The head of the crown corporation says the decades-old name puts too much emphasis on financing homeownership and doesn’t do enough to emphasize housing affordability.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Evan Siddall said changing the name would be better in keeping with the company’s present – and its future.
The Liberal government has made the agency a key supervisor of the national housing strategy, involving tens of billions of dollars in federal, provincial and private funding and funding.
Federal legislation is needed for an official name change, but Siddall says that doesn’t stop the organization from using a business name.
A new name such as “Housing Canada” will be the subject of consultations with the Agency’s 2,000 employees.
“I wouldn’t blame other people for the way they see us because the only people in control of that are us,” Siddall said Thursday.
He said that the word “mortgage” in the current name indicates that CMHC is a financial institution, which is partly true. But it neglects its goal of helping people afford housing, whether through purchase, rental or a social housing program.
“We looked at this question of what our brand is, if we could use something different even without legislative change,” he said.
“These are all things that we’ve looked at that I actually think we should be doing and we’ve talked about it quite openly in the company.
Last year, CMHC set itself an ambitious goal of providing all Canadians with the housing they can afford and meet their needs by 2030.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic hurdle on the road to affordability.
CMHC said last week that about $ 1 billion in mortgage payments were deferred each month during the pandemic. The agency’s annual residential mortgage industry report also shows that fewer Canadians are likely to make mortgage payments this year, compared to 2019.
Siddall said the pandemic has dramatically changed the way governments view housing among other parts of the economy.
“People always talk about the current moment as an inflection point,” he said.
“There is a time now that policymakers are reflecting on and we’ll see what happens in the weeks and months to come, but it’s definitely a time like this.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 17, 2020.