Since being elected in 2015, the Federal Liberal Government has made numerous changes with respect to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) policy that in many situations has made it more difficult to obtain a mortgage or in the case of re-financing an existing mortgage, more expensive. Generally the Liberal Government has reasoned these changes are intended to slow down the Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets and lower overall consumer debt.
Why would the Government want to slow down the real estate market in Toronto and Vancouver? The theory is if fewer buyers can qualify to purchase homes, the demand will decrease and prices will potentially drop as a result and by extension increase affordability in these markets.
The challenge with this particular approach is that CMHC policies are very much a 'one size fits all'. That means that although Vancouver and Toronto are the primary targets of these new restrictions, the rest of Canada is also subject to them and as a result many regions of Canada may be adversely impacted. This was feedback I heard extensively during hearings at the Finance Committee back in February when these changes were heavily scrutinized.
One particular point that was raised from one stakeholder is that while the Liberals crack down on debt taken on for home ownership, overlooked is the consumer debt on credit cards, third party loan outfits and elsewhere. The difference is that with debt taken on in home ownership there can be equity created and much lower interest costs in contrast to credit card debt.
It is a valid point.
More recently the Trudeau Liberal Government quietly announced that it will raid CMHC to the tune of $ 4 Billion over the next two years. This announcement received very little media attention and that is disappointing. For those who have mortgages with a down payment less than 20%, the CMHC fees required to provide insurance on that mortgage are substantial. Instead of reducing CMHC fees to make them more affordable or refund the surplus to those who have paid them, the Liberals are instead using CMHC as cash grab, contrary to the purpose of this organization.
Rather than just oppose, I would like to propose an alternative. Instead of taking $4 Billion from CMHC to go into general revenue, why not offer a GST exemption on new housing up to $750,000, similar to what the BC Government has done with the property purchase tax exemption. This policy would reduce the costs of home ownership by tens of thousands of dollars. At the same time this policy would help stimulate economic activity through increased construction, would increase housing supply and would help Canada’s value added wood producers hit hard by the current softwood lumber dispute.
My question this week – Instead of a $4 Billion cash grab from CMHC would you support those funds being used for a GST rebate on new housing?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call 1-800-665-8711
In last week’s report I raised the fact that Ottawa is soon to restrict Credit Unions from using terms like “bank, banker, and banking”. The reaction I heard from citizens was one of overwhelming opposition and in many cases bewilderment. I should also add that the sheer number of responses I heard was also very significant. Clearly this is an issue that many in our region have strong feelings about.
What can be done about it? The legislation that allows Ottawa to restrict Credit Unions from using these words is contained in the Bank Act. I am currently in the process of drafting a Private Members Bill to amend the Bank Act that will remove these language restrictions and allow Credit Unions to continue to successfully operate as they have for many decades now.
Unfortunately the order that Private Members Bills can be debated in the House of Commons are decided by a lottery style draw that does now allow this Bill to presented in a timely manner. In the interim a local citizen is in the process of having an online petition approved by the House of Commons that citizens can sign online.
If there is strong support for this petition I am hopeful that the Liberal Government will either amend the Bank Act to remove this attack on Credit Unions or at a minimum intervene and ask that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions review this enforcement decision. Almost without exception I have not heard any support at all for restricting Credit Unions from using terms like bank, banker or banking. As one citizen observed – will food banks be targeted by Ottawa next?
My question this week – would you support my Private Members Bill to amend the Bank Act and by extension would you be willing to sign an online petition opposing this attack on our Credit Unions?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711
Sometimes I find Ottawa related media coverage can be frustrating.
As an example you have likely heard this week one or more stories related to President Trump and Russia.
However have you heard that Canada’s Credit Unions are once again under attack from Ottawa?
As a result I wrote the following Op-Ed on this topic that I would like to share for my MP Report this week.
Do you bank with a Credit Union? Soon, thanks to the long arm of Ottawa, that may come to an end.
