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Even Affordable Homes Require Jobs

Housing prices are linked to a province’s economy and specifically employment.

BC has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada at 4.8%.

BC also has the highest average home price at $739,000. .

The lowest home prices are in the Atlantic provinces averaging from $178,000 in New Brunswick to $255,000 in Nova Scotia.

Why are the prices so low?

The region has some of the highest unemployment in Canada at over 7%. Newfoundland is 14% and New Brunswick was over 9% in January.

Young people have been leaving in droves to look for work.

From 2011 to 2016, the east coast saw Canada’s biggest decline in population aged 15 to 64.

When the BC govt blames foreign buyers, speculators and others for BC’s high housing costs, they ignore the fact that a strong economy and employment are the main drivers of housing prices.

Add a large generation of millennials seeking work in BC and supply becomes even more critical.

This is not a bad problem to have as long as supply is accommodated.

Unfortunately, supply is often hindered by obstructive municipal processes, rising fees, and anti-development groups, especially in Victoria and Vancouver.    

In addition, the recently elected BC govt is using ineffective housing policies like the Speculation Tax that only serve to undermine confidence in BC’s economy.

People still need jobs to buy homes, even affordable homes, as demonstrated in Atlantic Canada.

Undermining BC’s economy to achieve affordability is bad govt policy and a classic case of be careful what you ask for – you just might get it.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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