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Parties pitch plans to help young people buy homes, seniors retire in security

Housing takes centre stage as leaders continue to comb the country
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with reporters after taking part in a virtual G7 meeting on the crisis in Afghanistan virtually from Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, Aug 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal Liberals made an election promise aimed at helping young people buy a home while the Conservatives and NDP pitched plans to ensure economic security and health in their sunset years.

In Hamilton, Ont., Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, grants and tax incentives Tuesday to address the housing affordability crisis, which has grown since he came to office in 2015.

Trudeau said the money would help develop rent-to-own projects with an array of partners, creating a pathway to home ownership for renters in five years or less.

Overall, the Liberals said their plan would build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes in the next four years.

A First Home Savings Account would allow Canadians under 40 to save up to $40,000 toward their first home and withdraw it tax-free to put toward their purchase, with no requirement to repay it.

The plan also includes a Housing Accelerator Fund, which would make $4 billion available to help large cities speed up their housing plans, with a target of 100,000 new middle-class homes by 2024-25.

Trudeau rejected a suggestion the planned measures were a tacit admission the Liberals’ four-year-old national housing strategy had failed.

“On the contrary, over the past number of years, hundreds of thousands of families have gotten new homes, have a safer place to live,” Trudeau said.

“We’re putting forward an extremely ambitious plan that is going to continue to get people not just into homes, but help them buy those homes.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau had sided with wealthy speculators for six years as they’ve pushed the price of a home out of reach for others.

“If he really wanted to make housing more affordable for people, he’d have done it already.”

Speaking in Ottawa, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole pledged to give priority to pensioners over “corporate elites” during bankruptcy or restructuring proceedings.

The plan would prevent executives from paying themselves bonuses while managing a company going through restructuring, unless the pension plan is fully funded.

It was the second appeal to rank-and-file workers in as many days from O’Toole, an effort to persuade voters the party is more than an ally of big business.

Singh promised to take the profit out of long-term care homes and create national standards to ensure the well-being of residents.

During a stop in Mississauga, Ont., Singh said seniors living in for-profit facilities had higher infection and death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic than those in non-profit care.

“The goal of a for-profit home is not to care for people, it’s to make profit,” Singh said. “And any time when you’re talking about caring about vulnerable people, if the goal is profit, corners are going to be cut and people are going to suffer. And that to me is just not on.”

If there are no changes, “we’re going to see hundreds of seniors die,” Singh said. “That’s not a price I’m willing to pay.”