Housing crisis: high hopes for construction, but at what cost?

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Housing crisis: lots of hope on construction, but at what cost?

To return to a real estate market affordable, 1.1 million housing units should be added in Quebec by 2030, according to CMHC.

In its latest study, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recommends doubling the pace of housing construction in the province, but some industry players doubt that this is possible without government assistance.

There has been an affordability problem in the housing market for several years, and the problem has become even greater during the pandemic with very sustained price increases, says the economist at CMHC, Francis Cortellino.

Although the latter concedes that the market is currently experiencing a slowdown, single-family homes and rental units remain unaffordable, according to him.

This is why CMHC is proposing to increase the housing supply across Canada, but particularly in Quebec.

“To return to an affordable market, we would have to add 1.1 million housing units. in Quebec by 2030.”

—Francis Cortellino, CMHC Economist

A challenge that promises to be immense, even unattainable, according to the professor in the finance, insurance and real estate department of Laval University, François Des Rosiers.

1.1 million d housing units to be built by 2030, that's more than 120,000 units to be built per year. This is nearly double the number of units we built in our best years in Quebec, he claims.

François Des Rosiers refers to the historical peaks of sites identified in the province.

It was in 1987 that there were the most housing starts in one year in Quebec, according to the CMHC.

According to CMHC data, the record was set in 1987 when Quebec launched nearly 74,000 housing starts.

The years 1976 and 2021 follow, with nearly 69,000 and 68,000 new constructions respectively. The CMHC estimates are therefore difficult to achieve, according to the professor.

I do not question the CMHC figures in terms of needs, but in terms of capacity. to produce, I have serious doubts, argues François DesRosiers.

Doubts also shared by the director of the School of Trades and Occupations in the Construction Industry of Quebec (ÉMOICQ), Rémi Veilleux.

According to the Association de la construction du Québec, there is currently a shortage of 17,000 construction workers in the province. This is the number 1 issue for our companies, confirms the spokesperson, Guillaume Houle.

In 2019, a study by the firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton claimed that the Capitale-Nationale was the second region most affected by the shortage of construction workers, after Greater Montreal, leading Guillaume Houle to believe that the situation is worse today. x27; today.

This is why the association is asking the provincial and federal governments to open the floodgates to hire foreign workers, because even on the school benches, there are few students .

“I don't have enough students. »

— Rémi Veilleux, Director of ÉMOICQ

The Quebec vocational training center has experienced a significant drop in enrollment in recent years. It offers training for 12 different trades, but only the carpentry and electrical programs are full.

“A few years ago, in bricklaying, I had 66 students. Today, I have less than 15. In tinsmithing, I was not able to start the group this year. Yet, I have a 100% placement rate. I was also forced to close the soft-liner program, where I only had two entries. », admits Rémi Veilleux.

Clearly, I am not at the maximum of my capacity to train. I could easily get 300, 400 more students. There is room, he adds.

Over the past few weeks, Rémi Veilleux has had to deal with construction contractors who came to woo students during of their break around the ÉMOICQ, proof that there is a lack of arms in the industry.

So how do we meet CMHC's objective? According to François Des Rosiers, the government must intervene, as it did from 1974 to 1982.

After the housing crisis of the early 1970s, when the baby boomers arrived in the market, the government uses an MURB [multi-unit residential building] tax credit program that has renewed all rental housing stock in Canada, says the professor.

Prefabricated buildings could save a lot of time on construction sites, according to François Des Rosiers.

The latter admits, however, that the labor shortage will be a major obstacle, despite the tax incentives. He also suggests that Quebec focus more on pre-engineered construction.

This is an approach that is not very developed in North America, but pre-engineered condo towers are done elsewhere in the world. There is room for a lot of development. This would make it possible to respond to the lack of personnel, but also to improve the quality of the buildings, maintains François Des Rosiers.

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