BUSINESS

Canada's Central Banker 'Happy' With Ontario Housing Measures

04/22/2017 09:45 EDT | Updated 04/22/2017 09:53 EDT
WASHINGTON — Measures to cool the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area have received a warm response from Canada's central banker, who said Saturday it should have some effect on runaway housing prices.

"I'm happy there are measures," Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, told reporters during financial meetings in Washington. "It's a risk we've been highlighting," he said of skyrocketing housing prices in Toronto.

The Ontario government announced a series of measures after home prices surged one-third in a year to an average value above $1 million. The moves included a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers, similar to a tax in Vancouver, in Ontario's Greater Golden Horseshoe — an area stretching from the Niagara Region to Peterborough.

“It's a risk we've been highlighting.”
— Stephen Poloz

Poloz said the Vancouver move appears to have had some impact on galloping prices there, though the effect still being assessed. He said he has every reason to believe Ontario's policies will affect prices there too.

He said he believed the issue of controlling runaway prices was a matter of psychology, more than market fundamentals. He said the right way to deal with that was policy tools — not increasing interest rates.

charles sousa

Premier Kathleen Wynne and provincial Finance Minister Charles Sousa are bringing in new rules for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area's housing market. (Photo: Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The federal government has applauded Ontario's move — but has said there's no reason to introduce a similar tax coast-to-coast.

Poloz noted that the moves in B.C. and Ontario had made international news. He said peers at last year's annual meeting asked him about the Vancouver policy, but that the Toronto announcement did not come up in chats this week.

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