OSFI's role in housing finance

How our role in housing finance contribute to the stability of the Canadian financial system.

Video duration: 00 hours:02 minutes:48 seconds
Date: December 15, 2022




[Text on screen: Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions]

[Visual: OSFI logo]

Narrator: The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI for short, is responsible for regulating and supervising federally regulated financial institutions like banks, insurance companies, as well as pension plans, to ensure they are financially sound and managing their risks.

This contributes to Canadians' confidence in the financial system.

Residential mortgages help many Canadians become homeowners, and they are also one of the largest exposures that banks and other lenders carry.

That means OSFI's work has an important impact on the housing market!

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, OSFI has expected the lending institutions we regulate to maintain very high underwriting standards for the mortgages they issue.

When granting a mortgage, lenders must take steps to judge whether a borrower can continue to pay their debt over the life of the loan. Otherwise, a borrower could default on their payments and cause financial losses to the lender.

If financial losses are widespread and impact many lenders, this can threaten financial stability in Canada, harming jobs and our economic security.

Our expectations for residential mortgage underwriting standards are set out in Guideline B-20. Essentially this is the guideline that informs lenders about the standards that should apply when approving mortgages.

Guideline B-20 allows financial institutions the flexibility to apply OSFI's principles based on their size, complexity and the nature of their business.

Ultimately, the terms of any mortgage contract will be a decision that is made between the lender and the borrower.

One of the better known elements of B-20 is the Minimum Qualifying Rate, or MQR. This is sometimes referred to as the "stress test".

To know whether a borrower could handle a higher payment in the future — in case of rising interest rates or changes in income — OSFI expects lenders to use a higher interest rate to assess a borrower's ability to repay a mortgage than the rate the borrower will actually pay.

This MQR creates a buffer, or margin of safety, that increases the odds that a borrower will remain financially resilient through the variety of changes that can occur over the life of a loan.

This means that if a borrower faces a loss of income or if there is a sharp rise in interest rates, there is a better chance they can keep up with their mortgage payments.

We know that Canadians trust our financial system to help them build their lives and futures and we are working hard to maintain that trust.

Thanks for watching!

[Visual: OSFI logo]

Narrator: For more information, visit OSFI's website.

[Text on screen: For more information, visit: www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca]

[Visual: Government of Canada logo]