Canada: government & governance – housing 2023
HOUSING AND PARLIAMENTARY ACTION
Parliamentary Research Branch
Although the Constitution grants the provinces authority over housing policy and programs, all levels of government in Canada are involved in housing. The policies and programs that have evolved address the quantity, quality and cost of housing.
Prior to 1970 virtually all housing policy was federal. Government programs assisted a little over one-third of housing starts, fewer than 5% of which were directed toward low-income housing. During the 1970s, federal assistance increased to 40% of housing starts. By 1986, government programs had dropped to 14% of housing completions and 8% of this federal assistance was directed toward low-income Canadians.
Three federal Acts passed in the 1930s were intended to increase housing stocks so as to ease shortages and to promote job creation through stimulating the private housing market. The Dominion Housing Act (1935), the first national housing legislation, provided $20 million in loans that helped to finance 4,900 units over a three-year period. The 1937 Federal Home Improvement Plan subsidized the interest rates on loans for housing rehabilitation to 66,900 homes. The 1938 National Housing Act (NHA) helped to enable the creditworthy to buy houses, make low-income housing sanitary, and modernize existing housing stock. The Act also provided for construction of low-rent housing. (January 1999)
Housing Accelerator Fund
(CMHC) Encouraging initiatives that increase housing supply and promote the development of affordable, inclusive and diverse communities that are low-carbon and climate-resilient.
The Housing Accelerator Fund provides incentive funding to local governments encouraging initiatives aimed at increasing housing supply. It also supports the development of complete, low-carbon and climate-resilient communities that are affordable, inclusive, equitable and diverse.
Feds unlock another $20 billion for low-cost rental construction financing: Freeland
(CTV) The federal government is unlocking another $20 billion in low-cost financing for the construction of rental housing across Canada, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Tuesday.
The Canada Mortgage Bonds program, which raises funds for residential mortgage financing, had an annual limit of $40 billion.
The limit is being increased to $60 billion, with the additional funds aimed at increasing rental construction specifically. This includes apartment buildings, student housing and senior residences.
Canada’s housing crisis: Growing concern about immigration levels (YouTube)
CTV News’ Michael Stittle and Nanos Research’s Nik Nanos look at new numbers on how Canada’s housing crisis could be having an impact over the support that Canadians have for immigration – what does that mean for the federal government?
A crisis in commercial real estate, a crisis in housing: two problems, one solution
David Clement, North American affairs manager with the Consumer Choice Center.
(Globe & Mail) At present, hundreds of zoning restrictions prevent firms from converting commercial offices into mixed-use facilities or residential units, despite the urgent demand for such spaces. Unzoning, or rezoning, these swaths of commercial space could be one way local governments help the industry survive. Cities could also grant tax breaks to offset the costs of conversion, which can be high owing to inherent technical challenges.
Relaxing zoning for most of these commercial spaces would also significantly benefit the housing market, as mixed-use or residential units would increase the housing stock. Given that housing is the top political issue of the day, it’s time to give this some serious consideration.
Ford apologizes for ‘wrong’ Greenbelt decision, vows to reverse land swap
The Ontario government is changing course and reversing a contentious land swap for the province’s protected Greenbelt, following weeks of pressure and two ministers’ resignations.
“I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that I’m very, very sorry,” Ford said.
“It was a mistake to open the Greenbelt. It was a mistake to establish a process that moved too fast. This process, it left too much room for some people to benefit over others. It caused people to question our motives. As a first step to earn back your trust, I’ll be reversing the changes we made and won’t make any changes to the Greenbelt in the future.”
Freeland introduces bill to remove GST from rental developments, amend competition law
Liberals say measures will help to address housing crisis
Experts have called on the federal government to remove GST charges from new purpose-built rentals to help spur construction of these homes.
According to the Finance Department, the measure will provide $25,000 in tax relief for a two-bedroom apartment valued at $500,000.
New projects that began construction between Sept. 14 and the end of 2030 are eligible for the full rebate.
These projects must finish construction by the end of 2035.
The bill is also supposed to strengthen the Competition Bureau — part of the federal government’s efforts to address high prices driven by a lack of competition. … The legislation would give the bureau the power to compel information from companies to conduct market studies and block collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice. It would also eliminate the “efficiencies defence,” which has been used to approve anti-competitive mergers in cases where the efficiencies generated offset the competitive harm.
With the housing crisis, Canada’s big and influential firms are bleeding talent
(Globe & Mail) Over the past several years, there have been rumblings about high-paying and prestigious professional firms struggling to retain their highly paid and prestigious young employees. Apparently, banks and investment firms are leaking juniors. Associates at Bay Street law firms, meanwhile, are opting for less gruelling work in alternate career paths.
