Affordability has long been one of Vancouver’s nagging issues, with the cost of an average detached home in the city recently breaching the $2.2-million mark. And while a gamut of reasons have been blamed for these prices, an industry analyst pointed at Canada’s immigration rules as a main driver for the housing sector’s seemingly non-stop growth.
In an analysis for the Toronto Sun
, best-selling author Candice Malcolm argued that the record-high prices and sales in Vancouver—which has been recently recognized by The Economist
as the least affordable city in North America—have been spurred by the influx of wealthy foreign investors that keep purchasing properties left and right without occupying these spaces.
“The problem, in part, can be blamed on Canada’s immigration rules — particularly the Immigration Investor Program. Under [this] program, wealthy immigrants could hand over $800,000 to the federal government in exchange for permanent residency,” Malcolm explained in her article.
“Five years later, the government would return the money with no strings attached,” Malcolm wrote. “That’s it. If you had $800,000, or could access it through loans and mortgages, you could get a Canadian passport.”
The analysis cited a 2014 report that provided figures on the long-term results of the now defunct program, which Malcolm deemed a failure. After 10 years of staying in Canada, beneficiaries of the investor program had only $15,800 as taxable salary, with one-third of the immigrant investors not filing tax returns because they supposedly had zero income.
“By contrast, the average immigrant who came through the skilled worker program earned $46,800 annually and paid $10,900 in income taxes,” Malcolm said. “Far from being a boon to our economy and creating jobs, these so-called investors are actually a drain on our social system.”
Malcolm called for the implementation of stricter requirements on foreign nationals to avoid a repeat of the previous investor program’s failure.
“If Canada wants to attract wealthy investors, we should require them to invest here, not just snap up Canadian homes, collect welfare, and drive up real estate prices for the rest of us,” she concluded.