TORONTO -- There are pressures on the real estate market that need to be alleviated, but Ottawa must exercise caution because any measures it implements have a national effect, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
"There's a recognition that the levers that the federal government has cover the entire country and the housing market in Vancouver or Toronto is somewhat different than that in Halifax or Saskatoon or even Montreal," Trudeau said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
His comments came as the Ontario government unveiled a suite of changes intended to stabilize home prices in the Greater Toronto Area, which have leapt by more than 30 per cent in the last year. The measures include a 15 per cent foreign buyers' tax, expansion of rent controls and granting Toronto the ability to impose a tax on vacant homes.
Trudeau said one of the challenges in crafting policies to rein in soaring house prices is a "dearth of data," as was the case in Vancouver a year ago.
Concerns about a possible bubble have mounted in Toronto in recent months. Trudeau declined to say when asked whether he believes a bubble exists.
"My focus is on making sure that for the medium and long term, people in Toronto and across the country can afford their homes and that means working on the supply side, making sure that we're investing in more rental stock, making sure that we're investing in new construction of affordable housing so that the market can adjust itself without either popping or crashing," he said.