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.

Issues Watchlist

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.