COVID-19: Government Relations
Week ending March 20, 2020
Over the course of the last week, the federal government has taken a number of actions intended to support Canadians and the economy as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. CHBA National is engaging with government and stakeholders to inform further responses and support you during this challenging time.
Benchmark qualify rate change for insured mortgages
As part of the response to COVID-19, OSFI
announced that it was suspending consultations on all regulatory
initiatives, including changes to the benchmark qualifying rate for
uninsured mortgages (the stress test). Finance Canada announced
concurrently that they were suspending the implementation of the new
benchmark qualifying rate for the mortgage stress test for insured
mortgages, which was scheduled to come into effect on April 6, 2020.
This move was made in response to the lowering of interest rates, deemed
to be temporary and likely to rise as soon as the COVID crisis
alleviates, and with the intention of keeping in lockstep with OSFI.
CHBA National has been in direct communication with Finance Canada and
the Minister’s office expressing the industry’s concern over this delay
and the need to implement the stress test changes as quickly as
possible. Adjustment to the stress test and other mortgage rule changes
will be important to support Canadians and the sector in helping
Canada build back from this unprecedented time.
Engagement with Canada’s banking sector to support the residential construction sector
As municipal governments and utilities
deal with the COVID-19 crisis, many are changing or suspending
operations that involve front-line inspectors and workers. These steps
are causing delays to necessary inspections that allow residential
construction projects to close, receive occupancy permits, and allow the
builder/developer to collect the proceeds of the sale and to pay out
the credit used to finance project costs. CHBA National recognizes the
serious implications this can have for our members, and has engaged with
the office of the Minister of Finance accordingly. CHBA is also
engaging with the Canadian Banking Association to explore options for
supporting our businesses through these delays.
Trade and commerce activities exempt from travel restrictions
To slow the spread of COVID-19 across international borders, the federal government has barred access to all foreign nationals by air, directing all flights to four Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal—and will temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-US border. Trade, supply chains and essential goods and services, like food and medicine, will not be impacted at the moment.