Please note: the federal government is constantly updating their website as new information is announced. Remember to check Canada’s official coronavirus webpage and CREA’s COVID-19 online hub to stay up to date.
As 2021 begins shrouded in uncertainty resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CREA is here to help REALTORS® navigate a complicated market and maintain the highest standards of service for their clients. We work with key decision-makers year-round to drive legislative and regulatory changes that benefit Canadian housing and are pleased to provide summary of measures that can help you kickstart the year.
CREA has been in ongoing discussions with government since the emergence of COVID-19. We’ve had meaningful conversations about the unique challenges facing REALTORS® and the potentially devastating outcomes of any interruptions to their day-to-day business. The government responded to calls for significant action with the following measures:
- the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), a wage subsidy to help businesses keep and re-hire employees and avoid layoffs. The CEWS has been extended until June 2021.
- the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free, partially forgivable, loans to small businesses and not-for-profits that have experienced diminished revenues due to COVID-19, but face ongoing non-deferrable costs, such as rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and wages.
- the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), provides taxable income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
- the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), a taxable benefit for workers who are unable to work due to the effects of COVID-19.
- the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), a taxable benefit for workers who are forced to take care of a family member for reasons related to COVID-19.
- the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which provides rent subsidies directly to businesses, rather than landlords, with a base subsidy rate of up to 65% available on eligible expenses.
- the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), to provide additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
Help for First-Time Buyers
Despite the pandemic, CREA continued to trumpet the importance of housing to government in 2020. The following is a summary of some advocacy wins for REALTORS® and their clients.
- the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.
- the Home Buyers’ Amount (Home buyers’ tax credit) offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired during the year. For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.
- the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive offers eligible first-time home buyers 5 or 10% of a qualifying home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment through a shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada.
- the GST/HST new housing rebate allows an individual to recover some of the GST or the federal part of the HST paid for a new or substantially renovated house that is for use as the individual’s, or their relation’s, primary place of residence.
- To help homeowners improve their home energy efficiency, the federal government has proposed providing up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 for energy-efficient improvements to homes, and up to one million free EnerGuide energy assessments. Additional information on home energy efficiency grants will be provided in a future announcement, and eligibility for these grants will be retroactive to December 1, 2020.
- The aforementioned First-Time Home Buyer Incentive will be expanded in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. Changes include the eligible buyer’s income threshold being raised from $120,000 to $150,000 as well as the ability to purchase a home up to 4.5 times household income— an increase from the current limit of four times household income.
This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you need professional advice you should consult a lawyer, accountant or other qualified professional.