Many of our members have been asking about the next steps following the Standing Committee on Finance’s study regarding the recent mortgage rule changes. Here is what we know and how we expect the next steps to unfold over the coming months.
The Standing Committee met ‘in camera’ (i.e. behind closed doors) on February 22 and provided direction to staff and researchers on writing the report. This is standard procedure for reports of this nature. Researchers working for the Committee assemble the testimonies and written briefs and prepare a report with recommendations for the Minister. Recommendations are derived directly from the evidence provided to the Committee, however not all evidence translates into a recommendation.
During the February 22 meeting, Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs also provided direction on the recommendations and structure of the report to the Committee. However, as per parliamentary custom, this meeting was not made public and we are therefore not privy to the discussions that took place. We do know from the meeting minutes, that the Committee will consider the draft report during the week of April 3. This will likely take two meetings during which all recommendations and content will be finalized.
It is important to understand that the Liberals have a majority on the Committee and thus have control over the final recommendations and content. Most committees operate on a consensus basis but control ultimately rests with the government. However, should the Conservatives and NDP disagree with the direction the committee takes, they each have the opportunity to prepare a dissenting opinion to be included in the submission to the Minister of Finance.
After the report is finalized, it will be tabled (publicly announced in Parliament) and made public. The expectation is that this will occur in April, but it could be delayed. The process for submitting the report to the Minister of Finance is through Parliament. The Minister then has 120 days to officially respond to the Committee. Typically, a Minister will take the entire amount of time or near entire amount to respond.
Given that the Minister has to provide his response through Parliament, the House of Commons must be sitting within the 120 days for a response to be made public. As the House will rise (i.e break for summer) near the end of June, it is not expected that the report will be tabled before the summer. However, to mitigate the impacts of the summer break on parliamentary business, there are a few days - one in July and one in August - where parliamentary reports do get tabled and we expect this is when the Standing Committee’s report will be made public.
The government’s response to parliamentary committees can vary in how detailed their responses can be. Some responses speak directly to the recommendations and provide answers or direction on policy matters; however, this is uncommon. Typically, the Ministerial responses provide the government’s position on the topic and explain the reasons why they have chosen to accept or reject the Committee’s recommendations. Regardless of whether the Minister agrees with the Committee’s recommendations or the evidence provided, the report forces government officials, over the next few months, to analyze and consider the ramifications of their policy decisions.
Our collective efforts to continually pressure the Minister of Finance are crucial to convincing the government to adjust the measures they introduced in the fall. Our industry needs to remain active in educating MPs, officials, and the Minister of Finance on how these changes are increasing prices, reducing competition and negatively impacting local economies across Canada. This is why we are continuing our active government relations efforts and working hard on your behalf to bring positive change.