A number of explanations have been thrown around for this phenomenon, from market changes – such as the expansion of in-house jobs or the rising tech sector – to attitudinal ones, such as the sudden prioritization of something called “work-life balance.”
But none of these reasons explains this trend as well as Canada’s housing crisis. Simply put, the expensive price of a home is resulting in talent attrition at some of the biggest and most influential firms in the country. Sooner or later we will see the impact of this on the economy.
John Ibbitson: There is only so much Ottawa can do about Canada’s housing crisis
There is a simple solution to the housing crisis: Voters in municipalities across Canada could elect mayors and councils dedicated to stripping away zoning restrictions, while simplifying and lowering the costs of permissions and permits.
Unfortunately, voters in municipal elections tend to be homeowners who benefit from escalating prices and who want to preserve their neighbourhoods. Councils reflect their will.
This may be why federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is violating a core principle of his party: that it does not interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Only Liberals do that.
Mr. Poilievre has abandoned that principle, as he says that, if he were prime minister, he would threaten mayors and councils with financial penalties unless they loosened zoning restrictions. Municipalities are, as the saying goes, creatures of the provinces. Mr. Poilievre wants to make them creatures of Ottawa.
Trudeau says he ‘should have, could have’ moved faster on housing
Trudeau announced new measures last week aimed at countering rising housing prices — and at fending off claims that his government has been missing in action on the issue.
The measures include removing the GST from the construction of new rental apartments to spur new development.
The federal government is also requiring that municipalities repeal or amend exclusionary zoning policies in order to access the government’s Housing Accelerator Fund.
Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser has sent letters to municipalities — including one to the mayor of Calgary — threatening to withhold funds if they don’t tweak their zoning policies. … Calgary City Council voted Saturday to approve a new housing strategy that will introduce blanket rezoning of residential districts to allow for more housing types.
Dispatch from the Front Line
The Liberals have announced that they will be dropping the GST from the building costs of purpose-built rental developments. This seems like a good idea to us… overdue, in fact. Purpose-built rentals have long had lower rates of return, making them a less attractive economic investment for those with capital to spend on new construction. Dropping the GST, with provinces also pledging to drop provincial sales taxes, can help incentivize more of this construction by closing that gap. This won’t result in prices dropping in any time soon, but anything that gets more housing built is welcome. The government has also said it will be linking federal funding for municipal projects to construction of houses in those communities. Again, this is a good idea, and we thought so when the Conservatives first announced it a while ago.
We suspect that municipalities will try to get cute on this. Don’t be shocked to see them approving projects in theory, pocketing federal cash, and then finding all kinds of interesting regulatory ways to slow it down. The offer of some federal cash alone will not slay the NIMBY dragons that actually rule this country’s cities. But again, as far as it goes, it seems like a good plan. We hope that the feds are absolutely ruthless about tying the money to delivered units, not approved proposals, or even vaguer metrics like rezoning. Time will tell.
And time is exactly what concerns our final point. In the last few weeks, the Liberals realized that they are in deep trouble on this file. They are late, as always, but they’re getting there. We suspect, though, that they will soon be victims of that other problem in Canadian governance: our glacial speed of policy implementation and execution. Liberal partisans have taken to reminding us all that the next election is still probably two years away. We would be shocked to see much progress, if any, in that time period. Even if the Liberals got every last part of the housing file right starting tomorrow, the Canadian ship of state simply does not turn that quickly.
Canada’s housing crisis will take years to solve, finance minister says
(Reuters) – An affordable housing crisis that is hurting the Canadian government’s popularity will take years to resolve, even if construction hits an 80-year high, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.
Her comments were among the first by a senior member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal administration to acknowledge the scale of the challenge. Polls show the Liberals trailing their Conservative rivals, who blame Ottawa for high inflation and soaring home prices.
Andrew Coyne: Home truths about Canada’s housing mess
A few points, therefore, to bear in mind as we suffer through the next couple of years:
This is a global phenomenon. Prices are higher in Canada than in many other countries, especially relative to incomes – but housing prices are soaring across the developed world. And for similar reasons: loose monetary policy, subsidized mortgages, restrictive municipal zoning laws, population movements. Everybody’s grappling with this.
It’s been decades in the making. It’s been clear for many years that Canada has a structural imbalance in its housing market, though perhaps the causes are clearer in hindsight. Much effort was expended in recent years blaming high home prices on foreign speculators and absentee landlords. So, boom, governments brought in new taxes on foreign buyers and empty homes. Nothing much changed.
Then it was all about low interest rates. So the Bank of Canada brought in 10 straight increases in its policy rate, driving mortgage rates to 6 or even 7 per cent. That knocked prices a bit lower, for a time, but they are already showing signs of reviving.
