Siddall to step down as head of CMHC at year end, not seeking term extension

OTTAWA — Evan Siddall, the outspoken head of Canada's housing agency, will step down from the role at the end of the year when his term ends.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said Tuesday that the Government of Canada will manage the selection process for a new president and CEO that will start in the coming months.

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Siddall was appointed to the five-year post in 2014 by then prime minister Stephen Harper. He agreed in 2018 to an extension of his post, which is set to end December 31.

During his tenure, he focused CMHC on the goal of providing everyone a home they can afford as a essential underpinning of society, while challenging the need for home ownership.

He was vocally critical of policies promoted by Canada's real estate industry. In a letter last May defending tightened mortgage rules, he urged the federal government to "look past the plain self-interest" of organizations like the Canadian Home Builders Association, the Mortgage Professionals Association of Canada and the Ontario Real Estate Association that had called for loosened rules.

Concerned with rising household debt levels and high home prices, he advocated for policies that would lower real estate prices.

"My job is to advise you against this reckless myopia and protect our economy from potentially tragic consequences," he said in the same May letter.

In December, he gave a speech critical of policies that worsen affordability, including government-supported mortgage insurance and capital gains exemptions on principal residences.

In the speech, he also raised concerns about zoning by-laws, development fees, lengthy approvals and other policies that restrict supply to also inflate home prices.

He advocated for increased densification as the key solution to both housing affordability challenges and environmental sustainability.

Before joining CMHC, Siddall served as special adviser to Mark Carney at the Bank of Canada, as well as working stints at Irving Oil, Lazard, Goldman Sachs, and BMO Nesbitt Burns. He is also a co-founding investor of the Side Launch Brewing Co. in Collingwood, Ont.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2020.

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