Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of the people of Parry Sound—Muskoka to talk about the issues that matter to them. Obviously, the affordability of life is a key issue in Parry Sound—Muskoka. Trying to find a home is a big issue. Housing is probably the number one issue in Parry Sound—Muskoka. It is not just the big cities of Toronto and Vancouver where the tent cities are growing; it is in small cities and small rural communities as well. People cannot find homes to live in.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to a business owner in Huntsville who had just hired a new welder. He was excited about this, but that welder quit a few weeks later because he simply could not find a place to live in Huntsville within his budget. It is a story I hear over and over again. People are making the right choices. They get a good education, work hard and pay their bills, yet because of the housing crisis, they struggle to put a roof over their heads in the places they want to be and need to be. Yes, in case there is any question, it is a crisis.
Motion No. 59 recognizes the need for special consideration for some of the most vulnerable in our society, individuals with non-visible disabilities. It calls on the government to work with stakeholders to improve access. Conservatives support this, and we do so happily, but with some cause for hesitation because we have watched the government's record for eight years, particularly when it comes to housing. The housing situation, after eight years under the government, is now worse than ever. House prices have doubled and rent has doubled. After eight years of the government and the promise of a transformational national housing strategy, the housing situation in Canada has never been worse.
The CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Romy Bowers, had this to say at the Affordable Housing Summit hosted by Scotiabank:
Things are at a crisis point for the middle class, but also particularly for vulnerable Canadians. Inflation is still not under control, the Bank of Canada is increasing interest rates and many economists are forecasting a modest recession for the first half of 2023.
Many households, especially first-time buyers, are taking on debt that is excessive. That’s a real concern, especially during an economic downturn because when people are highly leveraged, it creates a lot of instability in the economy, but also pain for households.
I do not know why the Minister of Housing will not acknowledge what his officials seem to acknowledge, that there is a crisis. They even acknowledge that inflation is still out of control and interest rates continue to rise. Of course, this has real-life consequences for Canadians. High interest rates, made worse by Liberal inflationary borrowing, mean that too many Canadians are paying higher mortgages but not paying down any of the debt. Many Canadians going to renew their mortgages this summer or fall may find out they cannot afford their houses anymore.
That is not how it is supposed to work. That is not the sunny ways that Canadians were promised. That is not a transformational housing policy. Canadians were promised that, if they work hard, go to school, get an education and pay their bills, they will get ahead, but that is not what is happening. Too many Canadians cannot afford to get into homes.
Now we have a government that has announced a housing accelerator fund. The Minister of Housing seems to have figured out that it is a supply issue. He said, in fact, “We recognize that the key to increasing housing affordability is to boost the supply of homes available to Canadians.” That is great after eight years. For eight years now, the government has been subsidizing demand with $500 rent subsidy cheques and a savings account that actually, for first-time homebuyers, make things more expensive. All of this borrowing drives historic inflation and historic interest rates, which puts homes further and further away for Canadians.
The accelerator fund is supposed to create 100,000 new units for the cool price tag of $4 billion. Let us put that into context. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says that Canada needs 5.8 million new housing units by 2030 to make homes affordable again. If we spread 100,000 units across this entire country, it is a very tiny drop in what I see as an ocean-sized bucket, so forgive me if I find this program just a little insulting. How can we expect the government to get this right when it has had eight years and has not gotten it right yet?
When NIMBY local councillors here in Ottawa blocked 80 new units from being built, the minister did not lift a finger. He does not want to take on the NIMBYs and he does not want to challenge municipalities. He does not want to hold them accountable either. He may think touring the country and announcing a few dozen units here and a few dozen units there is solving the problem, but Canadians know the truth. It is not.
Now we are to trust the new transformational housing plan, but of course the Liberals' first one made things worse, and they are already failing Canadians who have disabilities when it comes to housing.
I will give an example from Parry Sound—Muskoka. Community Living South Muskoka supports over 400 individuals and their families living with developmental disabilities in the south end of Muskoka. It dreamed of building a housing complex to support families, to support these folks, with wraparound supports. It was going to put a roof over their heads and help them live healthy, active and engaged lives in the community.
It had a beautiful piece of property and had the drawings done. It had the municipality on board, and the zoning was done. It had the District of Muskoka's support and even had private support. Then it got to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the endless applications, the delays and the red tape. It gave up. It quit and sold the land. It had a dream of helping Canadians living in south Muskoka with development disabilities, and the bureaucracy crushed it because the organization just could not get through the quagmire of bureaucracy.
Covenant House Vancouver built a beautiful new building. It received $12 million from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It raised a lot of money privately. It had the support of the local municipality, private donations and even a celebrity endorsement from Ryan Reynolds. Of course, it cost it $1 million in consulting fees to get $12 million from the CMHC. Imagine that, for an organization like Covenant House Vancouver, with all those resources, a prime ministerial endorsement and a celebrity endorsement, it still cost it $1 million. There is no hope for small community organizations like Community Living.
Health care workers are living in tents. Students are living in homeless shelters. It costs $2,500 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto. Government delays, permits and red tape add over $600,000 to every single residential housing unit in the city of Vancouver. We have the lowest number of homes in the G7. Nine out of 10 young people who do not own a home in this country believe they never will.
In 2022, on average, three people suffering from homelessness died every week in the city of Toronto. We have a housing minister who is unwilling to call this what it is, a crisis.
Conservatives understand what is going on. We understand it is a crisis. We do not accept the status quo, because it is a failure. We do not accept the NIMBY city councillors who reject more housing. We do not accept young people being locked out of home ownership.
Conservatives reject the status quo. We embrace a pro-housing agenda, and we will deliver housing for all Canadians by leveraging federal funding to cities and holding them accountable to get the job done. We will incentivize the private sector by removing roadblocks that delay construction. We will push to densify our communities with the infrastructure dollars to support making that happen.
The Conservative plan provides the incentive and the accountability for municipalities to get the job done. We will withhold federal cheques to municipalities that give in to the NIMBYs and we will provide housing bonuses for cities that are committed and dedicated to streamlining approvals and boosting home building.
Conservatives say, “Yes, in my backyard.” Conservatives say yes to building more homes faster. Conservatives say, “We will bring it home.”