The government will spend nearly $300 million over the next decade to collect data about the housing market.
In particular, the Liberals have budgeted $39.9 million over the next five years so that Statistics Canada can compile information on foreign ownership of homes in Canada, as well as assembling data on the demographics of owners and how they are financing their home purchases.
It’s hardly the biggest spending commitment in a federal budget that contemplates well over $300 billion in annual program spending. It’s also a fraction of the government’s $11.2 billion, 11-year national housing strategy.
But economists say it’s an important move because it would provide a clearer picture on the conditions driving housing prices. While some provinces, such as B.C. and Ontario, have moved to compile their own data on home ownership, the nationwide picture has been one of anecdote, not evidence.
The funding will enable Statistics Canada to create the Housing Statistics Framework, a database of all properties in Canada that will track purchases and sales. “Statistics Canada will begin to publish Housing Statistics Framework data in the fall of 2017,” the budget document states.
The creation of the Housing Statistics Framework is one of several housing-related measures in the budget. Much of this spending, which is called the national housing strategy, is directed toward boosting the amount of subsidized housing that is available to low-income Canadians. For example, a National Housing Fund will receive $5 billion in funding over the next 11 years.