Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
What we have today, with the 's housing crisis, is double trouble. Since the Prime Minister took office and since he promised to make housing affordable, the average cost of a mortgage payment has doubled, from $1,400 a month to over $3,000 a month. The average cost of rent in Canada's 10 biggest cities has doubled, from about $1,100 to over $2,000 every single month. The average required minimum down payment for a house in Canada has doubled, from $22,000 to $45,000. This is all since the became Prime Minister and promised that he was going to make housing affordable.
This is not just an inconvenience. This is not just a case where politicians stand up and say that Canadians are having trouble making ends meet or putting food on the table, as politicians always like to say. This is becoming possibly the single biggest socio-economic crisis in my lifetime, as an entire generation of young people have come to accept, for the first time in Canadian history, that they will not be able to afford a home.
Let me share with members the mathematics of hopelessness. I was speaking to a young lady who is 28 years old and is a CATSA screener at Toronto Pearson Airport. She calculates that, at her current rate of savings, about $5,000 a year, it will take her somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 years to save for a down payment in Toronto. That means she will be well over 40 and unable to have kids. The hopelessness is not that she cannot afford a home; it is that her calculator tells her she will never be able to afford a home.
It would be nice and comforting for the if he could claim that this problem is out of his hands and that it is the result of some crazy global phenomenon that is not in his grasp, and therefore that he is once again just a passive observer in the misery that the Canadian people are living, as he so often tries to portray himself. The stats prove otherwise. This problem does not exist in the vast majority of countries in our peer group around the world. For example, last year, Fortune magazine concluded that the standard home in Canada now costs twice as much as it does in the U.S. Can the Prime Minister explain this? Prices are determined by supply and demand. The U.S. has 10 times the demand because it has 10 times the population. It has a smaller supply because its land mass is more confined and less than ours. It has 10 times the demand and less supply, yet, according to Fortune magazine, the prices in the U.S. are half what they are here in Canada.
Around the world, we see other examples. Vancouver, in NDP British Columbia, is now the third most overpriced housing market in the world according to Demographia. Toronto is the 10th. Both are more unaffordable than Manhattan, Los Angeles, London and even Singapore, an island where there is literally nowhere left to build. All these are places with more money, more people and less land, yet their real estate is more affordable than ours.
The practical consequences of this are that, for example, almost one-third of homeowners with a mortgage will pay off that debt over more than a 30-year period, due to higher interest rates, a significant increase over the once-standard 25-year amortization. The average rent for a spare bedroom, just the bedroom and not the overall housing unit, in a home, condo or apartment in Vancouver was $1,410. Let us put this into perspective. There are now couples who consider it a bargain to move into a townhouse with two other couples, each couple renting a single room, often sharing a bathroom, always sharing a kitchen, and paying $1,500 a month just for that room. Here in Canada, this is true housing poverty, and it has happened after eight years of the 's policies.
Why is housing so unaffordable? First, government deficits are driving up interest, which increases the mortgage rates for people with debt. Second, we have the fewest houses per capita in the G7 even though we have the most land to build on. Why is that? The answer is that government gatekeepers block housing construction. It takes up to 10 years to get a building permit. We rank 64th in the world for building permit delays. We rank second-last for the speed at which we approve building permits within the OECD. Every other country but one in that group is faster to deliver permits and allow houses to be build. This blocks construction and prevents Canadians from owning a house. We know this problem is worse in NDP-controlled British Columbia, where hard-left, woke mayors who stand up for the wealthy mansion owners in leafy, ritzy neighbourhoods block the poor, the immigrants and the working class from ever owning homes. Therefore, we do not have enough homes, and that is why Canadians do not have a place to live.
The government wants to bring in half a million people per year, which is a million people over the next two years, and it has no plan to build the houses to go along with that. In fact, since the current took office, we have fewer houses per capita than we did eight years ago. In other words, this problem is metastasizing and worsening every single day. The only party with a common-sense plan to fix it is the Conservative Party, and this is the plan.
The government has put $89 billion into housing programs. Government housing is not the solution. It is not working because, if there is a confined space of permitted land to build on, we could pour as much money as we want into it and we are not going to get more housing; we are going to get more expensive housing. Worse still, the has announced $4 billion more, not for housing, but for the gatekeepers. The money is literally going to go to the zoning and permitting departments of the big cities that are blocking the construction in the first place. In other words, it is a big, fat reward for those same bureaucrats who are blocking our youth from having homes, and that will build out the bureaucracy and slow down the construction.
Here is my common-sense plan. We will link the number of dollars big cities get for infrastructure to the number of houses that actually get built. Those who block construction will be fined. I will cut back their infrastructure. Those who speed up and lower the cost of permits to build more will get a building bonus from my government because incentives work. I will require every federally funded transit station to have high-density housing on all the available land around and even on top of the station. We will sell off 6,000 federal buildings to convert them into affordable housing for our young people to live in. We will speed up immigration for building trades. We will shift more of our education dollars over to the trades, rather than just to the white-collar professions.
We have seen the way. We can look at what the Squamish people have done in the city of Vancouver. They have their own land and do not have to follow the rules of the gatekeepers. They are building 6,000 units of housing on 10 acres of land. The Squamish have shown what can happen when we get the gatekeepers out of the way. That is exactly what we are going to do right across the country. We will clear the gatekeepers. We will remove the privileged class inside the castle walls and open the gates of opportunity up to anyone who is prepared to work hard. If people work hard in this country, the rules should allow that they have a decent home where they can start a family and raise kids. It is common sense, the common sense of the common people united for our common home, their home, my home, our home. Let us bring it home.
Madam Speaker, having a place to call home should not be merely a dream in Canada. It should not be a distant memory from generations past. It must be an achievable reality for all Canadian families. Canada cannot reach its full potential until everyone has a safe bed to sleep in and a welcoming place to come home to at the end of the day.
I have had the privilege of visiting many communities in Canada, and there is a despair that too many Canadians are feeling, an emptiness that many of our fellow citizens are dealing with as the dream of having a home of their own slips further and further away from their grasp. Canada needs leaders who will turn rhetoric and words into real tangible action to get shovels in the ground now.
The housing situation in Canada is in crisis, and times of crisis require bold action and real leadership.
I have spoken in the House before about Kim Doughty. She was the catalyst who motivated her husband Claude and me to get an emergency shelter in Huntsville, six beds of emergency shelter and 10 units of transitional housing. The community rallied to the cause and we got the project built. We were justly proud of the accomplishment. We also knew it was just one step, that much more to be done.
After I was elected as mayor, I met with Kim again, and some of her housing colleagues, and she told me some heartbreaking stories about suffering and struggle. Most of it was in hiding right in our picturesque Muskoka.
What Kim told me that day years ago is the same thing we hear today in our communities all across the country. Housing is more than economics. It is more than shovels, dirt and wood. For too many, it is literally life and death. If the leaders of all levels of government took up the cause of combatting this crisis, we would do more than just make our communities more affordable; we would literally save lives.
At that time, our council and administration set to work to change policies. We made land available to developers to build, and so did the community take up the cause.
The Table Soup Kitchen was working hard at the time to open a shelter for men in Huntsville. It was very near completion when an issue arose over the fire code and access and entry points, so we were not quite ready to open it. In the midst of all of this was a young man named Paul.
Paul had his struggles, but he was a joyful fellow and well-liked in the community. He requested to stay in the shelter one night, but he was turned away because it did not have its occupancy permit yet. Therefore, he stayed in his old beat up Volkswagen van that night. When police later found Paul's van, their investigation concluded that the candle he lit, presumably to create a bit of warmth on that cold November night, had tipped over as he slept.
Huntsville lost Paul that night, and our community was devastated, as was I. I received emails from residents who were shocked and angry, some charging that Paul's blood was on my hands. Paul's father later wrote a letter to our community to thank us for welcoming his son and for making Huntsville the place Paul called home, quite proudly. He assured us that Paul's death was not anyone's fault, that Paul made his own choices and that no one was to blame. Yet, were we not? Was I not, just a little?
What more could I have done to resolve the occupancy dispute? What mental health supports were not there that should have been there? Are any of us in leadership doing enough right now?
Tragically, Paul's story is not unique. It is one that is repeated in every corner of our country.
On average, in Toronto, three homeless people die a week. The vacancy rate for rentals in Canada is 1.9%. That means there is nothing to rent. Rental rates have doubled in the last eight years of the current government. Home prices have doubled in the last eight years under the government. For the 35-year-old living in their parents' basement unable to start a family, the entrepreneur thinking of moving to another country or the company passing off the opportunity to grow in Canada because it simply cannot find a place for their workers to live, the problem is getting worse.
It is a crisis. It holds our country back from economic opportunity and prosperity. It holds Canadians back from being able to achieve their dreams. It stops us from building communities. In many cases, it is life and death.
The problem is that we do not have enough supply. Years of bad policy have left our country without enough homes for Canadians. We are not building fast enough to keep up with the rising levels of immigration. The result is that too many of the homes we have today are too expensive for too many of the Canadians who live here.
The solution is to get more shovels in the ground and build more homes faster. We must make it easier to build, easier to get permits, easier to source the skilled labour and building materials needed to get the job done. We must make it harder for the NIMBY activists and politicians who hold development up to stop them from doing that.
Unfortunately, what we get from the government is a lot of talk and no real results. We see a Minister of Housing who attends a lot of announcements, but not a lot of ribbon-cuttings, groundbreakings or grand openings. In fact, a few weeks ago, I asked the if Canada was in a crisis, something his provincial counterparts, economists, housing experts and his own officials agree upon. He rambled on about political talking points and spoke about his government increasing their ambition.
In a crisis, we devote every possible resource to addressing an issue. It means bringing every single partner to the table and taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to face the challenge head on. Not surprisingly, the minister has not done this, because he does not seem to be aware of the magnitude of the problem.
