Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Federal Election next Monday: Here’s what each party is promising homebuilders and renovators

Canadian Contractor

Most of our industry is regulated by municipal and provincial governments. But the Federal Government still has a big role to play. Both the Conservatives and the Green Party say that, if they are elected, they will bring back the Home Renovation Tax Credit.

It’s Federal Election Day next Monday, Oct. 19.

Have you decided who you’ll vote for?

If not, perhaps this article will help you to make up your mind. Canadian Contractor asked each of the four major parties to summarize their platforms re: the homebuilding and renovations industry in this country.



Here is what they told us (the 4 national parties listed in alphabetical order, followed by the PQ):






The incumbent government makes its best pitch to the home building and renovation industry by emphasizing and re-booting programmes that have been popular in the past:

SH in hat* Raise the amount that first-time home-buyers can draw out of their RRSPs to buy a first house from $25,000 to $35,000 without penalty. The homebuyer would still have to pay back the funds within 15 years without the benefit of the RRSP contribution tax credit while replenishing the money.

* Re-introduce and make permanent the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC). The credit would be a 15% annual credit on renovations between $1,000 and $5,000. This is also seen as a way to reduce the impact of the underground economy within the renovation industry estimated by Statistics Canada to $42.4 billion.

*A 15% Home Accessibility Tax Credit, to help Canadians “age in place.” This credit would apply on a annual maximum of $10,000 of eligible home renovation expenditures– a potential tax bill reduction of $1,500.

* The Conservatives claim that these and other measures will result in 700,000 new Canadian homeowners by 2020 and contribute considerably to the creation of 1.2 million new jobs nationally over the next four years.







Elizabeth May’s party told us that their platform for our industry involves much more than just environmental initiatives:

*Re-introduce and expand the Home Renovation Tax Credit to create incentives for both individuals and companies to make homes and businesses more efficient and accessible.

elizabeth*Revive the successful EcoEnergy program supporting retrofits to houses and buildings that expired in 2011, and expand it by 50% to $600 million a year. The Green Party expects this will “unleash an army of carpenters, electricians and contractors to reduce energy costs and resultant greenhouse gases in older public buildings, including schools, universities and hospitals.”

*Boost access to apprentice programs in key trades, and support those with skills to train youth through financial support to tradesmen in construction, electricity, plumbing, carpentry, pipefitting, welding and other trades. Also expand industry-based job training and apprenticeship programs.

*Implement a National Housing Strategy based on Housing First principles, quickly providing people experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness with the stable housing they need and ensuring access to additional supports as needed.

*Construction of 20,000 new and 10,000 rehabilitated affordable and rental housing units each year for the next decade.

*Index the GST New Home Rebate to inflation, which the party believes has eroded this rebate to the point where too many Canadians no longer qualify for a full rebate.

*Index the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan to the Consumer Price Index in $2,500 increments, to ensure it remains a useful tool for people buying their first homes.








The Liberals have chosen to focus on rental, affordable and senior housing construction via developers and builders, and home renovation aimed at ‘change of life’ events:

*Pledge $125 million per year in tax incentives for landlords and developers to build and renovate rental units in order to make investment in affordable housing and residences for seniors.

JT in hat*Increase the new residential rental property rebate on the GST to 100 percent, eliminating all GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing.

*Direct the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide financing to support construction by the private sector, social enterprises, co-ops, and the not-for-profit sector of new, affordable rental housing for middle- and low-income Canadians

*Modernize the existing Home Buyers’ Plan to help more Canadians finance the purchase of a home and by allowing Canadians impacted by sudden and significant life changes, such as job relocation, the death of a spouse, marital breakdown, or a decision to accommodate an elderly family member, to access and use money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan to buy a house without tax penalty.






The NDP has had little to say about the homebuilding and renovation industry directly except to address energy savings and social housing:

TM in hat*Invest in provincial, territorial and municipal home energy programs to retrofit 50,000 homes and 15,000 apartment units to lower energy bills ($200 million over 4 years).

*Tax breaks to kick-start the construction of 10,000 new affordable rental units, both in the private sector and with social housing, and renewal of funding agreements for co-operative housing across the country to address housing affordability.

*Work with provinces to create a ‘new fund’ to help Canadians retrofit their residences and thus retain value in existing homes.




The regional Bloc do not have any policy pledges that directly impact home building or home renovation. However some of their promises do intersect the industry:

*Implement a 10-year, interest-free loan program for first-time home buyers.

Duceppe2*Provide financing to maintain and build social housing.

*Provide tax incentives to help families convert their home heating system from heating oil to electricity, which is mainly produced from renewable energy

*Table a “wood charter” that would promote wood construction for federal buildings.

Be sure to exercise your democratic right!


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