The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) claims to exist for a single reason: 'to make housing affordable for everyone in Canada.'
As a result, Parliament launched a 10-year, $40 billion national housing strategy in 2017 that doubled costs to $89 billion.
But the CMHC has also charged taxpayers $75 million in bonuses since 2020, despite being far from solving Canada's housing affordability crisis.
The CMHC estimated in June that Canada needs 3.5 million new housing units by 2030 to have sufficient affordable housing. That would require doubling the annual average of 200,000 units to nearly 400,000.
"While federal spending to provide affordable housing and address homelessness has increased, so too has the cost of residential construction, reducing the real purchasing power of federal spending," said economists Carleigh Busby and Lisa Barkova of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).
Another CMHC report attributed the longer approval times to rising building costs and burdensome regulations.
Toronto and Vancouver experienced the most extended approval times in the country, with the average asking price for a rental unit up 7.5% nationwide to over $2,040 monthly in July.
The recent 2023 Housing Market Outlook by the CMHC predicted declining affordability in both cities as housing demand continues to exceed supply, making it difficult for first-time buyers to make inroads in the housing market.
"Slow permits mean higher prices. Higher prices mean Canadians can't afford to put a roof over their head," Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters on July 14.
"A Poilievre-led government will incentivize our cities to speed up and lower the cost of building permits to free up land so builders can build, build, build."
However, a shortage of construction workers also increased overall building expenses, making it more expensive for developers to build apartment buildings and affordable units.
"Not enough new people are entering the workforce to offset those leaving, so the workforce is a significant factor," said Ted Kesik, professor of building science at the University of Toronto.
Fewer recruits amid an "accelerated" need for affordable housing means the housing supply has fallen below demand.
Though housing markets may have cooled somewhat, interest rate hikes have also made mortgages more expensive and difficult to obtain.
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average home price increased by 2.4% in 2022. This followed a 21% increase in 2021 and a 13% increase in 2020.
However, the CMHC claims it is "driven by one goal: housing affordability for all," according to its website.
"If the CMHC's number one goal is housing affordability, then it doesn't make sense to shower employees with bonuses and balloon its C-suite compensation while Canadians can't afford to buy a home," said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
A recent RBC report concurred that "owning a home is still huge [if not impossible] stretch for middle-income households in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, and Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax to a lesser degree."
"Almost 70% of Canadians say homeownership is only for the rich. But it doesn't matter here at the CMHC because it's bonus time," said Terrazzano.
According to documents released through access to information requests and published by the CTF, 2,292 CMHC employees received $26,867,455 in bonuses last year.
With the average bonus paid to CMHC employees at $11,700 last year, internal records indicate that 90% of staff have received an annual bonus in recent years.
"Home prices in Canada are out of control. And the bureaucrats you pay to keep your homes affordable…are too busy to do their one job because they have to keep cashing in their big bonus cheques," said the CTF.
However, agency spokesperson Claudie Chabot told CTV, "CMHC is committed to recognizing employee performance and contributions to the organization through cash compensation, which includes a blend of base pay and incentive pay."
"The total compensation offered by CMHC as an employer — including base salaries and incentive pay — is an important tool for attracting and retaining the employees we need to carry out our work and deliver on important programs for Canadians."
The taxpayers' group revealed that the number of CMHC employees earning over $100,000 annually jumped 27% between 2018 and 2022 to 931 people.
According to its 2022 annual report, the average compensation for the CMHC's nine executive committee members was $697,667 — a $23,556 increase over 2021. The total annual compensation paid to executives increased by $721,000 in the last five years.
"This is another example of the government rewarding failure with taxpayer-funded bonuses. In the real world, when you fail at your job, you might get the boot, not a big bonus," Terrazzano told Rebel News.
When asked how the federal government could correct course on the housing portfolio, the CTF Federal Director said: "Reject home equity taxes, work to remove the red tape stopping homes from getting built and end the bonuses at failing Crown corporations like the CMHC."
"Canadians need more homes, not highly paid government executives and bureaucrats taking big bonuses."
In Budget 2023, the federal government outlined plans to "ensure [Crown corporations] achieve comparable spending reductions, which would account for an estimated $1.3 billion over four years starting in 2024/25, and $450 million ongoing."
The CTF urged Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to keep her promise to taxpayers and cut wasteful spending.