Canadians deserve better than that. They deserve a country where if they work hard and play by the rules, the dream of owning a home will always be in reach. Our country deserves a government that will work hard to get shovels in the ground, as those Canadians who work hard every single day, saving and sacrificing, do their part to build a brighter future for them and their families.
This crisis is real, and the solutions we put forward must be bold. The old way of doing things simply does not work anymore. For years, housing providers from social housing, co-op housing, community groups and market-based developers have found it nearly impossible to access CMHC programs. Its procedures are convoluted, its decisions often do not even make any sense. The Auditor General's has reported that they are not entirely sure if what it is doing is having any impact. Canadians do not need the Auditor General to tell the truth. The fact of the matter is that it is not working.
Just last week, the CMHC raised insurance rates on multi-unit purpose-built rentals. It raised those premiums by almost 200%. The government's out-of-touch housing policies will continue to drive up the rent on the most vulnerable Canadians and further stall the construction of new units.
However, there is good news. The Conservatives are ready to clean up the government's mess. We are going to get the big government inaction out of the way and ensure that the federal government is no longer a barrier to getting more homes built. We are going to make available a minimum of 15% of underutilized government properties and clear the way for homes of all kinds to build on land that the government has not been using.
While we are at it, we will stand up to the NIMBY activists and cowardly politicians who plague our system, the folks who fight tooth and nail against new homes being built in our communities. The Conservatives understand that if we are ever going to ensure that the next generation, that new Canadians and that young families have the same opportunities that every person in the House has had, then we cannot allow the NIMBYs, the naysayers and the critics to stand in the way anymore.
That is why we are going to tie federal funding on all infrastructure projects for municipalities to how quickly they can clean up their act and get homes built faster. We will require that any major transit project to receive federal funding must have the land around that transit ready to go for high-density housing immediately.
Let me be clear that the Conservatives are loudly and proudly saying yes to building more homes in Canada's backyard. The days of municipal councillors being able to hold up projects and vilify homebuilders must come to an end. The days of talk, delays and deferrals must be a thing of the past.
Come the next federal election, the days of having a Minister of Housing who does not even have the courage to admit that Canada is in a housing crisis, let alone take the actions to fix it, will be done too.
As a former mayor, I can tell members that homes do not get built without leaders who have the courage, the fortitude and the conviction to make the tough decisions, some decisions that are not popular but must be made.
From coast to coast to coast, the housing crisis is claiming lives and shattering dreams. Canadians are living out of trailer parks and taking on crippling levels of debt. Sadly, too many are dying in the streets of our communities, big and small. It is time for bold action and tangible results. Working with all levels of government, trade unions, the private sector and community organizations, we will get things built.
I ask every Canadian who has ever dreamed of having a place to call his or her own, the single mom working relentlessly to build a better future for her children, the entrepreneur thinking of leaving Canada, the new immigrant dreaming of coming to Canada, the young people locked out of the housing market, the parents with young people still living in their basements, to not lose hope because we hear them loud and clear and help is on the way.
After the next federal election, the Conservative government will hit the ground running and work on day one to ensure that having a place to call home at the end of the day is not just the privilege of a few, but the reality of every single Canadian from every walk of life. A home of one's own in this magnificent Canada must no longer be just a dream; it must be a reality. The Conservatives will get our country building again. The Conservatives will bring it home.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from for his motion. It gives me the opportunity to talk about something that is extremely important, not only to me, but to our government. It also gives me the opportunity to point out that we are already taking the measures proposed in the opposition’s motion. However, the party across the aisle has often, if not always, voted against all these measures.
Like my colleague who is a former mayor, I am a former city councillor. I was astonished and shocked by the comments made by the earlier today. He said that he thinks municipalities are incompetent. I invite him to repeat that publicly so we can see the reaction of municipalities across the country. I think that we are all here to work together to provide municipalities with the necessary measures and support in the current housing shortage.
We can see how difficult things are for Canadians across the country. Families are feeling the impact of the rising cost of living, and the high interest rates are hitting them hard. Housing costs are taking a heavy toll. As a result, housing affordability is becoming one of Canadians’ major concerns. It is also one of the concerns we have as a government. As you know, we have made major investments in our recent budgets.
Housing is a basic human need. We have to make sure that all Canadians have a roof over their heads that meets their needs and helps preserve their dignity. This is also an economic development issue. The housing shortage can be felt across the country, not just in the major urban centres. In many regions of Canada, the vacancy rate is as low as 0.1%. That is unprecedented.
It is therefore crucial that we build more housing units, create more supply and make housing more affordable for both homeowners and tenants. That is why we have implemented concrete and ambitious measures to double the construction of new housing units and to meet Canadians’ needs over the next decade.
As we often say, our government adopted the very first national housing strategy. This strategy works across the whole housing supply continuum and seeks to help everyone, from the most vulnerable to those who want to purchase a property. Everyone has a role to play, including provincial governments, private businesses, community organizations and municipalities. Everyone needs to co-operate to accelerate housing construction.
This comprehensive 10-year strategy already includes investments of over $82 billion to give as many Canadians as possible a place to call home. Our government is committed to adopting a housing approach based on increased supply and the protection of human rights. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against every measure we presented. According to many of my opposition colleagues, we should do less.
There are no small measures or small projects; every unit we build is necessary to make the right to affordable, safe housing a reality each and every time.
I want to remind the chamber of the different measures we have put in place in the national housing strategy. I think the opposition needs a recap. This strategy is a tool kit that addresses the challenges along the spectrum of housing needs. These initiatives will help build new affordable housing, fund non-profit organizations and provide build capacity to communities. Right now, it is simply too hard to get the housing we need to build, particularly affordable housing.
The system is not working, and we need to accelerate change at the local level. That is why we recently launched the housing accelerator fund, a $4-billion initiative that will provide funding for local governments to fast-track the creation of 100,000 additional homes across the country. This fund will help cities, towns and indigenous governments unlock new housing supply by speeding up the development and approval of housing projects and incenting the development of community housing action plans.
This is a significant step in our plan to double housing construction over the next decade and make housing more affordable for Canadians. I think my colleague from will find that it directly addresses his desire to tackle municipal barriers to allow housing to be built faster.
In addition to this new fund, we are also making historic investments in proven programs that are already benefiting those vulnerable populations who need affordable housing. One such program is the rapid housing initiative. This program was created in the early stages of the pandemic to respond to urgent housing needs of our most vulnerable populations. It has exceeded all expectations. It is quickly creating more than 10,200 new permanent units of affordable housing.
Now we are investing another $1.5 billion over two years to extend this initiative. The new funding is expected to create an additional 4,500 new affordable housing units, with at least 25% of funding going towards women-focused housing projects.
Every Canadian has a right to a safe and affordable place to call home, and it is unacceptable that any Canadian experiences homelessness. That is why we are investing over half a billion dollars to continue doubling annual funding for Reaching Home, Canada's homelessness strategy.
Our historic investments in tackling chronic homelessness are already paying off. We have prevented over 62,000 from experiencing homelessness and placed 32,000 people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. We will continue to work with all levels of government and community partners to put an end to chronic homelessness across the country once and for all.
We know that it is getting harder for many Canadians to afford increased rent or to even find housing they can afford. That is why we are making investments to rapidly increase the supply of affordable rental housing. We are also providing direct financial assistance with the cost of rent to tens of thousands of Canadians across the country through the ongoing Canada housing benefit. which is delivered by the provinces and territories, and the federal Canada housing benefit top-up of $500.
The national housing co-investment fund is another program that has helped us build or renovate more than 300,000 rental units for the most vulnerable Canadians. Our government advanced $2.9 billion under this fund for this purpose. We also want to make the fund more flexible and more easily accessible. We could then accelerate the creation and renovation of some 21,000 rental units for Canadians who need them the most.
Our government is also determined to protect and develop high-quality, affordable co-operative housing units. I myself lived for several years in a co-op, and I helped create three co-ops. With my mother and my brother in a wheelchair on the third floor, we could plainly see that the housing supply was almost non-existent, especially for persons with reduced mobility.
That is why our government made a major, historic investment in co-op housing. We have not seen an investment of that magnitude for 30 years. It includes $500 million to launch a new co-op housing development program to increase the number of co-op housing units in Canada, and $1 billion in loans that will be reallocated to the rental construction financing initiative to support co-op housing projects.
These measures are in addition to our $4.3-billion federal community housing initiative, which is already helping protect and build community housing for some 330,000 households in Canada.
So far, the measures I mentioned focus solely on the challenge of increasing the housing supply. Of course, as we have seen, and as we know, it is currently very difficult for Canadians to fulfill their dream of buying a house.
That is why we launched a tax-free first home savings account, where Canadians can save up to $40,000. As with an RRSP, contributions will be tax-deductible and withdrawals to purchase a first home will be non-taxable, as is the case with a TFSA. It will be tax-free in, tax-free out.
We will also continue to improve the first-time home buyer incentive so that even more Canadians can have access to it, since we need to narrow the intergenerational gap.
We have relaunched the successful affordable housing innovation fund, with a new five-year rent-to-own funding stream. This will help housing providers develop and test rent-to-own models and projects to help Canadian families across the country find a new way to transition from renting to owning a home.
We are also moving forward on a homebuyers' bill of rights, which would protect homeowners from unfair practices like blind bidding or asking them to waive their right to a home inspection.
Our new legislation to ensure housing is owned by Canadians recently came into effect. The Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act, better known as the foreign buyers act, prohibits foreign commercial enterprises and people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents from purchasing homes in Canada for a period of two years.
Lastly, I think that every member in the House can agree that one of our society’s greatest failures is the housing situation of indigenous peoples. They live in overcrowded houses that are ill adapted to the climate and their communities’ culture.
Our government is working in close collaboration with first nations, Inuit and Métis organizations to jointly develop a distinction-based housing strategy. We must do more, and that is exactly what we are doing with our indigenous partners.
In the 2023 budget, our government introduced a series of measures representing $6.3 billion in funding over seven years. This includes a $300-million investment for developing, together with our indigenous partners, an urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy built and drafted by and for indigenous peoples.
