Giving Canadians money to help buy their first homes appeals to voters, but it also drives up the cost of housing overall, Bill Morneau said on Monday.
“When you’re knocking on people’s doors, people want to know that you’re going to give them more money so they can get into their first house if they’re renting, or they can find enough to save for the down payment,” the former Liberal finance minister said in an interview with political journalist Paul Wells.
“When you do that, you end up pumping up the cost of housing. You end up making it more difficult for people, ironically, by pushing more money into that part of the economy,” Morneau went on.
“Being more careful means you need to think about how you can make housing just that little bit more challenging to get, so that people have enough of a down payment so they’re going to be successful in the long term.”
Governments focus on expanding the housing supply instead, Morneau said.
“We’re making progress in some parts of Canada right now, thinking about that, but there’s so much more to be done in thinking about whether we have the right amount of density to deal with the needs of housing and the real challenge of new Canadians coming and wanting to find a place to live,” he said.
“It’s a much more complicated challenge than just merely giving out money.”
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All levels of government must work together on local zoning laws and immigration to ensure housing remains accessible, he added.
Morneau left the federal government in August 2020 after five years in politics. He made the comments during a live taping of the Paul Wells Show while promoting his new book, Where To From Here, which also details his experiences with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Morneau says he’s happy to not be involved in politics anymore, characterizing his departure as a “weekend of angst.” He is more focused on spending time with family.