It’s a shortage of houses, not a surplus of people. Now everyone’s convinced the problem is high immigration. No doubt there’s some truth in this, in specific markets – the extraordinary, seemingly unanticipated surge in the number of foreign students enrolling in Canadian universities and colleges has overwhelmed the supply of student housing. Maybe a pause there would help.
But we had higher immigration rates in the past without igniting a housing crisis. And prices were already at stratospheric levels long before the immigration surge of the past two years. I don’t disagree that made things worse, but it’s the long-term decline in the supply of new housing that has set us up for this.
It won’t be solved by government housing programs. …
Un logement supervisé plutôt qu’un refuge, c’est ce qui a permis à une ancienne sans-abri de sortir de la rue. Au moment où l’itinérance gagne du terrain dans de nombreuses villes, les maires estiment de plus que Québec doit délier les cordons de sa bourse.
Trudeau announces new measures to deal with housing, grocery prices
New initiatives come as Liberals conclude caucus meeting in London, Ont.
‘Housing is a solvable problem,’ Trudeau says, unveiling first funding under program pledged years ago
Trudeau announces $74M to help London, Ont., build 2,000 new homes
Agreement with London is first in Canada under Housing Accelerator Fund
(CTV) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the “first of many” municipal agreements under the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund on Wednesday, a small-scale step that the Liberals are framing as an example of how they plan to tackle the issue that’s become so pressing for many Canadians.
The $74-million deal with London, Ont. will fast-track the creation of more than 2,000 housing units over the next three years, and build thousands more in the years following. The Liberals say it is part of a promised multi-pronged housing strategy to be illuminated in the months ahead.
These housing units will include high-density development without the need for re-zoning, and clear the way for more development of duplexes, triplexes, and small apartment buildings close to public transit on city land, according to the government.
Trudeau unveils housing funds for London, offers no details on broader plan
Justin Trudeau, facing immense pressure to address the housing affordability crisis across the country, announced targeted local funding under a previous program to speed up construction, but did not provide any details about broader measures.
Feds unveil first deal for new housing accelerator fund in London
First deal signed for housing accelerator fund
(The Star) The federal government is trying to channel the anger it’s facing over the lack of affordable housing into a challenge for municipalities.
Federal housing minister pledges unprecedented housing measures as Trudeau meets Liberal caucus
Changing ‘the financial equation’ for builders among measures to be unveiled, says minister
Canada needs 3.45 million more homes by 2030 to cut housing costs as population grows, CMHC predicts
(Globe & Mail) Canada needs an additional 3.45 million homes by the end of the decade to bring housing costs down as the population increases, according to a new report from the federal housing agency.
This is the second report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. that quantifies the number of new homes the country needs to build to ensure that households are not spending more than 40 per cent of their disposable income on shelter.
This year’s forecast is slightly lower than 2022′s prediction that an additional 3.5 million home are needed after CMHC cut the number needed in Ontario to take into account fewer households expected in the country’s most populated province. At the same time, the agency said the supply gap has widened in B.C. and Quebec over its previous outlook due to weaker supply in the western province and an increase in the number of households in the latter.
Rising Insurance Rates Are Crushing Affordable Housing Developers
Natural disasters and crime are being blamed for property insurance hikes that are frustrating builders of much-needed new apartment buildings.
(Bloomberg) Developers of apartment buildings across the US are raising alarms as property insurance rates continue to rise, a trend that threatens to seal off the pipeline for much-needed housing construction — especially new apartments with affordable units.
Premiums and deductibles for policies required by mortgage lenders have shot up two- to three-fold over the last five years, frustrated developers say. Increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters are fueling these changes across the industry. Multifamily housing developers in California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas in particular — but not exclusively — are seeing triple-digit increases in costs as insurance providers adjust to extreme weather connected to global climate change, according to industry leaders.
Student housing crisis: Municipal bylaws have created roadblocks for decades
Researchers examined 15 Ontario municipalities with a major university campus, and found only one (Waterloo) had adopted plans designed to accommodate student housing near the campus
Alexander Wray, PhD Candidate in Geography, Western University and Nick Revington, Professeur de logement et dynamiques urbaines, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)
(The Conversation) University and college students have become a flashpoint in Canada’s national housing crisis.
The federal government is considering a limit on international study permits, something opposed by Universities Canada and scholars and advocates concerned about scapegoating international students for the housing shortage. …
Students in Canada and their communities urgently need solutions. Amid finger-pointing at the federal government, individual institutions and the provinces, which fund higher education and set development standards, municipal governments have been largely absent from the discussion.
Yet municipal planning has been hostile to student housing for decades. When this history is coupled with abysmal levels of on-campus housing construction since the 1990s and a doubling of enrolments since 2000, the current crisis seems inevitable.
