Plaid Cymru MS meets with Canadian officials to discuss housing crisis
A Plaid Cymru MS has met with Canadian officials to discuss ways of tackling the housing crisis.
After a meeting with officials from Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Dwyfor Meirionnydd Senedd member, Mabon ap Gwynfor has said Wales had a lot to learn from the approach taken in the province.
In Ontario non-citizens wishing to buy property have to pay 15% of the property value as an additional tax.
The tax was introduced in 2017 to cover the province’s Golden Horseshoe region, the area of Toronto and its environs, and has received cross party support.
Mabon ap Gwynfor has suggested that Conservatives in Wales need to follow the lead of their Canadian sister party and embrace property taxes to tackle the housing crisis.
The Assistant to The Minister of Finance, Michael Parsa MPP, a member of the Conservative and Progressive Party told Mr ap Gwynfor: “We’ve been looking at leveraging every tool within our trust to resolve the housing crisis”.
Brought in response to fears over large scale ownership of multiple properties, the tax has been hailed a success.
Ontario’s finance industry played a big role in lobbying for the charge over fears their staff and future recruits were being priced out of the region, Canada’s financial capital.
Mr ap Gwynfor said: “This is a very interesting approach and there is a lot to learn from this example. People here would be astounded to hear that it was a conservative government that brought this in and that it was the finance sector that demanded it.
“Of course it would be hard to imagine Conservatives in the UK doing something like this, it would probably be too much of a hit on the pockets of their wealthy donors.
“But it goes to show that there are countries where there are bold actions being taken to tackle the housing crisis. Going down such a route is not anti-business if it’s done in the right way.
“What Ontario has done is create a strong piece of legislation that seems to be fair and equitable and meets the needs of the communities around Toronto.
“We are finally seeing recognition from the establishment of the housing crisis across all of Wales.
“If a Welsh Government was to take bold action like this there would be all sorts of naysayers coming out of the woodwork. But in other countries this sort of initiative is not seen as bold it’s just a government doing its duty to protect all of its communities.
“Last year the Welsh Government increased the Land Transaction Tax on second homes from 3% to 4%. This has had no impact, as the sales of second homes have continued to rocket.
“There was a steep decline in the number of property sold to non-citizens in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area following the introduction of their 15% tax. This suggests that using the right tax at the right time could be beneficial for our communities.
“Letting an out of control property market run rampant has always been a recipe for disaster. ‘Yes, a few people will do very well out of it. But for people who need to get on the property ladder it is a disaster and in the long term it will wreak havoc on our economy.”