In the 2023 budget, we committed to paying $4 billion over seven years to roll out this strategy. Indigenous peoples are conducting and leading a national engagement campaign to inform the strategy, which will complement the three distinctions-based housing strategies already developed jointly with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
All the initiatives I have mentioned build on Canada’s first-ever national housing strategy, our 10-year plan to give more Canadians a place to call home. I can say that we are nearly halfway through the strategy's 10-year timeline, and we are on track to meet very ambitious goals.
We have committed nearly 50% of the strategy’s funding. With that funding, we have supported the repair of over 298,000 homes, just shy of the target of 300,000. We have maintained the affordability status of 234,000 community housing units, which represents 60% of the target so far. We have supported the creation of nearly 120,000 new housing units out of the targeted 160,000. Those are big numbers, and there is no small project and no small unit.
I want to give a couple of examples. This morning, my colleague, the , talked about the Squamish Nation. It was the biggest investment of the national housing strategy, with $1.4 billion for 3,000 homes and units. When he criticizes the national housing strategy, would he have said not to invest in this project?
La Résidence des Ateliers provides 200 housing units for seniors. At Chez Doris, 19 women found a place to stay, as well as support to get them off the streets.
Toronto Community Housing repaired 58,000 units for the most vulnerable people. Thunderbird House got 22 tiny houses. Saint John's Rose House got 12 units.
Every project counts, because there are people behind it. These are a lot of numbers, but they mean nothing if we are not helping people like Neela, a young Métis woman living in Kamloops.
When she aged out of the child welfare system, culturally specific co-housing with elders helped her gain a support network. Her new home, made possible with federal funding, gave her more than just a roof and four walls. It helped her to connect with her culture and develop her spirituality, sense of purpose and self-confidence.
There are people like Ken, from Sudbury. He is now on the road to recovery after suffering a catastrophic brain injury. His mother credits his incredible turnaround to the support he received at Wade Hampton House, an affordable assisted living community for people with an acquired brain injury. Again, this was made possible through the national housing strategy.
Here is the last of many examples: I could talk about Molly from Toronto. Over several years, Molly saw her community of Milliken Co-op start to deteriorate. New renovations and upgrades have made the co-op more accessible and climate-friendly. Just as important, they have restored community pride.
Unfortunately, this motion makes it very clear that the Conservatives are simply not serious when it comes to housing. If they were, they would know that we are already taking unprecedented action to speed up municipal housing approvals, tie infrastructure investments to housing, and convert federal lands to affordable housing. All of the measures in my colleague's motion, we are already doing those things. There is not a serious plan from the Conservatives. There are buzzwords and gimmicks.
I am going to be honest with members. When the Leader of the Opposition was minister of housing, I was actually working on a whole project. If the Leader of the Opposition, the minister of housing at that time, had just done a little bit more, maybe we would not be in this situation right now. It is easy for him to criticize, but he was minister of housing. Maybe 5% of our budget right now is what he actually managed as the minister of housing. He has no lesson to give to anybody.
The only reason we made a co-op possible when I was, at that time, a city councillor, is that provinces stepped up. We, as a federal government, came back to housing with a national housing strategy. We have no lessons to take from opposition Conservatives. They have a leader who, when he was in government, had every means to do more for every single vulnerable Canadian of this country and for indigenous communities, and he did nothing.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for , who is here in the House.
Yesterday, I was totally amazed, dumbfounded and impressed. I was almost moved. I was almost overcome by emotion when I learned that the Conservatives would be moving a motion on the housing crisis. I had a strange feeling that I will not name in the House but that was very, very special.
I wondered what was happening for the Conservatives to take an interest in the most vulnerable, in single mothers, in the homeless and in women who are victims of domestic violence, and what made them want to talk about the housing crisis. I could not believe it. I thought that we were finally going to have an opportunity to really talk about it and to find solutions.
Since I have been in the House, people have heard me talk about the housing crisis hundreds, if not thousands, of times. This is one of my major concerns. As the mentioned, and as everyone will mention today, the right to housing in this country is a fundamental issue, a pressing need.
I have never heard the Conservatives propose even a hint of a solution and tell us what we should do to help the less fortunate in our society. I have never heard them say what sort of investment we should make or what sort of area we should target to achieve this goal.
Let us look at where we are. What is our starting point? What is the target? What is the challenge? Where do things stand, what is the bar? According to the CIBC and the CMHC, we need 3.5 million housing units in this country over the next decade. That is the challenge, that is what we need to do.
I expected that the Conservatives would come here today with solutions, that it would be an intense debate, that we could discuss the issues. However, the only thing they are doing with this motion, and we heard it from the leader of the Conservative Party earlier, is calling other levels of government incompetent.
All the Conservatives are doing is telling the provinces and municipalities to get out of the way. They are saying that, from their office towers in Ottawa with their ties and computers, they know how many social housing units need to be built in Victoriaville, and how many people experiencing homelessness there are in Victoriaville's different neighbourhoods, and if we give them the power to act, they will be so effective, good and wonderful.
I would like to remind my Conservative colleagues that, if we do not build more social housing in Canada, if we needed the national housing strategy rolled out by the Liberals in 2017, it is because of the Conservatives.
Let us not forget that, for years, the federal government built social housing for the poorest Canadians. After the Second World War, the federal government understood that it had to become involved in one way or another in building housing units. It understood that housing could not be left to market forces alone. For 50 or 60 years, the government built housing units. It did so by sending money to the provinces to be distributed to the municipalities to build housing units. It worked, as 60% of our low-income housing in Quebec right now was provided by the federal government. At the time, we understood that we had to invest to help the poorest Canadians, and that we could not allow market forces to control something as fundamental as housing.
In the 1993 election campaign, Mrs. Campbell, who was leader of the Conservative Party at the time, said that that was over. There would be no more investments in housing. Jean Chrétien, based solely on his courage and his ignorance of the issue, said that the Liberals would continue to invest in social housing, that it was too important and basic a need. That is one of the reasons he was elected, because people understood that there was still a housing problem. Unfortunately, it did not happen. He reneged on his promise.
Are my colleagues aware of how many social housing units would have been built in Quebec if we had continued to invest as we did between 1950 and 1993? There would be 60,000 more social housing units in Quebec. Right now, it is estimated that 45,000 people are on the waiting list for low-income housing. Let us imagine if we had continued to invest. In the meantime, the Conservatives were in power. They did not reinvest either, so we lost 60,000 social housing units, and there are 45,000 people waiting for low-income housing in Quebec.
In other words, housing is under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has money. I will not get into the details of the fiscal imbalance, but the money is in Ottawa, and the needs are in the provinces. It is not hard to understand.
A few days ago, I was in Quebec City to discuss housing with my hon. colleagues from and . I spoke with the people from Quebec City, those who my Conservative friends call incompetent, those they are telling to get out of the way so they can get the job done instead. They told me that, if the money were to arrive tomorrow morning, they could break ground immediately, right now, to build 700 units. I do not know who calls them incompetent, but the people I spoke to understood the situation on the ground; they knew what they were saying, knew what they were talking about. We had constructive discussions about what needed to be done. I thought to myself that, while the money may flow from Ottawa, no one understands the needs of the local population better than them. They are the ones who can meet those needs.
Unfortunately, that is all there is. In fact, I was disappointed. I would have hoped for progress, for there to be a motion. Not only that, the Conservatives are like my friends in the NDP. It is interesting. The Conservatives are adopting NDP techniques. They are using blackmail for funding. They say that, unless certain actions are taken, then funding will come with certain conditions. It is always the same thing with the federal government. It is the same thing in health. It is the same thing in all areas.
The New Democrats say they want to link social housing to immigration. We need to accept a certain number of immigrants or we will not get a single penny for housing. It is completely absurd reasoning. If we accept more immigrants, we will need housing, among other things, so they promise a certain amount if we meet a certain target. It is the same thing with the Conservatives. The cheque they are promising us comes with strings attached.
The problem, however, is the underfunding from the federal government. The problem is that the existing programs do not work. The programs are poorly put together; the co-investment program and the rental housing accelerator program make affordable housing at $2,000 in Montreal. Essentially, they provide loans to private entrepreneurs. They do not create affordable housing. They do not create social housing. They have nothing to do with it. They want to see a return.
Now, they want to impose conditions when what is needed is for funding to come primarily and massively from Ottawa.
I think it is fascinating that we cannot seem to find solutions. The money is here, but the needs are there. How many people are in core housing need in Quebec alone? There are 250,000 households in Quebec in core housing need.
There is a solution. We could spend the rest of the day trying to find solutions, but organizations in this field, such as the Réseau québécois des OSBL d'habitation and the Canada-wide network, already have a solution. What we need is a dedicated fund to buy privately owned housing and take it off the market to ensure accessibility and affordability. That is the solution everyone agrees on. British Columbia just did this. It invested $500 million. That is one of the things we have to do.
True, construction is tough. It is hard to get projects off the ground. Construction costs and labour shortages complicate things. That is why we have to take existing housing off the market and make it affordable for the lowest-income households for a long period of time. That is one of the solutions the Bloc put forward.
I hope my Conservative and Liberal friends will open their eyes to the severity of this crisis and bring real solutions to the table. This is a huge problem.
Madam Speaker, I will begin my speech by talking briefly about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. As you may recall, Maslow's hierarchy involves which needs are most important. At its foundation, there are the basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. If one or another of these needs is not met, it is impossible for a person to fulfill oneself or even to create strong ties with other people. It is even impossible for this person to feel safe, feel valued, have self-esteem and to trust oneself.
The current housing crisis is much broader than simply “having a roof over one's head”. It directly affects our residents and their ability to be well and fulfill themselves as human beings personally, socially and economically. This is a crisis that, in the medium term, will harm all aspects of our society. We need to be aware of that.
Yesterday, when I saw that the Conservative Party would be dedicating its opposition day to the housing crisis, I had the same reaction as my colleague from . I was amazed, surprised, happy, and then I read the motion. Oops. What a disappointment. The message I see there is that they do not trust those who know this issue well.