The (possibly fatal) flaw in Doug Ford’s Greenbelt plan
(Globe & Mail editorial board) Ontario Premier Doug Ford repeated his tired mantra about building more homes last week, after the province’s Integrity Commissioner ruled that the Housing Minister, Steve Clark, had allowed “the private interests of certain developers” in the Greenbelt to be “furthered improperly.”
“When we have a housing crisis, I have two options,” Mr. Ford said. “I sit back … and let the whole province fall apart, or we move forward and we build homes.”
That was the same lame justification he used three weeks earlier, after the Ontario Auditor-General similarly ruled that his government’s “flawed” process for removing sites from the Greenbelt was “biased” and led to “certain prominent developers receiving preferential treatment.”
The Auditor-General also noted in her report that the Ford government’s own housing affordability task force had found in 2022 that there was no need to build in the Greenbelt, because “a shortage of land isn’t the cause” of the crisis. …
There is no obligation on the developers to actually build 50,000 homes in the Greenbelt. They will only build more if the infrastructure is affordable and if the housing market is profitable, and Mr. Ford will have little means of persuading them to keep going after 2025.
Ontario may or may not see 50,000 homes built on precious farmland and wetlands by 2032. Mr. Ford may or may not survive the scandal’s hit to his government’s credibility.
But the major developers that will be free to develop their Greenbelt holdings at their leisure after 2025? They’ll be fine forever.
Randall Denley: Doug Ford deflects Greenbelt conspiracy theories
After housing minister resigns, province brings in development plan it should have from the start
(National Post) …Ford is clearly not backing down on future Greenbelt development. In his view, “nothing is more important than building homes.” To meet the demands of a rapidly growing population, the Greenbelt has to be considered, the premier suggested. His own housing affordability task force didn’t realize the full magnitude of population growth when they made their report, he says.
That’s a fair point. Even the province’s highly ambitious plan to build 1.5 million homes in 10 years won’t be enough to meet need when the province’s population is growing by 500,000 people a year. Ontario also has a substantial existing housing shortage. It would require about 650,000 additional homes to move the province to the national average of homes per capita.
One might reasonably ask why the government didn’t take this rational approach to Greenbelt development in the first place. It would have made its land choices much more defensible.
The federal government used to build social housing. Then it stopped. How is that going?
Consecutive federal governments in the 1980s and 90s pulled back on funding new affordable housing
(CBC The Sunday Magazine) Canada had long provided subsidized housing for people who couldn’t afford to pay market value: for workers and returning veterans after the Second World War, for example, and in the 1970s and early 80s as pressure mounted for Ottawa to intervene during a series of recessions.
In the early to mid-1990s, back-to-back governments of different political stripes — first the Conservative government under Brian Mulroney and then Jean Chretien’s Liberals — began pulling back from the business of affordable housing.
Facing big deficits and with neoliberalism taking hold globally, Ottawa reduced spending on housing, cut the federal co-operative housing program (one that saw the construction of nearly 60,000 homes) and eventually pulled the plug on building any new affordable housing units altogether.
Analysis: Housing might not be Trudeau’s sole responsibility, but it’s his problem
We now have a 30 year deficit in non-market housing, said Andy Yan, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University.
Canada’s housing crisis has been the Liberal government’s priority at this week’s cabinet retreat in Charlottetown, P.E.l., with the country’s housing minister, Sean Fraser, even suggesting the the federal government is considering a cap on the number of international students to ease the pressure on the housing market.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), Canada needs to build 5.8 million new homes — including two million rental units — by 2030 to tackle housing affordability.
Municipalities left to manage housing file
It’s not just the federal government that’s passed the buck on affordable housing. Over a number of years in the late 90s and early 2000s, the Conservative government in Ontario, under Mike Harris, passed the file to municipalities to manage.
Experts say they’ve given Trudeau’s cabinet a strategy to tackle the housing crisis
The authors of a recent report that pitched the federal government a way to restore affordability to Canada’s housing market say they’re optimistic their recommendations could soon become Liberal policy after addressing Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and his cabinet in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
…a recent report on how the federal government can address the shortage of units in housing markets, titled A Multi-Sector Approach to Ending Canada’s Rental Housing Crisis, was written by a coalition of housing experts, advocates and industry representatives. … One of the report’s key recommendations calls on the federal government to take on a leadership role and co-ordinate with provinces, territories and municipalities to ensure that more rental units are built.
The politics of housing now defines both Trudeau and Poilievre
(CBC) There are, despite appearances, a few crucial points on which the prime minister and the leader of the Official Opposition agree. They both agree, for instance, that the cost of housing is a pressing problem that demands action — a level of agreement that does not exist for climate change.