You see last week the federal agency responsible for regulating banks and other financial institutions quietly issued new regulations that will damage the thousands of credit unions and caisses populaires that operate across our country.
The regulations issue a blanket prohibition on the use of terms like “bank”, “banker”, and “banking” by basically any entity other than the big banks. Credit unions, who have traditionally been allowed to use common terms like “bank with us” or “online banking”, will no longer be allowed to do so.
And why the sudden change?
No explanation has been forthcoming. This has left credit unions and their customers confused as to why they would want to change a decades-old practice. The result of these changes will be increased costs for credit unions, which will have to pay for changes to signage and other marketing. Moreover, it will put them at a further competitive disadvantage when compared to the big banks.
Over the past several months, credit unions and Parliamentarians alike have reached out to the regulator and to the Finance Minister to strongly oppose these changes. In fact, at an All-Party Credit Union Caucus meeting on Parliament Hill, MPs and Senators from all parties agreed that these changes were unnecessary and harmful.
Unfortunately their views seem to have fallen on deaf Liberal ears.
There are over 300 credit unions nationwide that serve over 5.5 million members.
Credit unions provide a community-focused approach to finances and are regularly recognized as leaders in customer service. Instead of making business harder for these important institutions, we should be looking for ways to help ensure that credit unions can thrive and prosper in our communities.
It is not too late for the Finance Minister to step in and change these regulations. I call on him to do the right thing.
What can you do? Contact your local MP and tell them you value banking with your credit union and to stop this regulatory attack against Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires.
My question for you this week is do you agree with this decision to restrict Credit Unions from being able to use words like “bank”, “banker”, and “banking”?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
The Fourth of July is Independence Day in the United States. It was also on July 4th this week when it was reported that the Liberal Government had agreed to apologize and pay $10.5 Million to Omar Khadr. For those of you unfamiliar with Omar Khadr, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for participating in an al-Qaeda sponsored war crime after admitting to killing US Army combat medic Sgt. Christopher Speer.
This decision by the Liberals to potentially pay in excess of $10 Million to Omar Khadr has created the largest amount of negative feedback and in many cases outrage, of any issue I have come across during my time in elected office. The questions I most frequently am asked is why did the Liberals offer this deal to Omar Khadr and what can be done to stop it?
At this point the Liberals have yet to formally confirm or explain the reasons behind this reported $10.5 Million payment. What we do know is that the Supreme Court was of the opinion that Omar Khadr’s human rights were violated during the time he was in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and that Canadians officials were aware of this.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court rulings on Omar Khadr’s human rights violations did not include any financial compensation. As a result Omar Khadr had commenced legal action against the Canadian Government suggesting it should be held responsible for the treatment he received at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For reasons yet unknown rather than vigorously fight this lawsuit it is reported that the Liberals have instead offered $10.5 Million and an apology to Omar Khadr to settle this legal claim.
In a related action, the widow of the US Army Combat medic killed by Omar Khadr had filed a legal action in 2015 against Mr.Khadr and was ultimately successfully awarded $134.2-million in damages. It has also been reported the widow may file a claim in Canada in an effort to have the $134 million judgement enforced in Canada thus potentially impacting the payment of the $10.5 Million to Omar Khadr.
So back to the original question, what can be done to stop this? In this case, only the Liberal Government can stop this agreement and related $10 Million payment from going forward. If that were to occur the legal case would most certainly continue. Most of the documented involvement of Canadian officials was between the years 2003 and 2004 under the Liberal Governments of former Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and later Paul Martin. If this case were to move forward it is conceivable the former actions of these governments would be heavily scrutinized.
For the record, I was a member of the Conservative caucus in the previous 41st Parliament where the Conservative Government staunchly opposed the payment of any funds to Omar Khadr. It should also be pointed out that some do support the payment of these funds to Omar Khadr and have applauded the Liberals for offering a settlement as opposed to more litigation. My question this week is do you support or oppose the $10.5 Million payment to Omar Khadr?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.