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Christopher Pollon is an independent journalist, a contributing editor to The Tyee and a member of the Tyee Solutions/Housing Fix reporting team.
Christopher Cheung reports on affordable housing for the Housing Fix.
Chris Wood is Tyee Solutions Editor.
2016-17 funders of the Housing Fix are Vancity Credit Union, Catherine Donnelly Foundation and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., in collaboration with Columbia Institute. Funders of special solutions reporting projects neither influence nor endorse the particular content of our reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this article or other Housing Fix articles, please contact editor Chris Wood here.]
In 1984, the average Canadian who owned a home was about $104,000 richer than the average renter.
By 2012, the average Canadian homeowner was worth $824,000—the average renter just $120,000 (in constant dollars). That’s a seven-fold increase in wealth gap between owners and renters over 28 years. It’s doubtless even wider five years later. In Vancouver, roughly half of households are in each camp.
How did one half of Vancouver get so much richer than the other?
While it’s clearly not the only factor, decades of federal and provincial favouritism in tax spending have in effect pumped billions of dollars into the accounts of Canadians who own their homes, while dribbling a comparative pittance into the pockets of renters. And some of the biggest perks have gone to the very richest of Canadians. Nearly 90 per cent of the $43.6 billion in benefits lavished exclusively on home owners in this decade alone were accounted for by the exemption from capital gains tax for profits earned on the sale of a principal residence.
These graphs follow how federal tax favours have helped make Canadian home owners an awful lot richer, while renters’ savings have inched up. A future article will look at how we might restore a fairer balance.
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