They both agree that at least part of the solution involves other levels of government. They both agree that federal funding can play a meaningful role in creating change.
… Poilievre says he would have the federal government unload 6,000 buildings. The federal government already has a program to sell surplus properties for affordable housing — the Federal Lands Initiative — which was launched in 2019 with the stated goal of making available “4,000 suitable properties.” At least some buildings have been put up for sale, but a parliamentary committee report last year suggested the program could be improved.
Housing Instability Spiked During the Pandemic. Homelessness Didn’t.
(Bloomberg CityLab) New federal data on the most vulnerable renters in the US show how relief efforts held off a wave of evictions as Covid raged. But the housing affordability crisis remains.
Despite a record spike in the number of renters most vulnerable to displacement at the height of the pandemic, the “eviction tsunami” that US housing advocates feared never came. Instead, homelessness — measured by the number of people entering shelters — declined between 2019 and 2021, according to a new report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Developers Forecast Major Affordable Housing Drought in 2025
High prices and rising interest rates are leading to financing gaps and delays that could trigger a crash in the supply of new affordable housing.
(Bloomberg CityLab)…the pace of new construction looks to change dramatically over the next two years — especially for affordable housing. Developers see a massive shortage ahead, which threatens to undo the recent progress in closing the daunting affordable housing gap in many US cities.
Trudeau defends himself against internal and external criticism, but announces no new housing measures
While Trudeau said his government will “need to ensure more housing is built,” he and his cabinet are leaving the Island without committing to any new initiatives.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended himself Wednesday against external and internal criticism of his approach to Canada’s housing crunch after wrapping a three-day cabinet retreat without any new housing policy to announce.
“I think Canadians are really worried and looking at blaming anyone they can for it, and that’s totally natural and totally right,” Trudeau said during the final day of a cabinet retreat on Prince Edward Island.
“The question Canadians are also asking is, are we going to be able to fix it? Are we going to be able to get through this as a country? My answer is, absolutely.”
Trudeau acknowledged grumbling coming from inside his caucus from MPs unhappy with the party’s positions on certain issues. According to recent media reports, some Liberal MPs worry that voters have grown tired of Trudeau and believe their government is out of touch with Canadians’ concerns about the cost of living.
One-on-one with Canada’s housing minister: Lack of affordability a ‘crisis’ and an ‘opportunity’
(CTV) “The exact nature of how a national crisis impacts you varies immensely between different people in different life situations; but, I don’t think it does any good for somebody in my position who wants to play a leadership role in solving these challenges to ignore the magnitude of it.” …
Housing affordability is a multi-jurisdictional issue but Fraser and his cabinet colleagues heard from experts during this retreat who told them that shouldn’t stop the feds from employing a top-down strategy.
Professor Mike Moffatt, an economist and founding director of the PLACE Centre at the Smart Prosperity Institute, is one of those experts.
“There are all kinds of things within federal jurisdiction that they could do today that could get new homes built tomorrow,” Moffatt said in an interview just before presenting to cabinet ministers.
According to Moffatt, that includes tax tweaks to make housing construction more viable, clearing up the apartment application backlog at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, getting involved in long-term, low-interest financing for purpose-built rental projects and more incentives for municipalities to speed construction up and reduce red tape.
Time is not on anyone’s side, though. The CMHC estimates Canada needs nearly six million new homes by 2030, which would require a tripling of the current rate of home building.
Liberal cabinet set to hear from housing experts at P.E.I. retreat
(Global) Two housing experts who helped co-author a recent report on the federal government’s role in solving the housing crisis are set to present their findings to the cabinet later on Tuesday.
The report delivered a week ago warns that “Canada’s housing crisis is worsening dramatically” in large part because of an “extreme” lack of accessible and affordable rentals.
The authors say a new industrial housing strategy is required that brings together governments, private sector and non-profit agencies to address a shortage of housing overall, and a shortage of affordable housing in particular.
Trudeau says affordability crisis is top priority at P.E.I cabinet retreat
The federal cabinet on Tuesday is expected to discuss whether to revisit the existing national housing strategy and possibly hold a national housing summit with other levels of government and the private sector in a bid to solve the growing housing crisis across the country.
The discussions underway at the cabinet retreat in Charlottetown come as the Liberals look ahead to the fall sitting of Parliament where they plan to make housing the central focus of their efforts.
Nunavik housing shortage – The far-reaching impacts on education
Housing for school board staff in the community of Quaqtaq. Nunavik is still missing some 160 units for its personnel, something that has knock-on effects on everything from teacher recruitment and retention, to the programs that are offered to students.