They want to reimpose conditions to ensure that the tax money collected from taxpayers living in the provinces and Quebec stays in Ottawa's coffers. That is what I understand from this opposition motion.
In short, it is as though the Conservative Party is suddenly siding with the Liberals and the NDP. I was a bit disappointed when I read the motion in its entirety, so much so, that I wondered whether we should not open up the Constitution, given that apparently no one wants to respect the Constitution and the rights and powers it sets out for each level of government. We could talk about it openly and renegotiate everything. Why not? If everyone wants to interfere in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the Canadian provinces—and even those of the municipalities—what good is a Constitution that sets out these jurisdictions? It would be better to renegotiate it properly. Then again, that is a different topic altogether.
To continue and to come back to housing, I would like to make the distinction between affordable housing, according to the Liberals' definition, and social and community housing. Affordable housing is housing that costs 10% less than market value. If market value is $2,500, there is a $250 discount, meaning rent is $2,250 a month. That is far from affordable for the vast majority of Canadians and particularly Quebeckers. Social and community housing is housing that costs a maximum of 25% to 30% of a person's total income. There are also community support, counselling and integration services near these housing units, sometimes on the same block. That is what is meant by social and community housing.
In Quebec right now, 14,000 people have core housing needs. That means that these 14,000 people have practically no housing or are living in housing that is far too small. In some cases there are nine people living in a two-bedroom apartment. Sometimes there are 15 people sharing a three-bedroom, and they are lucky they managed to get a three‑bedroom because that type of housing is rare. I will leave it at that, but that type of housing is truly very rare.
Housing is far too expensive. Even with the new builds, there is a 7% vacancy rate in Quebec City. That does not seem so bad, but the reason for that rate is that the housing is unaffordable. Rent is $1,500 for a one-bedroom, not including heat, power and utilities. It is outrageous.
Looking at the social and community housing situation, the reality is that the vacancy rate is currently between 0.3% and 0.5%. This is very unhealthy. There is substandard housing in Quebec, like everywhere else in Canada, because funding to renovate those housing units was never delivered. Funding was allocated for new builds, but they were built quickly and sometimes shoddily. Absolutely no funding has been delivered to renovate them, so Quebec is left to fend for itself.
Not all housing is suited to people's needs. I am talking about individuals with reduced mobility and seniors who need adapted housing. There is none at this time. In Quebec City alone, 2,000 people are waiting for low-income housing. That is a huge number.
Renovictions are part of the problem. Private investors are buying buildings and then evicting people so they can rent out the units at staggering prices. There is also Airbnb. I am not talking about single mothers who keep one room for their child and rent it out when their child is not there. I am talking about people who use Airbnb as a business. Those people buy houses and rent them to travellers. That is problematic.
Newcomers need help to get settled. Our organizations are overwhelmed. Our community organizations themselves are looking for space. They are at that point. If they cannot find it, they are forced to close or to limit their services to those in need. That is unacceptable. The federal government in Ottawa may not be aware of this whole situation, but community organizations and municipalities certainly are.
It is therefore indecent for the government to impose all sorts of conditions on the funding so that taxpayers' money is not used to help taxpayers who really need it. It is shameful and nonsensical at best. Then members say that the Bloc Québécois is a centralizing party and that it is turning into something else. We are not a centralizing party, quite the contrary. We want the money to get to the right place, to those who know what the needs are. We are the exact opposite of a centralizing party. We are separatists. How much less centralizing can a party get?
Right now, in Quebec City, there is woman who is letting eight homeless people live in her shed. Yes, I said eight people. She would let them stay in her home, but it is barely big enough for her and her family. That is what things have come to. How did we get to this point?
We have 700 projects that are ready to go but are still awaiting funding. The funding is not there, or the project cannot be completed on budget because there is a labour shortage and the cost of labour has increased astronomically. That is not even to mention the skyrocketing costs of materials. It does not make any sense.
There are no start-up funding programs for social housing projects. There is no money for renovating existing social housing, as I mentioned before. There are no programs that would allow a private seniors' residence that is about to close down to be converted into a community seniors' residence, so residents do not have to be evicted. There is no predictable, recurrent funding for resources, for programs. These are just a few of the problems that are out there, and they all have a solution.
The reality in Quebec is not the reality in Vancouver, Fort McMurray, Iqaluit or Toronto. In fact, the realities are different within Quebec itself, which is why it is important that the municipalities do the work, not the paternalistic federal government.
In short, Quebeckers know what they need, and they do not need federal control in order to have their needs met. Independence is the only way to free ourselves completely from this control and to finally be masters in our own house and able to meet our own needs. Today's Conservative motion demonstrates exactly that.
Madam Speaker, I want to inform you at the outset that I am proud to be splitting my time with the biggest and strongest proponent of affordable housing across the country. I am of course referring to the member for .
We are in a crisis, which has been brewing for many years. I will come back to that. The reality is that even though the Conservatives moved this motion today, they do not put forward much in the way of solutions. For example, they blame the municipalities. However, I know that many municipalities are doing everything they can to ensure they have affordable housing. What is often lacking is the federal contribution. The Conservatives also say that municipalities should plan. Back home, in the greater Vancouver area, municipalities are already doing that.
The Conservatives are also proposing that federal buildings be converted to housing. I would just like to mention that, during the Harper regime, the Conservatives sold off federal government assets. It is a bit rich to hear them say today that they made a mistake during their 10 years in power, that they really ripped Canada's social fabric, but that they now want to make amends and turn the federal government's assets into something useful.
What is missing from their motion? There is no mention of co-operative housing, which has been a long-standing solution in Canada. There is no mention of community housing, which is foundational in helping people access affordable housing.
There is also no mention of the role that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or CMHC, has played over the years. The fact is, it has been very slow to provide adequate funding, and instead, it has often served to increase banks' profits. During the financial crisis, the Harper government made sure that tens of billions of dollars went to maintaining bank profits, rather than building affordable housing. We saw the same thing more recently from the Liberals during the COVID-19 crisis. Some $150 billion from the CMHC was used to prop up our big Canadian banks, rather than invest in affordable housing.
These are not solutions. One solution would be to change the aspect of our tax system that encourages investors to buy up affordable housing and convert it into housing units for the rich and wealthy. This is a terrible aspect of our tax system, one that has to change. We need to prioritize and fund affordable housing, ensuring that at least one-third of the new units built are affordable. All the things I just mentioned could improve this motion and ensure that we have a policy based on common sense. I know my colleague from Vancouver East will speak to that later.
We are in a crisis. There are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who cannot find affordable housing, and we have had a federal government that has been very slow in the pickup. The NDP has been pushing, in this minority Parliament, as we did in the last, to force the government to make these investments. We are making some progress, but it is not at all on the scale that is required.
For a time in my life, like so many other Canadians, I simply could not afford housing. I had to couch surf. I fortunately had a second-hand car that I was able to sleep in. These are the kinds of things that Canadians should not have to struggle with. There should be that right to housing, and this is something the NDP has brought forward repeatedly over the course of the last few years, which is to put in place housing policies that actually make sense.
The Conservatives are bringing forward a different motion today, and this is something that we are all rejoicing in. They normally do the carbon tax for every one of their opposition days. Today, they are finally tackling housing. However, what I was hoping to see was the member for standing up to say, “We are sorry, Canadians. We are sorry about our contribution to the housing crisis. We are sorry that we almost doubled housing prices during the Harper regime.”
Yes, the Conservatives can point to the Liberals for doing the same thing, but this tit-for-tat does not provide the affordable housing that Canadians need. I thought that the member for Carleton would stand up to say that they were so sorry that, in the last five years of the Harper regime, they lost 322,000 affordable rental units. I thought he would say that they are sorry they did that to Canadians, that they contributed, over the course of the 10 years of the Harper regime, to stripping apart the social safety net and allowing the destruction of affordable housing, with so many housing units converted to higher-priced units, so people could not afford them.
I was hoping the member for would do that, but we have not had any apologies from the Conservatives for their absolutely lamentable record over the course of that dismal decade of the Harper regime, where they stripped apart all of the protections that Canadians needed. The Conservatives basically amplified a despicable decision made by Paul Martin to end the national housing program and, instead of saying it was developing as a crisis and that they needed to address it, we saw the results.
We saw that the Conservatives did not protect those affordable housing units and did not make the investments in social housing, co-operative housing or community housing, which Canadians, seniors, students, families and people with disabilities need. The Conservatives did not do any of that. They had an appallingly bad record.
The first step the Conservatives need to take, as a party, is to recognize what a deplorable, appalling record they have. They nearly doubled housing prices with respect to market housing, and they basically did not protect hundreds of thousands of rental units that were affordable, and those that were lost to higher-priced units in conversions. These are things that Conservatives should acknowledge. These are things for which Conservatives should step up to say that they are sorry, to Canadians, for their very large part in provoking the housing crisis that exists today.
However, not a single Conservative has done that. No Conservative has stepped up to say that they were wrong to do what they did during that dismal decade and to acknowledge their contribution to this housing crisis. Yes, the Liberals are culpable as well, but the Conservatives played a significant, major and disappointing role in the housing crisis that we know today.
After the Conservatives allowed those rental units to be converted, and people with disabilities, seniors, students and families lost their affordable housing, the most reasonable person in this country would say that, really, when the Conservatives are raising in the House on the issue of housing for the first time ever for their opposition day, they should have started off by saying that they are sorry for all the neglect and everything they did that has contributed to so many people being homeless today.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to engage in this debate today about housing. In fact, I could talk about housing all day long.
The motion before us today is indeed an interesting one. In the Conservatives' approach, per usual, they focus only on issues where they could actually put out buzzwords to rev up the community about a situation. The solutions they provide often have tremendous gaps and, interestingly, they always miss when it comes to targeting the corporate sector. I wonder why the Conservatives always think the corporate sector will take care of things, that somehow things will magically be okay, including the situation with housing. If the market were going to take care of the housing crisis, or, in fact, if the market were not going to escalate the crisis, then we would not be in this situation today.
