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Ottawa launches another incentive for housing construction

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir Provinces wishing to touch the spoils will have to propose measures to build more housing.

Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

2:23 p.m.

  • Canada

Another day, another announcement on housing, another federal interference in provincial areas of jurisdiction. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday the launch of the Build in Canada program, which will distribute funds to provinces that meet a series of conditions.

The new initiative will draw funding from another $55 billion program dedicated to apartment construction, the federal government said.

Provinces that want to touch the spoils will have to come up with measures to build more housing and meet the requirements of a B.C. initiative. These requirements “include” provinces making their own investments in housing, building housing on government, non-profit, community and vacant land, and streamlining processes so that deadlines approval period does not exceed 18 months.

They will also have to meet all the criteria of the Apartment Construction Loan Program which allocates the funds, including those regarding affordability, accessibility and energy efficiency. In this regard, Mr. Trudeau also indicated that Ottawa intends to add $15 billion to the program, which should make it possible to build “at least 30,000 new apartments” thanks to loans at advantageous interest rates. The tax measure should be included in the 2024 budget, which is expected to be submitted in almost two weeks.

According to Ottawa's assessment, each unit will come out of the ground at an average cost of $500,000. “We want to ensure that the provinces are going to be at the table, that the municipalities are going to be at the table,” insisted Soraya Martinez Ferrada, federal Minister of Tourism and minister responsible for Canada Economic Development for Quebec regions. “The cost and financial package cannot be borne solely by the federal government, it is impossible. »

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Ottawa sets housing affordability based on the median rent price in a given region. For a two-bedroom apartment, this threshold varied in Quebec in 2023 between $1,400 per month, in Gatineau, and $750 per month in more remote locations, according to data from the Société d'habitation du Québec.

The federal government will also reform the program to encourage construction. This includes an extension of the duration of loans, financing of housing for students and seniors, assistance to builders to advance several projects simultaneously, a reduction in criteria linked to affordability, energy efficiency and accessibility, as well as speeding up the process for proven manufacturers.

These announcements on housing, however, risk coming up against the labor shortage in the construction sector. Last summer, CIBC estimated that there were 80,000 positions left to fill in this industry. “Yes, we will train more. Yes, there are several who will come from abroad,” indicated the Federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Jean-Yves Duclos. “We also need to make better use of capital, including technological capital and innovation. »

As with several pre-budget announcements made in recent days, Wednesday's announcement directly concerns a provincial jurisdiction.

The day before, Mr. Trudeau offered to distribute $5 billion to provinces that agreed to adopt some of his housing priorities, including the tenants' bill of rights. The Quebec government immediately demanded a “right of withdrawal with full compensation and without any conditions”.

“All these agreements were made in respect of the jurisdictions of the provinces, including Quebec,” added Minister Duclos on Wednesday. “On jurisdictional issues, these discussions are natural with all provinces. In all cases, we always arrive at a winning agreement in the end for the Government of Quebec in particular, a win-win for the Government of Canada and a win-win for the citizens. This will be the case here too. »

With Duty

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116