Housing minister says federal government should have stayed in housing game
(CTV) Housing Minister Sean Fraser says the federal government should have never got out of the housing business even as high-income professionals are struggling to find affordable housing.
“For the better part of the last half century, federal governments of different partisan stripes, by the way, liberal and conservatives, have stepped away from forwarding affordable housing in this country,” he said. “That should never have happened, but it did.”
Fraser said now much of the country is dealing with a housing crunch that has no easy fixes.
Long way home: Blamed for affordability crisis, Liberals look to pivot on housing
For the federal Liberals, the growing discontent with the state of the housing market is becoming a political threat. … Experts say the housing crisis poses a great risk to the incumbent government in the next election if it doesn’t take drastic action soon.
“This has become probably the most important both economic and political problem facing the country right now,” said Tyler Meredith, a former head of economic strategy and planning for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“And especially given the significant emphasis the government has put on immigration and the relationship between immigration and the housing market, there is a need to do more.”
How the feds could push cities to build more homes — with a carrot or stick
From local zoning to community consultations, there are plenty of ways cities are hitting the brakes on residential construction, even as Canada faces a significant housing shortage.
According to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, average municipal approval timelines for housing projects in 2022 spanned from three months to nearly three years, depending on the city.
That’s why encouraging municipalities to build more homes, more quickly, is becoming a major focus of federal housing policy, as well as the politics around it.
Housing experts, advocates, industry have unified message for government: Get more rentals built
Report calls on all levels of government to work collaboratively to address a lack in rental units in Canada
(CBC) This is from a new report titled A Multi-Sector Approach to Ending Canada’s Rental Housing Crisis, co-authored by Mike Moffatt, founding director of the PLACE Centre at the Smart Prosperity Institute, Tim Richter, president & CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, and Michael Brooks, head of REALPAC, a group that represents 130 real estate firms.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), Canada needs to build 5.8 million new homes — including two million rental units — by 2030 in order to tackle housing affordability.
Aaron Wherry: Housing might not be Trudeau’s sole responsibility, but it’s his problem
The Liberals can’t afford to ignore concerns about real estate prices
Justin Trudeau’s recent observation that housing isn’t a “primary federal responsibility” was something of a Kinsley gaffe — the act of inadvertently telling the truth or inconveniently confessing some private thought. … [However] the case that federal policy does have a significant and, in many cases, direct impact on the affordability of housing in Canada. And Trudeau’s Liberals have, since 2015, embraced the idea that the federal government can play a meaningful and constructive role in expanding access to housing (the word “housing” appeared 29 times in the Liberal party’s 2015 platform). In 2017, the government announced a national housing strategy that now includes $82-billion in federal spending and commitments.
The prime minister was not wholly wrong, per se, when he said housing was not something the federal government has “direct carriage of.” Housing is not like national defence or foreign policy or international trade — areas of policy for which the federal government has sole responsibility. It’s a matter of shared jurisdiction and many of the policy levers and regulations exist at the provincial and municipal level.
Gary Mason: The part of our housing conundrum politicians don’t want to talk about
One thing few people talk about is the costs various levels of government impose on the construction of new housing that are helping, in part, to create the ridiculous prices we see in almost every part of the country, but particularly in centres such as Toronto and Vancouver.
Some of these fees and taxes have always been there, but more have been added in recent years. And in an inflationary environment where the cost of everything has gone up, including labour and materials, you end up with 800-square-foot condos that cost more than $1-million.
The Urban Development Institute in Vancouver recently updated a report it did in 2018 that looked at the various taxes and fees developers must accept if they want to build housing in B.C. It’s an eye-opener.
In one example, the institute looked at the costs of an 800-square-foot condo in Vancouver in 2023 and what contributed to the unit’s staggering average price of $1.12-million. … The subtotal for fees per unit is $290,422 just to build, and upon sale, the total climbs to $327,565.53 – or 29.25 per cent of the imagined condo’s cost. … Many of these same levies apply to developers trying to build purpose-built rentals, which are also in high demand. Yes, there are some rebates available for this type of housing, but the tax demands on builders and landlords are still extremely high, which is why rental prices are also outrageous.
Jen Gerson: Without genuine political courage, we’ll get more of the same on housing
Amid Canada’s housing crisis, immigration needs to be slower, more focused
Canada must cherish immigrants, helping them settle as much as possible – but we need some breathing space to be able to do so properly.
(Globe & Mail) In the short term, the housing crisis cannot be solved – it can only be mitigated. Building new housing takes time. In the meantime, reducing immigration temporarily to prepandemic levels would help. Those levels would still provide ample room for home construction workers if necessary, as well as other high-skilled workers in strategic areas.
Dear Justin Trudeau, housing is absolutely your responsibility.
