MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted efforts by the Liberal government to help first-time homebuyers put more down on their mortgages during a visit to a region of the country today that is facing a housing squeeze.
In its budget last week, the government introduced measures that would allow Ottawa to pick up a portion of new homebuyers' mortgage costs and it increased the amount they can borrow from their retirement savings for a down payment.
Housing has emerged as a major issue for many Canadians, especially young people who are trying to get into the real-estate market at a time when prices are soaring in some major cities.
During a visit today to Maple Ridge, B.C., Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers by allowing them to withdraw $35,000 from their RRSPs, up from $25,000, to help lower their borrowing costs.
It also brings in a means-tested incentive that would see the government pick up part of the costs of the mortgages of those eligible for the program to lower their monthly payments.
Trudeau said housing is also a concern for parents who are worried their adult children won't be able to live in the neighbourhoods where they grew up.
"Owning a house is a big achievement. It's where you raise a family and set down roots. But far too many young people are worried that they won't be able to reach that dream. Housing prices in the Lower Mainland are some of the highest in the country and rising."
Trudeau said the government has also tried to spur new building and keep prices from rising through its national housing strategy to help increase supply.
"We just can't treat the symptoms of sky-high housing prices," he added. "We have to deal with the causes as well. When there aren't enough properties on the market, more people are competing for the same places, which forces the costs up for buyers and renters."
Last Tuesday's budget also included $10 billion more for a program to fund the construction of new rental units — the third time the Liberals have expanded the program, which aims to create 14,000 units over 10 years and now carries a $50-billion price tag.
As well, Trudeau said Ottawa is helping the Canada Revenue Agency go after tax fraud and money laundering, which have also been blamed for driving up housing prices in British Columbia.