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March 22nd, 2022 - Question Period - Affordable Housing

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Affordable Housing

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: My question is for the government leader in the Senate.

Information released last week from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed housing inflation rose by 3.5% in one month and by almost 30% year over year, which is a new record. Housing inflation in my province is worse than the national average. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, home prices in New Brunswick increased by almost 6% between January and February. In the Moncton area, home prices have increased by over 35% in one year and by a staggering 110% over the last five years.

Leader, many Canadians, especially our youth, believe they will never be able to afford their own home. Nationwide, the cost of homes has doubled under your government. Why hasn’t the Trudeau government brought forward a credible plan to deal with housing affordability?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The government has taken and will continue to take measures to address this important and troubling issue for those seeking housing.

In the Throne Speech, the government outlined initiatives to increase housing supply and to support Canadians looking to buy their first home. This includes a housing accelerator fund to speed up the construction of new housing, a flexible first-time homebuyer incentive and a rent-to-own program to help renters become homeowners.

The government is moving forward on its annual 1% tax on the value of non-resident-, non-Canadian-owned residential real estate, and I’m advised there will be additional measures in the upcoming budget.

Senator Poirier: A report on housing affordability released last summer from the Parliamentary Budget Officer found that the two main programs of the Trudeau government’s national housing strategy spent less than half of what they were supposed to during the course of their first three years. The actual support for low-income households is 15% lower than it was prior to the start of the National Housing Strategy. CMHC’s community housing units are 42% lower than before the National Housing Strategy because the Trudeau government allowed operating agreements of 183,000 low-income community housing units to lapse.

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Senator Gold, this is a record for your government according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. How can the Trudeau government continue to claim they are taking housing affordability seriously?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question.

The government does take housing affordability seriously. I won’t repeat what I have said, but the government has committed to a plan to help, amongst others, renters become owners. It is involved in an investment of $1 billion in loans and grants to develop and scale up rent-to-own projects. The government will also create a tax-free, first home savings account, allowing Canadians under 40 to save $40,000 and withdraw it tax-free to put toward their home purchases. These are some of the measures that the government will take to ensure that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home.

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