By Cathy Crowe
Canadians are tired of your government’s finger-pointing. Housing is the most fundamental building block of peoples’ health and the nation’s future.
(rabble.ca) Housing is the most fundamental building block of health, of a successful future for a household, the community, and the nation. You could never get away with saying that Medicare or pensions or unemployment insurance are not your responsibility.
Are the following not federal responsibilities related to housing: the Bank of Canada’s interest rates, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) mortgage insurance fund, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ (OSFI) mortgage lending regulations, and national economic policy via the Finance Department and your annual budgets?
We know the impact of the climate crisis – including wildfire smoke, extreme heat and catastrophic flooding – is felt most among poorly housed people and the homeless. It is further dehousing people through flood damage.
… Canada’s national housing program was cancelled in the early 1990s by then-Liberal Minister of Finance Paul Martin and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Various housing ministers, both Conservative and Liberal, have only continued to insufficiently invest in social housing.
I acknowledge that you created a National Housing Strategy in 2017. I celebrated it at the time. However, it is now widely considered tragically inadequate, as the National Housing Council report noted this year.
Housing is a direct federal responsibility, contrary to what Trudeau said. Here’s how his government can do better.
Carolyn Whitzman, Housing Policy Researcher, Expert Advisor, Housing Assessment Resource Tools and Adjunct Professor, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa ; Alexandra Flynn, Associate Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
(The Conversation) While the word “housing” isn’t mentioned in the 1867 Constitution Act or 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a federal, provincial or municipal responsibility, the rights to “life, liberty and security of the person” as well as “equal protection” in the Charter can’t be achieved without adequate housing.
The right to housing — which Canada has promised to enforce in numerous international covenants — was enshrined in Canadian law by the current government in 2019.
Justin Trudeau needs to make housing a primary federal responsibility
(G&M editorial board) For two decades, from the mid-1990s to the mid-2010s, through Liberal and Conservative governments, Ottawa was largely absent from housing.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015 promised to change that, with major federal investments in affordable rental housing. As of March, Ottawa had committed more than $30-billion (much of it low-cost loans for rental housing), and the result is 107,519 new homes.
It is at once a success and failure. It’s more than Ottawa has done in a long time – and it’s far, far too little. The Trudeau government has been overtaken by events: an out-of-control housing market where the cost to buy or rent is extreme.
The situation has brewed for decades, and the blame can be pinned on city councils whose restrictive zoning laws keep the supply of housing well below demand. But Mr. Trudeau has yet to fully realize how bad things are.
On Monday, he trotted out the tiniest news: 214 homes in Hamilton. The fact that Ottawa thought such a minor announcement was worthy of a press conference with the Prime Minister shows a poor grasp of reality.
Cities and Provinces Urged to Take Action on Housing Crisis: Trudeau
(Energy portal.eu) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized the need for cities and provinces to take action in addressing the housing crisis in Canada. Speaking in Hamilton, Ontario, Trudeau highlighted that while housing is not primarily the responsibility of the federal government, Ottawa must play a role in finding solutions.
Not enough places to live, Trudeau says of the housing market, as he pledges support to scale supply
(Globe & Mail) Political insiders expect Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals to spend the rest of the summer focused on affordability issues, and housing in particular, as Canadians struggle with high inflation, especially the rising cost of groceries, and global uncertainty.
Trudeau’s shuffle puts new faces in charge of housing crisis and future of Canadian media
by Karl Nerenberg
While pundits focus on polls, Trudeau’s new cabinet has some serious policy challenges it must face.
Political geography aside, there are two ministers with new portfolios we should all watch carefully.
They are: Nova Scotian Sean Fraser, who moves from Immigration to Housing, Infrastructure and Communities….
The Liberals …know there are legions of Canadian families who will soon face big mortgage increases – if they are not already facing them – and legions of others who cannot pay their rent.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reports regularly on the affordability of rental accommodation in Canada. It issued its latest report (Can’t afford the rent – Rental wages in Canada 2022) about a month ago and the news is all bad. Almost everywhere in Canada, with the exception of three cities in Quebec, basic rental units are out of reach for Canadians earning minimum wage.
The housing crisis won’t improve until all levels of governments tackle it head on
Robin Wiebe, senior economist and Ted Mallett, director of economic forecasting, The Conference Board of Canada
(Globe & Mail Opinion) …skyrocketing housing prices are threatening an entire generation’s housing aspirations, and governments at all levels need to be much more innovative in efforts to bring down housing costs. … Housing supply measures were not at the top of government priority lists in the past and the results speak for themselves.
… New housing supply, faster regulatory approval times and reduced red tape, combined with increased densification and the addition of greenfield land, are all levers that need to be deployed to ramp up supply to have even a hope of keeping pace with demand.
