Jagmeet Singh touts affordable housing during a campaign stop at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo on Sept. 26. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh focuses on housing during stop in Nanaimo

Federal NDP leader stopped by the Harbour City on Sept. 26

Housing and the lack of affordable housing was the main focus of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh during a campaign stop in Nanaimo.

Following campaign stops in Campbell River, Comox Valley and Parksville, Singh joined Nanaimo-Ladysmith federal NDP candidate Bob Chamberlin at the Coast Bastion Hotel on Sept. 26, where he spoke to supporters and media about Canada’s housing crisis and his party’s plan to address it.

“Housing is one of the most basic things you need in your life. If you don’t have housing it’s all you can think about,” Singh told a crowd of more than 50 supporters in Nanaimo.

Chamberlin, who spoke briefly at the event, said the NDP’s plan is a “progressive” and “outshines” all other party’s plans.

“It’s one that is grounded in truth, it is one that is grounded in facts, and it is one that is grounded in ensuring that we reduce the cost of living for all Canadians,” he said.

RELATED: NDP will tackle ‘housing crisis’ with affordable housing and up to $5,000 in rental support

The NDP is promising to build 500,000 new affordable houses over 10 years, with 250,000 homes built within five years. The party is also promising to provide $5,000 in rental support to low-income individuals, waive the federal GST or HST on the construction of affordable rental units and reintroduce 30-year mortgage terms on entry-level homes to first-time buyers.

Singh said the party knows action must be taken in the long-term and short-term on housing, explaining that the $5,000 rental support is designed to provide immediate relief to low-income people struggling to find housing.

“It’s more and more the reality. People cannot find a place to live,” he said. “It’s not just owning a place that is out of reach, even renting a place is becoming out of reach for a lot of people.”

Non-market co-op housing is needed to ensure that renters aren’t discriminated against by landlords, said Singh, explaining that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation needs to return to investing in affordable non-market housing.

“If you live around the country and you find where there is affordable housing, where there is non-market housing or non-profit housing, that is where CMHC used to make those investments, used to partner with those organizations and build those affordable places to live that were governed by the principles of accessibility and affordability,” he said. “They weren’t guided by the principles of profit. They weren’t guided by landlords seeking to exploit the people … that’s why we need a non-market option.”

Singh also said he would implement a federal foreign buyers’ tax on the sale of homes to individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, to make sure “we clamp down” on people who treat the real estate market like a “stock exchange.”

While the economy may be doing good by definition, it isn’t working for everyone and is becoming more “rigged” to help those at the very top, said Singh.

“We see on one hand the economy is going well, the economy is booming, then I hear people tell me that they are working harder than ever before, they are struggling hard and they feel like they are not getting ahead,” he said.

Singh said the NDP will pay for promises by taxing the wealthy, explaining that the party is not “in it” for rich people.

“We’re going to ask the wealthiest people, the super rich in Canada, the ones who own $20 million in fortune, we’re going to ask them to pay a little more,” he said. “We’re going to close the offshore tax havens that are making us lose $23 billion. We are going to make sure they pay their fair share.”

Asked how an NDP government would encourage or ensure that the provincial and local governments encourage zoning or approve non-market, low-income housing projects, Singh said his party would “sit down” and negotiate with all levels of government as well as offer up money as a motivation to get housing built.

“Our incentive is funding,” he said.


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