We last heard election promises from our federal candidates in October of 2019. COVID-19 would soon dominate the agenda in the House of Commons, however. As a result, those promises would be thrown out the window.
The federal basic personal amount (the amount of income you can earn without paying any tax) was not raised to $15,000 as promised. The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) was used to inject cash into the economy during the pandemic but not permanently increased as was supposed to have happened.
A few promises have been made good on, however. The first-time homebuyer incentive was increased, however, for buyers in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. And the proposed Federal tax on vacant homes will come into force in January 2022.
As we head to the polls once again in 2021, new promises are on the table. Here's a roundup of how each of the major parties proposes improving your personal finances (in an order determined by a random draw).
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NDP’s platform on personal finance
Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party (NDP) are making affordable housing the first item on their official platform. NDP money promises include:
Address Canada’s housing shortage
The NDP promises to create 500,000 affordable housing units over 10 years and spur construction by waiving the federal portion of the GST/HST on new rental units. The NDP platform also includes instituting a 20% tax on foreign homebuyers.
Make it easier for first-time homebuyers to afford a home
Promises include re-introducing 30-year terms on CMHC-insured mortgages, which will allow homebuyers with as little as 5% down to spread their mortgage payments over 30 years. The NDP also promises to double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit, a one-time tax rebate for first-time homebuyers, from $750 to $1,500.
Raise your income
Many of the NDP's talking points are geared directly toward helping Canadians make more money. The plan includes a federal minimum wage of $15 (no such minimum currently exists). They also plan to expand EI to cover more reasons for leaving work. NDP wants to introduce a universal basic income for seniors and people with disabilities and forgiving up to $20,000 in student loan debt.
Tax the rich
The NDP platform calls for an increase to corporate taxes, a 2-point increase to the top marginal tax rate, and a 1% wealth tax on people with over $10-million in assets.
Conservative platform and your money
Erin "Plan" O'Toole, the "plan man" with the plan, has a plan that plan plan plan. The word "plan" appears in their official platform 178 times, but what does the Conservative Party of Canada plan to do with your personal finances? Some of the other words in this 83-page document promise to:
Make your job more worthwhile
The Conservative platform promises to end discrimination against people who are self-employed and work in the gig economy. That includes doubling the Canada Workers Benefit (which reduces tax on low-income Canadians) and expanding EI benefits to working Canadians who wouldn't currently qualify. The Conservatives also plan to spur job creation by paying half of the salary for new hires for six months once the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ends.
Make banking products more affordable through competition
The Conservative Party promises to give you more choices and better prices for your personal finances. Their platform includes the introduction of open banking, which will make it easier for you to securely share your banking information and shop around for financial products. The Conservatives also want an investigation on bank fees by the Competition Bureau.
Make it easier to get a mortgage.
The Conservative platform promises three significant changes that will make it easier for Canadians to get a mortgage and buy a home.
- Increase mortgage terms to 10 years. Currently, Canadians have to renew their mortgage every five years or less. Under the conservative plan, you’ll be able to lock in a mortgage for up to 10 years.
- Eliminating the mortgage stress test for renewals. The Conservatives have promised to make it easier for you to shop around for a mortgage on renewal by removing the need for a stress test when moving to a new lender.
- Increasing eligibility for mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance, which is required when buying a home with less than 20% down, is currently limited to homes under $1-million. The Conservatives are promising to increase that limit and index it to home price inflation.
- Make it easier to find a home. The Conservative Party is also promising to tackle the housing shortage by building 1-million homes within three years. They have also promised a 2-year ban on foreign investors buying single-family homes in Canada and new incentives for foreign investment in purpose-built rental housing.
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Liberal plan for your hard-earned cash
The incumbent Liberal Party also addresses the housing crisis in its official platform, promising radical new programs to make buying a home easier and fairer. The Liberal Party plans include:
Expanding programs for first-time homebuyers
The Liberal Party promises to make the First-Time Home Buyers’ Incentive more flexible by adding the option to convert it to a loan rather than shared equity. They also want to create a “First Home Savings Account” to allow homebuyers to save up to $40,000 tax-free to buy a first home (probably replacing the current RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan). And, like the Conservatives, the Liberals are promising to double the Home Buyers’ Amount from $750 to $1,500.
Making mortgages more accessible
The Liberal Party has plans to make it easier to get a mortgage. Their promises include raising the price limit on insured mortgages to $1.25-million, reducing the cost of mortgage insurance by 25%, and requiring mortgage lenders to allow deferral of payments for up to 6 months in certain circumstances, like losing your job.
More fairness in the housing market
The Liberal platform promises legislation that will bring transparency to the process of buying a home. The party wants to bring in a "Homebuyer's Bill of Rights," ending blind bidding and giving buyers the legal right to a home inspection. They've also promised a 2-year moratorium on foreign buying and a rent-to-own program that they say will make it easier for Canadians to save a down payment.
Other small changes
While the Liberal platform's personal finance promises are primarily geared toward housing, it also promises other minor changes. For instance, they want to give self-employed people the option to participate in Employment Insurance. They want open banking in Canada by 2023 and implement a minimum tax of 15% on people earning more than $216,000 per year.
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Green Party and their plan for your personal finances
Annamie Paul and the Green Party promise to improve your finances not by reforming existing systems but by reforming the system itself. Under a Green government, Canada would see a shift toward universal programs that benefit everybody. Key promises in the Green Platform include:
Instituting a universal basic income
The Green platform promises the creation of a Guaranteed Livable Income program that would extend to all Canadians. The platform also promises universal post-secondary education, pharmacare, dental care and child care.
Making housing fairer
The Green Party doesn't want to make it easier for you to buy a home; they want to make it easier for you to have a home. In addition to significant investments in non-profit and cooperative housing, they promise a national moratorium on evictions, national standards on rent control and an increased tax on vacant homes.
Cancelling all student loan debt
The Green Party promises to forgive 100% of federally held student loan debt.
The bottom line
From a personal finance perspective, the primary issue in this election is housing. All four major parties promise to make changes that will improve your ability to have a place to live – but they're all approaching it differently.
- The NDP promises to build affordable housing and let you spread your mortgage payments over a more extended period.
- The Conservative Party promises to make it easier to access a mortgage and lower costs by promoting competition in banking.
- The Liberal Party promises a homebuyers’ bill of rights and expanded programs for first-time homebuyers.
- And the Green Party promises to improve access to housing through legislation and a universal basic income.
Whichever approach works best for you, make sure you vote on September 20th. By casting your ballot, you're helping direct the future of our country and securing your right to complain.