The reality is this: When we look at the housing crisis from coast to coast to coast, we do need government intervention. I am a strong proponent of that, saying that the federal government needs to show leadership. It does not matter who is in government. Whether it is the Liberals or the Conservatives, government needs to be there for people to ensure housing as a basic human right.
The reality is that the government has not been there. That is why we have the housing crisis we face today. The Liberals cancelled the national affordable housing program back in 1993. Our country lost more than half a million units of social and co-op housing that would otherwise have been built had the Liberals not cancelled the program.
Now, I have to say that the Conservatives also did not do their part. They were in government as well. They did not invest in housing as they needed to do. More to the point, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives invested in housing to meet the needs on the basis of housing being a basic human right. Not only that, but they allowed the market to go rampant in taking advantage of Canadians who need housing.
What happened after the federal Liberals cancelled the national affordable housing program? We started to see real estate investment trusts come into the market. They started to buy up housing stock in the community. Not only did they start to buy up the housing stock, but the government of the day also allowed them to walk away with a free pass to boot. They did not have to pay the corporate tax rate, even though, for all intents and purposes, they operate like a corporation.
As a result, the seven largest real estate investment trusts did not have to pay taxes at the corporate rate to the general revenues, to the tune of $1.2 billion. This tax should have been collected, and then the government could have reinvested that money into housing by creating an acquisition fund for non-profits, which the Liberals say they support. They should have funded it so that we could hold the housing stock. However, the Liberals did not do that.
It was not just the Liberals; the Conservatives did not do that either. They allowed this to go on and on. Now, the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer just issued a report indicating that Canada will lose another $300 million over the next four years if we do not change the tax policy. The NDP has said on the public record that we need to stop fuelling the housing crisis. Corporate landlords need to pay their fair share, and real estate investment trusts need to pay the corporate tax rate. The money that we collect should be reinvested back into housing.
However, we do not see any of that language in this motion today. The Conservatives are saying that local governments should pre-emptively upzone a parcel of land for the development of housing. Now let us be clear: When they do that, what is happening is that the Conservatives are saying to the local government to just write developers a blank cheque. Every time a parcel of land is upzoned, that land value increases exponentially.
I am not saying we should not upzone land for further housing development, but my question is this: Why did the Conservatives not put in language to say that there needs to be a return back to the community? When we give value in land to the developers, there has to be a return back to the community to ensure that the increased value in land that they receive from the upzoning is actually going to the community in the form of community contributions, more social housing, day care spaces and green spaces, as examples. The Conservatives consistently and persistently give a free pass to the private sector; according to the New Democrats, that is wrong.
We also want to see “affordability” defined. What has happened over the years is that both the Liberals and the Conservatives have eroded the term “affordability” to the point where it is meaningless. In fact, if we talk to people in the non-profit sector, they think that when the government says, “affordable housing”, it is a four-letter word. It does not actually amount to being affordable by any stretch of the imagination.
Once upon a time, core-need housing was deemed to be affordable when rent was geared to income. That has now disappeared. It no longer exists. It exists only in theory, and that should stop. This motion should have incorporated language on affordability and defined it better.
We want to tie federal infrastructure dollars for municipalities to the number of new homes built, impose clawbacks on municipalities that delay new home construction, and ensure that there is federal funding for major transit projects to cities that pre-emptively upzone lands around transit infrastructure for higher-density housing.
The NDP is calling for amendments to this motion. We are calling for the Conservatives to accept three amendments. Specifically, we want to ensure that at least one-third of the new homes built meet core affordability needs and that at least one-third of the new homes are set, at a minimum, at 20% below market housing rent. We need to ensure that upzoning provides tangible benefits to local communities, including additional affordable housing, additional green spaces and child care spaces. We also need to ensure that the underutilized federal properties made available for housing to create new social co-ops and community housing guarantee the affordability of those units and that the value of the upzoning goes back to the community and not into the hands of the developers. That is what we need to do.
I hope that the Conservatives will support these amendments and that the language of the amendments fits what is required in this House.
I move that the motion be amended as follows: “(a) in paragraph (a) by adding after the words ‘new homes built’ the words ‘to ensure at least 1/3 of the new homes built meet core affordability needs of Canadians, that at least 1/3 is set at minimum 20% below market housing rent’; (b) by adding the following paragraph after paragraph (b): ‘ensuring that this “up-zoning” provides tangible benefits to local communities, including in the form of additional affordable housing, additional green spaces, and child care spaces, so that “up-zoning” does not just benefit developers’; and (c) in paragraph (c) by replacing the words ‘housing while guaranteeing’ with the words ‘social, co-operative, or community housing to guarantee.’”
That is the motion that I would like to move in order to amend the Conservative motion; it can ensure that we are clear in what we are talking about, that “affordability” is clearly defined and that there is a return back to the community when we upzone land so that the benefit is not just a blank cheque for the developer; rather, it is a community benefit going back to the people.
Mr. Speaker, off the top, I want to note that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
We have heard today that adequate, suitable and affordable housing provides stability and security, and contributes to the well-being of a person, yet that sense of security that comes with appropriate and stable housing is becoming further out of reach for many Canadians. This is particularly true when it comes to young Canadians.
Eight years into the Liberal government and its inflationary policies, we find ourselves in a genuine housing crisis. We just have to look at the facts to see how broken housing is here in Canada. The motion we are debating today clearly lays out how desperate housing has become under the Liberal government’s leadership. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the 10 biggest cities has almost doubled since it has taken office. Monthly mortgage costs have also doubled in that time. The cost of owning a home is, on average, 60% of a person’s income, making home ownership out of reach for even more Canadians. In fact, nine out of 10 young Canadians have given up on the dream of home ownership entirely.
With inflation soaring at a 40-year high, it is cutting into the paycheques of Canadians, driving up costs and limiting purchasing power. Let us not forget the Liberal government’s inflationary carbon tax, which is also driving up the cost on everything and constraining household budgets. Of course, the government's deficits are driving up mortgage rates. With higher interest rates, many families are struggling to make their mortgage payments. The current reality is that, under the Liberal government’s leadership, rent has become ever more unaffordable and home ownership ever less attainable.
The critical need for housing exists across the continuum of housing. Because this shortage exists in every stage of housing, there are Canadians living in housing that is not suitable to their circumstances, but they are unable to transition. Supply is simply not meeting demand, and existing programs have not closed the gap.
When it comes to chronic homelessness, the Auditor General’s report from last fall portrayed a very bleak assessment of the effectiveness of the Liberal government’s policies and leadership on the housing file. The Auditor General found that CMHC could not determine whether or not its programs were improving housing outcomes for vulnerable Canadians and preventing chronic homelessness. The reason for that was it did not know who was benefiting from the initiatives.
In that same AG report we found that Infrastructure Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada could not assess the success of their programs either. These departments were not using up-to-date data on homelessness to assess their effectiveness. The report makes clear there is minimal federal accountability on the goals set out by the Liberal government in its national housing strategy, and it is not clear who the lead is on these files. ESDC and CMHC are not coordinated, and the disconnect between these two entities is a recipe for failure.
We know the Liberal government loves a good photo op and a big announcement. Of course, big targets and ambitious goals sound great, but all the targets in the world will not achieve results without a plan and real leadership as a driving force to bring them home. The Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that six of the main national housing strategy programs have barely spent 50% of their budgeted amount. If the funding envelope exists but is not being utilized, that gap points to a problem in the structure and delivery of these programs. We hear about how long it takes for applications to be processed. A lengthy processing time can negatively impact the viability of a project. Inflation is soaring, costs are going up, taxes are going up and labour is limited.
All of those factors have a direct impact on project costs and their timelines. When we delay getting shovels in the ground, costs go up and, at some point, projects are no longer viable.
We also often hear about unnecessary red tape and the bureaucratic hoops that are required to access CMHC programs. There is certainly a red tape problem when applicants need to hire high-priced consultants to successfully navigate the application process, and that is an issue. It means smaller communities and community groups are at a major disadvantage because they do not have the resources needed to navigate the bureaucracy that is CMHC. In practice, this is yet another obstacle in increasing the supply of housing in Canada. The lack of housing supply is driving up prices and directly contributing to the lack of affordable housing options.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has said that Canada needs 5.8 million new homes by 2030 to restore affordability. To build those new homes, we need to have skilled tradespeople to do the work. Unfortunately, there are significant labour shortages across industries and sectors. Whether it is health care workers, child care workers or tradespeople, workforce shortages are a recurring priority that comes up in just about every single meeting that I have in my office.
With the shortage of skilled tradespeople, the construction industry is not immune. A targeted workforce strategy that has immediate and also long-term solutions is critical. There needs to be a comprehensive plan in place to ensure we have the necessary skilled tradespeople to build new houses. That strategy should include a plan to work with provinces to ensure that our federal immigration system is attracting immigrants with skills in the trades. However, it also needs to include a plan to work with the provinces to speed up the credential recognition process so they can fill those immediate needs in our economy and relocate as needed.
Every level of government has a role to play in addressing the current housing crisis in our country. Certainly, all levels of government need to work in co-operation to achieve meaningful results. That requires strong leadership at the federal level. It is time for a federal government that is less focused on announcements and more focused on results. We need to remove government gatekeepers who are blocking home building.
Municipal governments are on the front lines of housing and have direct impact on the construction of new homes. The federal government can help remove municipal gatekeepers by creating greater incentives for municipalities to build houses.
The federal government is providing billions of dollars annually to municipal governments. Those federal infrastructure dollars should mean a result of the new construction of homes. A system that rewards construction and disincentivizes delays will ensure progress.
The federal government also has thousands of buildings that are being underutilized, buildings that could be better used to meet today’s housing demands. The Conservatives have proposed selling off 15% of underutilized federal buildings to increase the supply of affordable housing. These Conservative solutions will help make real progress and close the gap between the growing demand and the shortage in supply.