As it stands, urban planners, housing bureaucrats and some politicians often exhibit anti-suburban sentiment. This camp has long promoted higher density as the optimal housing solution. They like its use of existing municipal services, its promotion of environmentally friendly walking and transit use and its low cost per new unit compared to greenfield development. This may put them on a direct collision course with what consumers really want – the Canadian dream of a single detached home with a garage and a backyard in a leafy suburb.
Mitch Heimpel: The Liberals are planning to lose a housing election
… For the foreseeable future, housing is the government’s largest intergovernmental affairs issue.
(The Line) Yes, the provinces will continue to ask for more money for other things — including health care. But even the Premiers see infrastructure as the biggest emerging need on their horizon.
You need one minister. One minister responsible for housing, infrastructure and intergovernmental affairs. One person whose job it is to deal with the provinces and municipalities on their infrastructure and housing needs. One person whose job it is to coordinate the government’s overall policy response. One political face that is accountable when federal housing programs spend a lot of money to achieve even the most modest of housing targets. If the government is serious about its immigration policy, it has to be serious about its housing policy, and right now the federal government is set up to continually fail unless it starts imposing some organization on a policy file it clearly has trouble grasping. Put another way, this would be a good time to show that “deliverology” is something more than money making for management consultants or The Line’s favourite punchline.
New indicators raise more concerns on housing affordability and supply
The results of CMHC’s Rental Housing Survey are always highly anticipated, as they provide a comprehensive view of current conditions of this critical segment of the housing market.
In addition to providing this view, the 2022 edition opens our eyes to new perspectives.
Methodological improvements provide a more accurate view of the issues facing the future of housing in Canada: access to affordable housing and supply in the years to come.
Lower house prices and less supply projected for 2023
(CMHC) We project housing starts to decrease in 2023 and remain well below recent levels. Homeownership is becoming increasingly unaffordable as mortgage rates rise and supply remains tight. The rental market will become more competitive, putting significant upward pressure on rents because there are fewer options available.
Renewing Canada’s National Housing Strategy
A comprehensive report on improving Canada’s affordable housing challenge
(/CNW/) The National Housing Council has submitted a report to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion with recommendations on improving the National Housing Strategy.
The report entitled Renewing Canada’s National Housing Strategy is a comprehensive review of the federal government’s national housing strategy, and Canada’s progress toward achieving its goals. The report was developed following series of research activities, analysis, and stakeholder engagements. It recommends changes to the strategy to address the growing housing challenges faced by low-income households and Canadians facing deepest housing need.
The National Housing Council’s report concludes that:
Many low- and moderate-income families in Canada struggle to access affordable, safe, suitable, and adequate housing.
Canada is losing affordable housing faster and in greater quantities than the National Housing Strategy programs are producing it. According to recent estimates, between 2011 and 2021 over 550 000 units of housing that offered rents for $750/month or less has been lost. The National Housing Strategy as originally designed only had a target to produce 150 000+ new units.
30 years of federal absence from direct housing investments has significantly impacted the creation and maintenance of non-market housing in Canada. The National Housing Strategy programs remain focused on market housing and do not meaningfully improve affordable housing supply in Canada.
Current NHS program design has had limited impact on adequately responding to those in greatest need of access to affordable housing and more specifically to priority groups identified in the strategy. Overall, the units produced so far do little to reduce the number of households in core housing need or facing homelessness. The current programs often exclude those who are meant to be supported by the Strategy.
Misaligned or uncoordinated jurisdictional responses reduces effectiveness and impact and add complexity for housing providers serving the most vulnerable.
The National Housing Strategy provided a starting point for government leadership and actions on affordable housing challenges in Canada. Since the Strategy was publicly released in 2017, housing issues in Canada have continued to deteriorate and it will be increasingly challenging for Canada’s most vulnerable to access adequate and affordable housing that meets their needs. Compounding and rapidly changing global and national trends have magnified these challenges for those facing economic hardship. Renewing the Strategy with the recommendations we offer will create concrete, measurable improvements in housing and in the lives of Canadians.
Getting our houses in order: How a lack of intergovernmental policy coordination undermines housing affordability in Canada
This commentary highlights some of the consequences of the mismatch between housing demand and supply, and offers some solutions
(Macdonald Laurier) Housing affordability in Canada continues to deteriorate. This has been driven in part by a growing gap between housing construction and population growth. This gap is in part driven by a lack of inter-governmental coordination. In particular, the federal government sets immigration levels without much thought to housing policy, while municipal and provincial governments set housing policy without sufficiently accounting for population growth.
This report has proposed a number of potential policy options. In broad terms, Canada needs a better alignment of federal, provincial, and municipal policies related to housing.