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Trudeau government presents plan to “solve the housing crisis”

Photo: Jonathan Hayward The Canadian Press The Liberals' plan promises to address the range of housing affordability challenges facing Canadians.

Nojoud Al Mallees – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

4:04 p.m.

  • Canada

The federal Liberals unveiled their plan to resolve the housing crisis on Friday. This includes new tax incentives, more than $1 billion for the homeless and a nationwide effort to build more housing on public lands.

The 28-page document, released days before the federal budget, is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority government to set an affordability agenda as it loses heavily on the ground against conservatives on cost of living issues.

With its plan, which it describes as a “call to action,” the Liberal Party is also sending a message to the provinces, territories and municipalities, who will also need to intensify their efforts.

“There is no way any single level of government can solve the national housing crisis,” Housing Minister Sean Fraser said in an interview.

“But if we work together and adopt policies that will help us achieve our goal, I know we can accomplish this important task,” he said.

The Liberals' plan promises to tackle the range of housing affordability challenges facing Canadians, including homeownership, skyrocketing housing costs, rental and roaming.

A series of new measures

Although much of the plan was announced during the government's pre-budget tour or even before, several new measures are outlined in the document, including expanded tax incentives for housing construction.

The federal government plans to increase the capital cost allowance rate for apartments from 4 to 10 percent, which will increase the amount builders can deduct on their taxes.

It also extends the GST exemption on rentals to student residences built by universities, colleges and public education authorities.

The plan also provides more money to combat homelessness, as communities across the country struggle with limited encampments and shelter space.

The Liberal government is enhancing the “Towards a Home” program, a federal initiative for the homeless, with an additional billion dollars over four years. Additionally, an additional $250 million is allocated to help communities end encampments and transition people into housing. The federal government is asking provinces and territories to match this amount.

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The Liberals are also promising a “historic change” in the way the government uses public land to build housing, which will involve making more land available for building homes and leasing land rather than selling it.

They also want to prevent large investors from buying existing single-family homes.

Other elements of the plan include training skilled workers, facilitating the recognition of foreign credentials and increasing productivity in the construction sector. These measures should speed up the housing construction process.

Implementation of the Liberal housing plan will depend in part on the cooperation of provinces and territories, some of which have already pushed back against the federal government over what they see as over-competence.

Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick were unhappy with Ottawa's decision to make access to new infrastructure funds subject to a set of conditions, including the legalization of quadruplex.

Mr. Fraser, however, rejected these criticisms, arguing that Canadians simply want their problems solved.

“When people come to my constituency office and they have a problem, the last thing they want to hear is that it's not my responsibility to help them,” he said.

“So from my perspective it was important that we do what we can to meet the challenge and demonstrate to Canadians that even where there might be technical hurdles in terms of jurisdiction, that wouldn't give us a reason to do anything other than the best we can,” Mr. Fraser added.

As the Liberals aggressively sell their housing plan, Canadians' success will depend on their confidence in the current government's ability to solve their problems.

Sceptical Conservatives

The federal Conservatives, ahead in the polls since the summer, seem to have succeeded in convincing a large contingent of voters that the Liberals are only making the cost of living problems worse.

Following the government's recent housing announcements, Conservatives have rejected them, arguing that pumping more money into “government red tape” will not solve the housing crisis.

“Trudeau has been in power for eight years and he has been making announcements like this since 2015. What are the results ?” said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre during a recent interview with the media.

Mr. Fraser acknowledged that the Conservatives have succeeded in capturing Canadians' attention on housing, but he said their solutions are not enough to meet the needs.

“I think it’s dangerous that politicians seek to prey on people’s very real anxieties without doing anything to help them. This makes me understand that this is more motivated by their appetite to seize power than by actually helping people in difficulty. »

For his part, Mr. Poilievre argued that the government should let developers build more housing.

The proposed housing plan focuses primarily on requiring cities to increase housing construction by 15% each year to receive their usual infrastructure spending, or risk having their funding withheld . Those who build more than the target would be eligible for bonuses.

The Bloc Québécois also expressed reservations. “Ottawa finally seems to be taking the housing crisis seriously, but it is going about it in the wrong way by grossly interfering in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces for the majority of its measures,” indicated Gabriel Ste-Marie, party spokesperson for Finance, in a press release.

“Ottawa's interference creates duplication of already existing programs in Quebec, which costs more and causes administrative burden which delays the completion of construction projects of which there is a glaring lack,” said the member for Joliette. Ottawa will have to quickly sit down with Quebec in order to transfer to it the sums dedicated to housing commensurate with its representativeness, and this, without conditions. »

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