As the housing crisis grows, we need to see focused and effective leadership at the federal level. The is always quick to stand in the House and talk about the Liberals' big announcements, but the facts speak for themselves. The demand for housing is growing and the supply is not keeping pace. Rent and mortgages are becoming more and more expensive and the Liberal government has failed to deliver efficient and effective programs.
The Conservatives have a plan. We have proposed practical solutions to address the growing housing crisis. It is time for effective federal leadership that will remove gatekeepers and cut unnecessary red tape so we can get houses built.
Mr. Speaker, since the government came into power, the cost of housing has doubled. Nine out of 10 young Canadians believe they will never have home ownership. Families from coast to coast to coast cannot even afford the interest on their mortgages. Numerous rankings regularly list Vancouver and Toronto as among the most unaffordable cities in the world. To put that into context, they are worse than those notorious for their high cost of living like New York. Perhaps the most illustrative comparison is that with our neighbour down south.
The United States has just shy of 332 million people living on 9.8 million square kilometres. In contrast, Canada has 38 million people living on 10 million square kilometres. In no world does it make sense that housing should cost twice as much here than in the U.S. despite its density being nearly 10 times our own.
The simple reality is that the government's mismanagement coupled with local NIMBY gatekeepers block development and drive up mortgages and housing costs. This is the only explanation of the fact that we have the fewest homes in the G7 per capita despite having the most space.
The has enabled municipalities that block development and rob our future generations of a chance of home ownership. A Conservative government would put an end to that. We would remove the bureaucratic gatekeepers from the equation, free up land and speed up the accreditation and permit process to get more shovels in the ground as soon as possible. This is a dire necessity that needed action yesterday, not tomorrow.
In eastern Ontario, a recent report stated that our region needed to build upward of 14,000 rental units just to meet demand. This does not include any actual growth, but solely takes into account what we need to build to meet the demand. This is ludicrous and a direct result of the failure of governments at all levels that acquiesce to activists.
This crisis is not just limited to housing. Just last week, I received an email from the Food Sharing Project, which serves Hastings—Lennox and Addington and the Kingston area by providing food and equipment to schools. It said:
The 2022-2023 school year has been unprecedented for The Food Sharing Project. Due to increasing demand and the skyrocketing costs of food, we are facing a significant budget shortfall as we are now sending out over $25,000 in food every week. We need your help to ensure that students do not go through the school day hungry.
This is the reality of the 's Canada: kids who cannot eat and parents who cannot afford shelter.
Inflation is at a 40-year high. Canadians are sacrificing on food for shelter. Mortgages have doubled since 2015, averaging approximately $3,000 a month. Mortgage interest costs rocketed up to 26% in March alone. Red tape is costing an additional $200,000 on new homes. Average rent has nearly doubled for a two-bedroom apartment since 2015, increasing to $2,200 from $1,171 a month. Our youth have lost their dream of home ownership.
The current housing crisis is affecting every single riding across Canada. Each and every one of us in the House is elected to this place to represent our constituents. We have all been contacted by our constituents. On this side of the House, we have a plan to fix the housing crisis, with six simple solutions for Canada.
Canada's Conservatives would require large urban centres where the cost of living is particularly egregious, like Vancouver, to substantially increase home building in their borders. Those that cannot comply would face penalties in the vein of withheld federal funds. This is completely in line with existing legislation regarding provincial governments under the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act.
We would crack down on everyone's most annoying neighbours, the NIMBYs. We would implement a system for residents to raise concerns about the pedantic obstructionism. Should the decision body decide the complaint is well founded, we would supply infrastructure dollars to get those housing units built. In short, we would out-NIMBY the NIMBYs.
We would incentivize municipalities to increase their housing capacities by rewarding those that take the necessary steps to build homes in the form of a building bonus. This would give the latitude to municipalities to decide how to best address their individual needs instead of a cookie-cutter approach, which so often fails in a nation as large and diverse as Canada.
Further, we would require any municipality that seeks federal funds to pre-approve high-density and employment applications on available lands surrounding areas such as bus and subway stops. This would allow common sense residential zones to be built around accessible, walkable areas so residents will not need to choose between living downtown so they can walk to work and living in the suburbs but requiring a car. This is good policy, not only for the pocketbook, but also for the environment.
We would take advantage of the recent remote work paradigm by selling off 15% of federal buildings and have them turned into affordable housing. These buildings are generally already located in urban centres and are already built. The only construction would be converting them and rezoning them to be residential. We expect this would result in 5,500 new residential buildings capable of housing dozens, if not hundreds, of units each.
However, perhaps most importantly, we would stop printing money. Taking inspiration from the Harper era's one-for-one rule regarding red tape, we will require every dollar that we spend to be matched by a dollar saved. This would end the constant cycle of inflationary bubbles caused by out-of-touch central bankers who, on occasion, have helped created the current housing and market crisis.
I would also like to take a moment to address a somewhat different housing crisis affecting some Canadians, our armed forces. The federal government recently implemented changes to the post living differential. This is essentially a top-up for CAF members based on where they live. The government rightly sought to update the formula to better address the current economic climate of the posting areas, as the initial computation was done years ago.
While the formula was due for an update, the government completely revamped the benefit in a manner that has massive financial implications for longer-serving members. They get penalized for being promoted, changing bases, being married to CAF members and succeeding. They are, quite literally, being more penalized the longer they serve. This is having massive consequences for troop morale in a time when retention is quite literally an institutional crisis that cannot be understated. This will add to the already ongoing dearth of long-serving members, as they are looking to transition out of the armed forces. This is unacceptable, and it needs to be addressed. Those men and women who are serving, or who are thinking of serving, should know that a Conservative government would have their backs.
Canada's Conservatives will build and bring it home.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I want to take a bit of a different approach to the issue because people who are following the debate should get a bit of a history and an understanding of why we are where we are today, who is responsible for what, and what the current government has done. I believe that the government, in a real and tangible way, has stepped up to the plate. Let me expand by commenting on what I talked about at the beginning.
When I was first elected to the Manitoba legislature back in 1988, I was appointed as the housing critic for the Province of Manitoba. Therefore, virtually from day one, I have had an interest in housing. With respect to public, subsidized housing, the cost was always somewhere in the range of 25% or closer to 30% of an individual's salary, and they would be subsidized in the tens of thousands of non-profit housing units in the province of Manitoba alone.
With respect to federal contributions, one of the biggest ongoing contributions that Ottawa provides across the country is for non-profit, low-income housing, which is there for people with disabilities, seniors, individuals on fixed incomes and individuals who have low income or virtually no income at all. We tie in literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and that is how Ottawa, in essence, has that ongoing support.
I want to go to 1991 or 1992. It was during the Charlottetown accord debate. I was in the north end of Winnipeg, and I was debating Bill Blaikie, an NDP member of Parliament at the time. Bill Blaikie was defending why Ottawa does not have a role in housing and why provinces and municipalities should be responsible for housing. I disagreed with that back in 1991. Every political party supported divesting of Ottawa's authority in housing back in 1991-92. That is why I was not surprised when we saw cutbacks in housing in the following years.
I opposed it then, and I would oppose it today, but the difference today is that we finally have a who understands the important role that Ottawa plays in housing. Therefore, I am hoping that members of all political parties will recognize that, whenever there is a constitutional debate, hopefully sometime in the distant future, never again will we see federal politicians not recognizing the importance of housing to Canadians. It is important that Canada, as a national government, does play a role.
Let us go back over the last number of years since we have replaced the Harper regime. We have seen not only hundreds of millions of dollars but also multiple billions of dollars being invested in a national housing strategy, which includes things that are being proposed by the Conservative Party today in its motion. The Conservatives know that. Do we think they would come up with an original idea? What they are doing, in many ways, is taking some Liberal ideas and amplifying them.
We could talk about the accelerator fund to speed up the construction. In the budget, the and the government have been very clear that we want to double construction over the next decade over what we are seeing today. The accelerator fund is an investment of billions of dollars to speed up the process while working with municipalities.
I would hope that people who are following the debate today would have an appreciation that there are limitations on what Ottawa can actually do. We can use financial incentives, which we are doing. Like no other government in the history of Canada has ever done, this government has stepped up to provide the financial incentives to see more construction and more homes built in Canada.
However, we are only one of several players. I would argue that our municipalities, both rural and urban, need to come to the table in a larger capacity. The zoning issue, the bureaucracy of red tape in construction, is of critical importance. If anyone wants to try to buy a lot in the city of Winnipeg, I wish them good luck. No one can buy an individual lot. If, by chance, someone might discover something, we are talking about huge amounts of money. Around 1990, I purchased a lot for $30,000 or $32,000. A few years later, the lot prices skyrocketed. Now, people cannot get lots. However, in some of the rural communities in Manitoba, people can find those $30,000 lots.
Let us ask the questions. Why? Where is the money being invested? How can we ensure that housing remains more affordable, that there are larger quantities of space for the building of homes, and that there is more construction? In order to do that, as the seconder of the motion, a former mayor, made reference to, cities must play an absolutely critical role and step up. In our case, we are encouraging that. Provinces also play a critical role. When I was the housing critic at the provincial level in the late 1980s, infill housing was really important. We needed to look at ways to build homes on vacant lots, particularly in areas that were in need.
Housing co-ops are another form of housing that Canadians could truly benefit from. There is a difference between a housing co-op and an apartment block. I like to say that people in an apartment block are tenants, and that, in a housing co-op, they are residents. There is a big difference. Being in a housing co-op is similar to being a condo owner of sorts. There are opportunities for us to be able to expand. That is why, when the indicated that we wanted to see the expansion and supported that expansion of housing co-ops, I saw that as a good thing.
There are organizations, third parties out there, that have done phenomenal work. I am thinking in particular about Habitat for Humanity in the city of Winnipeg and in the province of Manitoba. Habitat for Humanity has built 500 new houses over the years. One of the biggest benefactors has been the community of Winnipeg North, whether it is in The Maples, the traditional north end, Point Douglas, or all over Winnipeg North. Habitat has been there to support people who would otherwise not have had the opportunity, in all likelihood, to become home owners. Habitat is not unique to the province of Manitoba; it is across Canada. The federal government has supported that.
