new affordable housing units they are building through the Rapid Housing Initiative, at least 25% of funding will go towards women-focused housing projects to ensure that they are allocating homes for those that most need it.
Many Filipino seniors have also been secretly struggling with finding affordable housing as mentioned by representatives of The Housing Help Centre in Scarborough in an orientation session in 2019. (See story here: https://philippinereporter.com/index.php/2019/02/22/services-and-resources-for-pinoy-canadians/) Back then, the average waiting list was already 10 years.
When asked for detailed information and specific co-ops and rent-to-own projects the public can contact to apply for these programs across Canada, MP Valdez said that her team will share further details soon. (In the meantime, details on other areas of the affordable housing plan are available on the Budget 2023 website: https://budget.gc.ca/2022/report-rapport/chap1-en.html#wb-cont)
How will the budget help Filipino nurses?
Consul General Orontes V. Castro asked how the provisions in the budget can specifically assist Filipino nurses looking to practice their profession in Canada. MP Valdez emphasized they recognize the need for workers and that the Canadian government is going to work with provincial partners on getting foreign credentials recognized for foreign trained professionals starting with nurses, especially those who are already here contributing to Canada and are currently a very high priority to deal with the pandemic.
MP Valdez mentioned that they are trying to forgive student loans to help students transition to full-time careers quicker. The government is waiving interest on Canada Student Loans until March 2023.
(More information here: https://budget.gc.ca/2022/report-rapport/chap4-en.html)
To help the health care system recover from the strain of the pandemic, the government is providing an additional $2 billion of a one-time top off to provinces and territories to help address the pandemic backlogs. Budget 2022 will also help families earning less than $90,000 per year with a dental care plan to cover children under 12, youth under 18, and seniors and persons with disabilities next year with full implementation by 2025.
MP Valdez also mentioned that Budget 2022 also proposes to amend the old age security act, “to clarify the one-time payment made in August 2021 to seniors age 75 and older will be exempted from the income tax from the guaranteed income supplement and allowances and then we’re implementing a 10% increase to the maximum GIS benefit for single seniors, and we’re reversing the original age for eligibility for OAS and GIS back to age 65 from 67 so that we can bring in more seniors to be eligible for those benefits.”
For future updates on the following and more, MP Valdez encourages people to follow her on social media and to contact her office through her website (https://rechievaldez.libparl.ca) to access up to date information on developments and opportunities. They are also building a stakeholder list and welcome community members and leaders to contact the office to help share information and best practices with Filipino-Canadians across Canada.
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