Please note: Because it’s 2015: A Conversation with the Prime Minister will air on Dec. 25. at 6:00 p.m. on Global Television (6:30 p.m. on Global BC)
Canadian voters had two other parties to choose from if avoiding a big budget deficit was their biggest concern during the federal election, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but it was his party the majority of Canadians voted for.
“If deficits and slaying deficits were at the top of everyone’s mind, they had two parties that were putting that forward. We were the only party that said, ‘No, you know what? It’s time to invest and start building our country again.”
The Prime Minister defended his plan to run a $10-billion deficit in a year-end interview with Global News, in Vancouver on Thursday.
But $10 billion isn’t a firm number; Trudeau told Global National anchor and executive editor Dawna Friesen that number could go higher. “If the situation deteriorates, we might have to go further.”
He said he’s going forward with his plan to invest in infrastructure.
“Canadians know what matters is to get our economy going in a way that helps the broadest number of people,” he said before a small crowd of about 60 people who submitted their own questions to the Prime Minister via Global News Facebook pages.
“That actually creates more livable cities, better public transit so people can live and work within a reasonable distance and work effectively and smarter and have more time with their families, and understand we have to go greener as quickly as we can and be cutting edge on that. These are all things people know we need.”
The economy was front of mind for many people, be it trying to find housing they can afford or getting a job out of school.
Housing prices is something that hits home in Vancouver, where the average price of a single detached home is close to $1.6 million.
For semi-detached homes or condominiums, the average price is about $622,000, Bloomberg reported last week.
Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced last week a plan to slow down the skyrocketing housing prices by lifting the minimum down payment required for homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million. As of Feb. 15, the minimum down payment for homes in that range will rise from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.
But the prices, analysts suggest, are being driven up by foreign home ownership. A recent survey from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, for example, said foreign buyers owned 3.5 per cent of the condominiums in Vancouver this year — the highest rate in the country, The Canadian Press reported. In Toronto, foreign buyers owned 3.3 per cent of the condos.
“What measures can Canadians expect from our government to track and regulate foreign investors from creating unaffordable real estate markets, preventing Canadians from owning homes in cities we grew up in and that we work in,” Vancouver resident Marcia de Costa asked the Prime Minister.
Trudeau said putting the brakes on foreign real estate ownership could do more damage than good and “potentially devalue the equity of what a lot people have in their homes right now.”
While he said the Liberal government is looking into solutions, he added Canada has more “resources than it can support” and Canada needs global capital coming into its economy.
“You have to be very, very cautious about restricting foreign investment in our country at a time where we know we need foreign investment in businesses and resource development,” he said.
The big concern for Camille Wyllie, who submitted a question via video from Gatineau, Quebec, is trying to find a job after graduating from school.
“As most employers are asking for years of experience, what are your plans [to] make it easier for [new] graduates to enter the workforce and so that we may start contributing to society,” she asked.
That’s something Trudeau said he heard plenty about on the campaign trail.
Although he said the Liberals plan to invest millions into youth employment strategies, he also said there needs to be greater cooperation with post-secondary institutions to offer co-op programs and “paid and controlled internships.”
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