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Three-in-four residents are dissatisfied with the actions taken by the provincial government to deal with housing issues in the province.

Vancouver, BC – The proportion of British Columbians who would like to implement a tax on absentee homeowners has increased over the past year, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 80% of British Columbians think levying a tax on people who acquire properties in a city but don’t live in them is a “very good” or “good” idea—up seven points since a similar Insights West poll conducted last year.

The idea is popular with all age groups, from a high of 89% for residents aged 18-to-34 to a low of 75% among those aged 55 and over. The proposed new tax is also supported by 83% of British Columbians of East Asian descent.

In Metro Vancouver, where discussions about the affordability of real estate have exacerbated in recent months, the level of support for an absentee homeowner tax stands at 82%.


All three levels of government get a scathing review from the public on their willingness to deal with housing issues, with 70% of British Columbians expressing dissatisfaction with the actions of the federal government. The numbers are worse for the provincial government (76% dissatisfied, 13% satisfied) and slightly better for municipal governments (65% dissatisfied, 20% satisfied).

“The proportion of British Columbians who would like to implement an absentee homeowner tax continues to grow,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “It is important to note that the level of dissatisfaction with the way the provincial government has handled this file includes three-in-four homeowners and residents aged 55 and over, as well as four-in-five Metro Vancouverites and high-income earners.”

Across the province, two-in-five British Columbians (40%) believe real estate is the best long-term investment that they can make, significantly ahead of other purchases including mutual funds (17%), gold and precious metals (7%) and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) (also 7%).

Almost nine-in-ten British Columbians (87%) believe that people who own homes but don’t live in them are speculators and not really part of the community. However, four-in-five (79%) think that, when foreigners buy homes here, their purchases boost the value of homes that are owned by Canadians.

Only one-in-four British Columbians (25%) believe the debate on foreign real estate ownership in British Columbia is inherently racist, including 40% of British Columbians of East Asian descent.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 31 to June 3, 2016, among 802 adult British Columbians. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West


Photograph: David J Laporte