Op-Eds

Although housing is mainly a provincial jurisdiction, the federal government is seized with the pressing political and policy problem of how to increase the housing stock, and sooner rather than later. Ottawa’s proper role in housing is to focus on areas of direct federal control like taxes and immigration. Direct intervention on city-by-city zoning decisions would be unwise and would likely only worsen the housing crisis.

The federal government has made a good start on housing by exempting rental construction from GST. But it needs to do more. Ottawa’s GST take from housing has been rising stealthily since the early 1990s because of inflation. To merely reverse the increases, it should inflation-index and nearly double…

The cost of housing in Canada has increased dramatically in recent years. In some cities, barriers to getting new homes built are a major reason why.

Barriers to constructing new single-detached homes drive a wedge between what it costs to build and the market price. On average between 2011 and 2021, a single-detached home in the Vancouver area cost homebuyers $2 million. But the construction cost of a new home was only about $700,000. The $1.3-million difference reflected high costs for the right to build on the limited land governments allowed housing to be built on. Homes in the Toronto area now cost homebuyers $350,000 more than they cost to build. In the Montreal area, however, the difference between cost…

City budgets are a mystery to most Canadians. The municipal services they fund are central to our quality of life, and they affect our property taxes and charges for services such as water access and garbage collection. Yet few of us delve into these seminal documents that lay out plans for revenue and expenses for the coming year – and if we do, we likely come away bewildered. Canadians need and deserve more transparent city budgets.

If you have not yet peered into the murk of municipal budgets yourself, we encourage you to visit your own city’s website and search for its most recent budget. We are now well into March, so your municipality’s 2023 budget should be online. If it is not – the lateness of many city budgets is a…

Interest is ramping up again in Calgary and Ottawa about new NHL arenas for each city’s downtown, after earlier projects failed to launch. Modern downtown arenas would have obvious attractions for owners and fans in both cities. If the projects proceed, however, it’s a lock that taxpayers will be asked to provide financial support. Should they? And, if they do, on what conditions?

The main purpose of any new building is to help the private owners of the franchise make more money by selling more tickets, luxury boxes, refreshments and advertising, including naming rights. In an ideal world, buildings would be completely privately financed and operate profitably thanks to strong demand, with frequent use…

Yet another alarming inflation number from Statistics Canada — 7.7 per cent from May to May — has underlined that something is seriously wrong with Canada’s economy. Prices are rising fast because spending is rising fast while production is not. The capacity of our economy to produce is flatlining because business investment has been so weak that the stock of productive capital per worker is falling. If we do not turn that around, the outlook for real growth in living standards in the coming months, years and decades is bleak.

The basic problem is chronically low business investment, which has been the highlight — or lowlight — of Statistics Canada’s quarterly GDP reports for several years now. The cumulative effect of low rates…