VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – What’s the point of paying for a study and then introducing a policy before that report is complete? That’s the question the NDP is asking about the BC Liberals’ move to introduce a foreign buyers tax while waiting on research on that very issue.
The Conference Board of Canada was commissioned by the province to examine the impact of foreign buyers — but before the province had a chance to get that back, the move was made to bring in the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax for Metro Vancouver.
“The government commissioned this study, which was supposed to advise them about what was causing the out of control prices in the real estate market,” says NDP Housing Critic David Eby. “It turns out to be a huge waste of public money and a waste of time for everybody, because the government acted before the study was complete. I think it’s just one more indicator about how rushed this tax was, and how poorly thought out it was, given the government had commissioned a number of studies that it didn’t even bother waiting for.”
He adds the levy is hurting many people who had deals lined up before its surprise introduction.
“The political reality was that the province wanted to do nothing, and the polls were telling them that was no longer a viable option, that they had to do something,” says Eby. “So they rushed this tax through. That’s the unfortunate piece. There were a bunch of casualties along the way. So, a number of British Columbians who had real estate deals in the pipeline for example, a number of people who live, work and pay taxes here who got hit by the tax who certainly don’t deserve to be hit by this tax, because they’re in the immigration pipeline.
“Also, a significant spend on research and studies that were totally pointless. So the government did a 180, they did a total flip flop and there were costs to that. They should admit it and they should be up front about it.”
Eby says he doesn’t know how much the study cost or if the government ever plans to release it.
In a statement to NEWS 1130, the provincial government says BC Housing in the process of examining housing affordability issues in BC to “assess key drivers of rising house prices.”
“This is a complex issue and certainly the Province finds value in any credible data or analysis which may help inform further consideration, discussion, and future decision-making. We look forward to the findings. The study is intended go far beyond the scope of recent policy changes, which government decided to act upon more quickly to address immediate challenges in related to housing affordability,” the government adds.
“Updated data on foreign investment show more than $885 million in foreign investment flowed into Metro Vancouver’s residential real estate market in just five weeks, representing 86 per cent of the capital invested in the sector by foreign purchasers throughout the province.”
A final study is expected by the end of the year and the cost of the report is said to be about $68,000.