CBC: Homeowner grant is good politics but may be bad policy

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January 10, 2017 | Richard Zussman

Quoted from the article:

But the B.C. Liberals aren’t the only ones aware of the political ramifications of either keeping the homeowner grant or getting rid of it entirely.

B.C. NDP housing critic David Eby has spent more than a year attacking the provincial government’s policies on housing affordability. This, though, is one issue he is mostly leaving alone.

Eby is quick to point out a B.C. NDP government would not get rid of the grant but would tweak the program if it didn’t have a profound impact on most taxpayers. 

“I just don’t think that people that don’t pay income tax in British Columbia should be eligible for this grant,” said Eby.

“I am talking about people who are either permanent residents or citizens who are buying property in B.C. but not paying income tax in B.C.”

But imagine the sort of thing the B.C. NDP or the B.C. Liberals could do with more than $80 million. One of those issues could be further support for those renting in the province, especially in areas like Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna where vacancy levels are around one per cent. 

But Eby says the NDP’s solution is not in moving the money from the grant but in finding other funds or strengthening renting regulations, which, he says, costs very little. 

“The grant fails to recognize the significant number of people who are renting,” said Eby. “I think the gap around not just benefits like a grant for renters but also even basic protections for renters is an ongoing issue and blind spot certainly for this government.”

And while there are many things on which Eby and the B.C. Liberals disagree, they both concede that with an election looming, tinkering with the homeowner grant is not a good idea.

Read the full article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/homeowner-grant-is-good-politics-but-may-be-bad-policy-1.3929573