Academic opines on Toronto’s foreign investment

by Justin da Rosa02 Sep 2016
One political scientist is urging policymakers in Toronto to ignore arguments against Vancouver’s 15% foreign buyer task if they hope to avoid a similar housing crisis in Canada’s largest city.

“There is ample evidence of foreign capital’s influence in Canada’s largest city,” Josh Gordon, assistant professor at the Simon Fraser University School of Public Policy, wrote in an article for the Globe & Mail. “Not getting it right with policy on this issue could leave it in Vancouver’s unenviable position, where only a substantial price correction will get the city back to affordability, leaving many first-time home buyers underwater on their mortgages.”

Gordon argues the current arguments floated against the tax, which include that it is racist or xenophobic, are “bad”.

“Ninety per cent of Vancouverites support the recent foreign-buyer tax,” he wrote. “Unless you think 90 per cent of Vancouverites are xenophobic or racist, then you’ll realize that this claim is silly.”

According to Gordon, the argument that there isn’t enough data to support such a tax is also faulty.
“While precise data are indeed lacking, we can infer the influence of foreign money in reliable ways. We have academic and government studies of the now-defunct Immigrant Investor Program showing that Toronto and Vancouver were by far the most popular destinations for wealth-based migration in Canada – and remain so, due to Quebec’s insistence on continuing its own program,” he wrote.

While he doesn’t outright call for a similar tax in Toronto, Gordon sure seems in favour of it.

“Yet, 82 per cent of Vancouverites say the foreign-buyer tax was long overdue,” Gordon wrote. “Don’t let the Ontario government lead you into the same crisis Vancouver now faces.”

To read Gordon’s entire take, click here.


  • by Jon 9/2/2016 10:45:52 AM

    Not to be a complete jerk, but the headline says it all: "academic opines". We need genuine math, not random thoughts from the other side of the country on this. Toronto also has it's own land transfer tax to be paid in addition to the provincial one, so adding a third tax might prove to be unreasonable. The vacant property tax actually has more potential merit, since a foreign national living here who can afford a $2 million home but who balks at $372,000 in tax (Toronto LTT, Ontario LTT plus 15% foreign head tax) will simply rent the same mansion from a wealthy investor (or controls a company) who is Canadian. I suspect that Ontario needs more foreign investment right now, rather than less of it.


Is a Toronto foreign sales tax a good idea?