The federal government continues to work with willing provinces wherever it can. The point I am trying to emphasize is that the federal government, like no other government in the history of Canada, with the possible exception of when the World War II war homes were being built, has come to the plate and has been there in a very real and tangible way, with more than just dollars. Our commitment to support Canadians and the housing industry is second to no other in the history of Canada. We do want, and we are prepared to continue, to work with the stakeholders, whether those are private, non-profit, provincial governments, territorial governments or indigenous governments.
The former Kapyong Barracks is a wonderful parcel of land that is being developed today. It was formerly federal lands. There is so much more to say, but I will leave it at that.
Mr. Speaker, it is great to rise any day in the honourable House to see my esteemed colleagues debate a very important topic for our constituents from coast to coast to coast.
Before I get into my formal remarks, I first want to thank those Canadians who are out there today, in the communities we all call home, building the homes that newcomers and Canadians who are purchasing their first home will move into, whether they are in the mid-rise, low-rise or high-rise categories of the housing sector, and whether they are in Ontario, B.C., or out on the east coast. I want to thank all of the union members from my riding's own LiUNA Local 183. Its training facility and future headquarters will open in a few months. I also want to thank the carpenters' union Local 27, the individuals who build the homes, and those in the subtrades, such as electricians, the people who do the forming, and the roofers. I wish to thank all of the folks who participate in building homes across Canada for what they do day in and day out. Whether it is raining, cold, snowing or hot, they are there doing that great work.
The housing builders and developers, many of whom reside in the city of Vaughan and are good friends, do a phenomenal job building homes for Canadians. They take risks, and they have done it for decades. Some of these developers and builders came to Canada as immigrants, especially those in the Italian Canadian community. For the last 50 or 60 years, they have built literally thousands of homes for Canadians. It is great to see the next generation, their kids, taking over their businesses and continuing that entrepreneurial spirit that personifies the country that my parents, who now get to call Canada home, came from.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk about an issue that really matters to me: housing affordability for Canadians.
Everyone in Canada deserves to have a safe, affordable home, but we know that is getting harder and harder for Canadian families across the country. Housing is a key socio-economic determinant essential to building communities, supporting our families and creating opportunities for young people.
In the wake of the pandemic, we are experiencing a period of high inflation and rising interest rates. Canadians are extremely concerned about the housing crisis and are getting more and more worried.
The Canadian housing system is complex, with many factors contributing to significant and ongoing price increases. We know one of the main reasons for the crisis is that housing supply is not keeping up with demand and has not been for years. Canada's population is growing faster than that of any other G7 country, but our housing supply has not been able to keep up with demand.
Supply and demand are out of balance.
There is no simple solution. However, in the medium and long term, a big part of the solution lies on the supply side. In other words, to make housing more affordable, we need to build more housing. That is what our government is doing with the national housing strategy, which includes many supply-side programs supported by more than $82 billion over 10 years.
The strategy was developed before the pandemic. That is why the 2022 federal budget, which focused on housing, introduced new tools to address the new housing reality and the new challenges in the wake of the pandemic.
In budget 2022 we made new investments to expand existing programs. Steps were also taken to accelerate the rollout of certain programs. We have also introduced new initiatives to tackle the issue of housing affordability from all angles. More recently, the government proposed new measures in budget 2023 to continue these efforts.
I would like to use my time today to talk about a new initiative that will be launched this summer, the housing accelerator fund. This $4-billion fund will provide money to local governments to encourage them to improve their housing approval and construction processes. This will make it possible to build more housing faster.
Our government has had discussions with mayors and local leaders across the country. They told us that they face obstacles that they still do not have the financial capacity to overcome. Whether it is housing-related infrastructure, outdated permitting systems, the introduction of inclusive zoning or the promotion of public transit-oriented housing projects, the obstacles they face are real.
Projects to create new housing are often delayed at the municipal level. That is a very significant problem. For that reason, our government worked with all levels of government and the housing sector to find a real solution. The housing accelerator fund will help local governments resolve these problems by supporting measures to reduce red tape, delays and other obstacles to the construction of new housing. The fund will help expedite the supply of housing across Canada. We anticipate the creation of 100,000 net new housing units by the time the initiative ends in 2026-27.
Even better, the positive impact of the measures being put in place will be felt for many years to come. Because we are investing in systemic changes, the impact of the activities that this fund will support will be felt beyond the duration of the fund itself. These activities will continue to promote the construction of more new housing, including affordable housing, in the long term.
The goal is not just to build more housing. This new initiative seeks to build a more effective housing system. It will encourage the creation of inclusive and equitable communities that are resilient to climate change and favour diversity.
A lot of work has been done across the country since we launched the national housing strategy in 2017. Our government's investments are making a difference. They are creating much‑needed housing and giving vulnerable people the support they need to remain housed and build a better future for themselves. Through the housing accelerator fund, our government is pleased to expand these efforts even further. By investing in promoting affordable housing, the government is contributing to establishing stronger communities, creating jobs and growing the middle class, all while aiming to end chronic homelessness and offering help to the most vulnerable among us.
There is still a lot more work to be done to make housing more affordable in Canada, and we cannot do it alone. That is why we plan to continue working with our partners, meaning the provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous communities, non-profit organizations and the private sector, to build the housing that Canadians need. By working together, we can ensure that everyone in Canada has a safe, affordable home.
In conclusion, I hope my remarks have helped make the circumstances surrounding this new initiative and its general parameters clearer for everyone. More details about the housing accelerator fund are available on the CMHC website.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to split my time with my friend and colleague, the member for .
I want to take a step back, because I think this debate is about much more than housing.
The central promise of Canada has always been that it does not matter where a person has been but rather where a person is going, and it does not matter who a person is but what a person can do, and that a person can be better off than the people who came before them if they worked hard and dreamt big. This is the reason millions of immigrants have chosen to come to our nation's shore from places all around the world. It is the reason Canada is a place of inspiration for people from all over the globe. It is the reason our young people have always looked ahead to a future of hope instead of fear. They knew that Canada was a place of endless opportunity where the only limit on a person's success was how high they could set their aspirations.
That was certainly true for my own parents who came here from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and worked hard for a better life for their children. It is a testament to the power of our country that, in one generation, someone like me from my family can go from a front seat of a taxi to the front row of Parliament.
Young people, immigrants, people from all walks of life are doing exactly the same thing today. Their work ethic, passion and drive remain the same, but something has changed. Despite doing everything right, despite doing everything we have asked of them, saving money, going to school, getting a job, they are falling further and further behind, and that dream is slipping away. All we have to do is go back to any one of the 338 ridings represented by members of Parliament in this place to know that is true.
When the promise of a better life, new opportunities and bright horizons is no longer a guarantee, then something is broken in Canada, and now everybody knows it. There are many reasons why Conservatives and people from all over the country feel that way: from our broken ethics laws from the other side, to our bail system, to our eye-popping national debt. However, the embarrassing failure of this government to act to ensure housing affordability and availability for Canadians is one of the biggest failures of this generation.
To afford the average home in Toronto, a person needs to make over $207,000 a year. However, the median income in Toronto is not that. It means that home ownership is nearly impossible for anybody to attain, not to mention recently arrived immigrants who cannot work in their professions because of government gatekeeping and red tape, students working part-time trying to complete their studies or single parents just trying to make ends meet. For the lucky few who can afford a down payment on a home, the people who thought they would make it out of the woods, well, they are no better off either, because all across the country interest rate hikes caused by this reckless spending are sending mortgage bills through the roof.
In 2015, when the Liberals first formed government, the average monthly mortgage payment in Canada was $1,268. After eight years, it is nearly $3,000. It has more than doubled, but our wages and our productivity have stagnated.
The Royal Bank now estimates that 62.7% of household income is needed to cover home ownership costs. That is the worst on record. It is unattainable. What does that mean? Well, we only need to look around to see that 1.5 million Canadians are at a food bank in a single month in this country. People are cutting back and skipping meals, because they need to save more money just to keep their homes. There is unprecedented financial anxiety and strain. In fact, 45% of variable mortgage rate holders have already said that they would have to sell their homes in nine months or less. That is not to mention, of course, nine out of 10 young Canadians who do not believe that they will ever own a home in this country.
I was always told that if I could not afford a home, I should rent a property until I could afford to buy something on my own. I am sure many people were told the same thing. However, even rentals are out of reach. In just one year, the average rent in Canada's three largest cities went up by 20% and, on average, grew by 10%.
In 2015, a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto cost just over $1,100. It is now over $2,300. It has more than double. The Liberals have doubled housing prices, doubled mortgage payments and doubled the cost of rent. If people cannot afford to buy a home, if they cannot afford to pay rent or do anything else, what the hell are they supposed to do? Where are they going to live?
The Liberals say that they care. They want to talk about their famous quote “the middle class and those working hard to join it”, but we have to ask if these are the results of a government that is looking out for people in need. Who is benefiting from the cost of living crisis? Is it ordinary people who cannot even find a place to live or is it those who already have properties, investments and assets in our biggest cities? This is Canada. It is a G7 country. This is unacceptable and everybody here should agree.
Is this really the best we can do? That is the question for this debate. The Liberals say yes. They say that Canadians should be grateful, that Canadians have never had it so good. They say that making do with less, like cancelling a Disney+ subscription or cutting back a little, is the only thing they have to do to solve all their problems, and thank goodness they are here taking care of Canadians. The problem is that Canadians who are facing the crisis do not exactly agree. In fact, many of them do not agree. It will soon be a majority of them who do not agree.
The Conservatives say no. We understand that people across the country understand this too, because it is obvious now. The jig is up. Things are not okay in our country and it is time we did better. We can do more to help families achieve the dream of home ownership. We can do more to help young people achieve the dream of home ownership. We can do more to help new Canadians, students and people with lower incomes get by. We can do more to make Canada once again a place where there is hope for the future, where people are optimistic that they will do better than the generation that came before them.
