The latest budget formally ended the controversial Immigration Investor Program. The program, also known as the “cash-for-visa” program allowed immigrants with a minimum net worth of $1.6 million permanent residency in Canada in exchange for a five year interest free loan to the federal government of $800,000. The federal budget announcement concluded that most immigrant investors were not making a long-term positive economic contribution to Canada. According to the document “Over a 20 year career, an immigrant investor pays about $200,000 less in federal income taxes than a skilled worker…” A new federal pilot program is in the works but the details are not yet clear. Some suspect that under a new program, the federal government will tighten the residency requirements for foreign investors applying for a Canadian Visa.
What does this mean for North Shore buyers and sellers? Although there is no federal data, my experience indicates that most North Shore buyers are not “off shore immigrant buyers”. While some areas, such as West Vancouver’s British Properties, tend to attract that segment of the market, most of the North Shore buying is from individuals who already own a home in the Lower Mainland. Also, the cancellation of the program does not mean the end of immigrant buying; it simply means that there will be a different program in place. There was a back log of 65,000 applicants when the program was suspended in 2012. Many of those applicants will re- apply under the new guidelines. The North Shore will continue, in my opinion, to be one of the most desirable areas in all of Canada.