VICTORIA – A tax on foreign home buyers in Metro Vancouver is being changed to exempt people who have come to British Columbia as part of the provincial nominee program.
Premier Christy Clark says the exemption is aimed at helping attract skilled workers to the province, particularly in the technology sector.
“Our growing tech sector depends on the provincial nominee program, and that’s why we’re removing barriers, so they can get to work, create jobs, and help build B.C.,” Clark said in a news release.
The exemption is available to people who purchase a principal residence in Metro Vancouver.
The government brought in the 15 per cent tax last August in the Vancouver area after months of scorching house sales. Prices and sales have cooled since the tax came into effect, but some analysts have said the market was already showing signs of softening.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver pegged the benchmark price for detached properties at about $1.47 million in February, down 6.5 per cent over the previous six months. The price of condominiums rose in February as the board reported high demand for them.
People who came to B.C. under the provincial nominee program and who purchased a principal residence on or after Aug. 2, 2016, will also be able to apply for a retroactive exemption.
The province has also made rebates available to foreign nationals who became permanent residents or Canadian citizens within one year of purchasing a principal residence. To be eligible, those people must continuously live in the property as their principal residence for a full year.
The provincial government says 6,000 people arrived in B.C. under the provincial nominee program in 2016, and the same number has been allocated to the province for this year.
The program, available across Canada, selects and fast-tracks permanent residence applications for certain individuals who have already expressed an interest in settling in a specific province.
Nine-hundred of the spots in B.C.’s program last year were intended to benefit the tech sector.
The province says employment growth in the tech sector outpaced the general jobs growth rate last year, rising by 2.9 per cent.
Finance Minister Michael de Jong said the tax on foreign buyers is achieving the government’s goals in the Vancouver area.
“Together with other housing affordability initiatives introduced by the provincial government, the additional property transfer tax has helped moderate prices and create the conditions that are allowing housing supply to catch up to demand,” he said in a news release. “We are now in a position to provide targeted relief to help ensure our province continues to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs who want to invest and start businesses here.”