How do we do that? We do that by fixing what the Liberals broke. We do that by removing the big-city gatekeepers, the bureaucrats and those who are keeping housing from being developed. They are keeping Canadians away from their dream of home ownership. We do it by using the power of the federal government, not to obstruct but to empower. We need to empower and incentivize municipalities to build better places for people to live, like high-density housing near transit so they can take the train or bus to work or school.
In British Columbia, people can get a permit to sell cocaine faster than they can get a permit to build a home. That is the reality in Canada today and that is shameful.
We do this by also supporting towns and cities that actually get things done, not those who talk, or study, or plan like the government does right now or make Instagram announcements of more money. In fact, the government has spent the most money to fail, and failed expensively.
This is for those who actually put shovels in the ground and build for the next generation. We do that by doing our part too, by selling the underutilized government buildings that can be turned into affordable housing. The Liberals even agree with this, because a resolution at their upcoming policy convention this week says that they should sell 30% of its building and turn them into housing. Even their supporters get it. Their most die-hard supporters have put that idea forward. When will the Liberals listen?
We do it by addressing the other issues that impact housing affordability, like the cost of essentials such as the cost of gas, groceries and home heating. They have all gone up under the government. We do it by working to bring back well-paying jobs to Canada, by making a government that actually works. In today’s Canada, it often feels like hope is lost, like our best days are behind us.
We know the Liberals do not have a plan. We know that the has spent more money to achieve less than all of his predecessors combined. It is even worse. The Liberals tell us just to accept it as it is.
We do know better is possible. That is the Liberal slogan, but it will be our action. We know that Canadians are strong, we know that they are resilient and we know that this is the best country on earth. It is time for a government that also knows that too. It is time for a Conservative government and Canadians will be better for it.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to discuss the motion we are moving today to call on the government to make renting more affordable and make access to first-time home ownership easier. This is something that the government does not seem to be too concerned about. Who pays the price at the end of the day? It is Canadians yet again.
After eight years of this , things are not looking very rosy for Canada. We are experiencing the worst inflation in 40 years. Grocery prices are spiking, and so is the cost of housing and homes. Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. They have to choose between food, clothing and shelter. Workers are bringing home a paycheque that is worth less because everything goes to taxes. With the little that is left, they have to pay for groceries that keep going up in price. They have to pay for their car, and gas prices keep climbing. They have to pay for clothing and housing as well. It should come as no surprise that people are at the end of their rope.
I want to remind the House what constitute basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. Having a roof over one's head should not be a luxury. It is a basic and fundamental need. In an industrialized country like ours, no one should have to worry about not having access to affordable housing or a home. It is unacceptable and inconceivable that people have to sleep in their parents' basement because they have no money.
We are talking about hard-working, dedicated people who have done everything they have been told to do, but still find themselves having to live with their parents because mortgages and housing prices have skyrocketed under this Prime Minister. In fact, mortgage and rent prices have doubled since this Prime Minister has been in office.
When the Liberals took office, the average monthly payment for a new home was $1,400. Today, it is over $3,000. Renting is no better. In 2015, the average rent in Canada for a one-bedroom apartment was $973. Today, the average price is $1,760. Finding a place to live in Canada has become very difficult for both renters and owners.
Canadians can simply no longer afford to keep this Prime Minister with his inflationary spending in office. The Prime Minister does not like taking responsibility. We have seen that in the past. This is not the first time he has blamed everyone else for his incompetence and bad policies, as well as his bad decisions. Sometimes we wonder what the Prime Minister's real role is because, to hear him speak, he controls very little in this country.
That is the case with the current housing crisis. He blames the rising rents on a global phenomenon, but it is not true. Statistics show the opposite. The vast majority of countries do not have a housing crisis like we do in Canada. The average house in Canada now costs twice as much as in the United States. How can that be? Despite having a population 10 times that of Canada and less land, the United States does not have the same housing crisis as Canada.
Let us compare Toronto and Vancouver. We have always known that rent is expensive in those two major cities. That is not new, except that the situation is going from bad to worse. In a new ranking of the most unaffordable cities in the world, Vancouver is third and Toronto is 10th. New York and London are ranked lower. That is incredible.
Once again, the Liberals refuse to take responsibility for the current housing crisis in Canada. We are in a real crisis. Nine out of 10 Canadians have given up on the idea of buying their first home. We are talking about an entire generation that cannot imagine being able to buy a home to raise a family, all because of this government's inflationary spending and taxing.
Years of bad policies have left us with a housing shortage. We have land to build housing, but it is taking too long to get the buildings built. The Liberals have pumped billions of dollars in federal subsidies into the big cities, but this has not resulted in more new builds or enough affordable housing. It appears to be a pattern with these Liberals. They turn on the money tap, but nothing gets any better. In fact, the financial situation of Canadians is getting worse.
Another point that I would like to make involves the down payment needed to buy a property. As members know, it was already taking people many months or even years to save up for the dreaded down payment. After eight years under a Liberal government, that down payment has doubled. The minimum down payment for an average house in Canada went from $22,000 to $45,000. The cost of housing has doubled, so of course the down payment has also doubled.
In short, Canadians have less money in their pockets to meet their basic needs. They do not have any wiggle room, but now they have to save twice as much for a down payment. That clearly does not make any sense.
When I talk about affordable housing, I think about a woman in my riding named Martine. She came to see me last week. Martine works as a cashier in a pharmacy. She lives in a decent home with her 12-year-old daughter. She has always lived modestly, but she and her daughter have always had everything they needed. Now, with inflation, that is no longer the case. She came to see me in tears saying that she could no longer make ends meet. Groceries and gas cost too much, and her rent just went up. Because she is unable to afford her rent, she is going to have to move into subsidized housing if she meets the criteria, but even that will be difficult because of a lack of availability.
I hear stories like Martine's every week. I see my constituents going into debt to cover their basic needs while the Liberals are off spending taxpayers' money. Go tell Martine, who has to choose between food and clothing, that her money is being thrown out the window, that the Liberals are spending to excess without even making Canadians' lives better.
This opposition day allows me to highlight a real problem in this country. The housing shortage and every problem that stems from it deserves a day of debate, a day of sharing ideas to force the Liberals to change their policies, which are not helping Canadians in any way whatsoever. After eight years, it is obvious.
This day also allows us to give Canadians a sense of what Canada would look like under the leadership of the . A Conservative government will bring back common sense, in other words, homes and housing that Canadians can afford, by removing the gatekeepers to free up land and speed up building permits. We will stop the flow of infrastructure funding to municipalities that block new home construction, and we will give construction bonuses to cities that quickly give the green light to builders so that they can provide affordable housing. It is time Canadians got to enjoy a standard of living befitting a country such as ours. It is common sense.
Mr. Speaker, today I am going to share my speaking time with my hon. colleague from .
I have to admit it, I love opposition days. We get to debate issues and policies from the opposition's point of view.
It is too bad that the member for did not win the Conservative Party leadership race, because even though I do not agree with his ideas, they are a lot more sensible than the ideas of the member for . We would be better off if his party supported this member's brand of conservatism.
I believe in some parts of his motion, but I see weaknesses too. First off, provision (a) mentions “imposing clawbacks on municipalities who delay new home construction”. What would constitute a reasonable delay? Would it be based on decisions about public safety, related to drainage, for example?
That is important because it is easy to say that there are unreasonable delays by municipalities. What standard do we set for that? How do we look at smaller municipalities and what their capacities are to deliver reasonable timelines for developers versus larger cities?
I have before me an example from Huntsville of drainage work that delayed Sabrina Park attainable home construction. This is in the member opposite's riding, and he is the housing critic for the Conservative Party. The project was delayed for a year because of drainage that had to be reditched and repurposed because of concerns from the municipality.
Is the member for suggesting that the Government of Canada should claw back some of the money that we would be sending for infrastructure after those types of delays, or not? That is a question that needs to be asked and to be figured out. It is easy to talk about this in principle, but what does the member actually mean by a reasonable delay.
An hon. member: He wants to add gatekeepers.
Mr. Kody Blois: Who are these gatekeepers? We have heard that during the debate. I would like to see the Conservative Party start to name the individuals in question. I am not against the principle of trying to reduce red tape whatsoever, but the principle of how we go about this has to be a little more nuanced than what the Conservative Party is throwing forward right now.
The next part on provision (a) is allocating infrastructure dollars to municipalities based on housing built. Does the town of Kentville, which might build 25 houses a year, have a reasonable standard? Where do we go? Is it based on a percentage? If the City of Toronto builds 500, is that a reasonable standard? Who determines this? With the different nuances and sizes of municipalities across the country, how would we even go about this?
What about municipalities that are doing a good job and are above the average? Let us say one of the standards was to try to give municipalities money, as is in this motion, on the basis of the success of building new houses. If a municipality was a laggard, we would give more money to it versus municipalities that had been doing a good job, which might not be able to demonstrably show they are improving their housing stock in the same fashion because they were doing a good job before. Is that really the position of the Conservative Party right now? I have my concerns.
The Conservatives are essentially suggesting that, if there is local leadership, and that is in their view, not ours, but I will speak for them, they think we should punish Canadians where local leadership is not being lived up to and we should somehow cut federal infrastructure support to those communities. Again, I want to know who they think has poor leadership at the local level so I can know whether or not they are suggesting that the Government of Canada should be pulling back infrastructure dollars in my community. I would certainly like to know where they stand, other than just creating these arbitrary words about gatekeepers and creating these villains without naming who they are. Let us pull back the mask and see who we are talking about.
The provincial governments are in the best position to issue construction permits, considering their constitutional authority over municipalities. However, they must use this authority in a reasonable manner.
I do think the provincial governments, because of their constitutional relationship, are better arbiters of being able to help intervene, where necessary, in a reasonable fashion.