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Susan McGee
View Susan McGee Profile
Susan McGee
2020-08-17 15:05
Thank you very much, and thanks for the introduction.
I am the chief executive officer for Homeward Trust. We are a community-based organization utilizing a system-planning approach to ending homelessness in our community of Edmonton. We are the local entity supporting the implementation of Reaching Home, and we have actively supported the evolution of Canada's national housing and homelessness strategies. I was very privileged and fortunate to sit on the advisory committee on homelessness, chaired at the time by Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan, and I currently sit on a number of national committees.
I'm joined today by Giri, our chief strategic officer. I expect there will be some questions that he would be better at answering than I would be. We want to allow time for that.
We and our partner agencies have been recognized nationally and internationally for our collective efforts to end homelessness, housing nearly 11,000 people since the beginning of our Housing First program in 2009. Our organization brings together funding from all orders of government to support service providers, indigenous communities and government partners in Edmonton to collectively plan, act on and monitor our solutions to end homelessness in our community.
We're grateful for the opportunity to speak today about the Government of Canada's response to COVID-19 and what is needed to ensure that vulnerable and homeless Canadians are supported and protected on the long road ahead.
It has been just six months since COVID-19, and the risks it presents to our community members have required a complete rethinking of our priorities and programs. This has been an intense and exhausting effort, but one that we can be proud of and that wouldn't have been possible without the quick mobilization of resources from municipalities and provinces and, indeed, the federal government.
For Edmonton's homeless response, Reaching Home funding played a critical role. Funding was committed early, processes were accelerated, and both local organizations and federal program staff were empowered to make necessary decisions, building on existing accountable relationships. For many of us involved, the lasting reflection is that we can and should continue to respond that way by treating homelessness as the national emergency it is in any situation.
Homeward Trust is a strong supporter of Recovery for All and the six-point plan already presented to government by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, and we support other national organizations such as the CHRA and its advocacy of greater investments in affordable housing, specifically indigenous-led housing investments.
Rather than reiterate those well-considered positions, we will focus on what we consider to be critical and immediate steps to support their successful implementation.
First is that our country requires a sustained investment to make sure that communities' Herculean achievements over the last six months, which has been a sprint, have the endurance for the marathon that lies ahead. With no commitment on the horizon, planning has ceased and programs are being wound down, while individuals are exposed to the same health and safety risks that we experienced in March from the beginning.
Second is that all orders of government focus efforts not only on protecting vulnerable Canadians from the pandemic but also on addressing the many systemic issues that have made people vulnerable to homelessness in the first place. The pandemic has laid bare these system failures, and we can't unsee what we have seen.
Last is that the government reinforce communities in leading this response in a coordinated system-planning approach, bringing together the various cross-systems and interjurisdictional roles that, operating independently, risk recreating the system failures we are working so hard to address.
On the first point of sustained investment, there is no question that all orders of government recognize that we are many months away, if not years away, from this pandemic's being completely behind us. There are more waves on the horizon and, perhaps most critically, large numbers of people losing their jobs and families in crisis. They are losing their homes and their mental health is being significantly affected. We've never experienced anything like the initial pandemic response before, and there is no precedent, certainly in our lifetime, for the economic and fiscal fissures that are already forming.
Initial investments were made quickly, and we were fortunate to have strong program infrastructure and partners to work with to activate those resources.
In Edmonton, our response prioritized mobilizing critical services in an alternate location, as agencies, public spaces, and other locations that often provided respite for homeless individuals closed. We brought in our coordinated access and Housing First program with additional rapid rehousing and diversion efforts, and included new partners and prevention initiatives by providing immediate funding to address short-term needs. We were able to secure and headlease a hotel to provide bridge housing, which has played an important role in our community's response in housing over 700 people to date since April.
In the absence of sustained funding, we are faced with having to contract all of those efforts at a time when we are seeing significant increases in homelessness and encampments on a scale not seen in Edmonton since 2007. We know that housing is a solution to homelessness, and we have seen the direct health risks to those without a home. We cannot build our way out of the situation fast enough, but we can ensure that our pandemic response results in long-term permanent solutions if program funding is sustained and targeted. There is a role for all governments and charitable funders in supporting our efforts, but it is important to recognize that community-based providers are reeling from lost fundraising revenue and staff capacity and will have difficulty dealing with the onslaught of needs, let alone the existing demands. It is imperative that the federal government lead with a commitment now.
Reaching Home has incorporated many important changes in community planning approaches, emphasizing evidence-based models, clear accountabilities and system-wide engagement. This means having the infrastructure to enable a culture of knowledge-driven decision-making so that our interventions can be targeted, evaluated and corrected continually, and taxpayers can be confident that public dollars are achieving the results they'd expect. As such, I have great confidence that continued investments through Reaching Home will have the greatest immediate impact.
This brings me to my second point: that the pandemic response has to address the foundational issues that contribute to poverty and homelessness, especially those that are institutional in nature. The homeless population is dynamic. There are no clean boundaries between people who use shelters, people who sleep rough or in encampments, and people who are unstably housed and people who are living with friends and family.
With rising unemployment, bankruptcies and evictions, people who faced housing insecurity before the pandemic will become homeless. Addiction and mental health issues are increasing rapidly and threatening the ability of families and individuals to stay resilient, yet for homeless and vulnerable populations, various systems and government departments get involved in a way that creates a patchwork of responses, with huge gaps and blind spots and far too many unmet needs. Their roles are often defined by narrow mandates and cost containment, without a holistic sense of how all their parts interact—and they don't.
An effective pandemic response for the homeless population has to incorporate commitments to fix the underlying systemic problems that create and sustain homelessness. There may not seem to be an obvious first step to address this issue. Indeed, governments have spent years in system-planning meetings trying to turn the Titanic in an inch of water. However, during the pandemic we have seen health authorities actively participating in local efforts, and they have been required to address the specific risks that homeless community members are exposed to. The pandemic has highlighted how quickly we can adjust how we work together when the urgency and the will are there.
This leads to my final point, which is about the importance of community-based leadership in the pandemic response.
In March, community organizations were navigating shifting and sometimes conflicting authorities in the federal government, provincial ministries, health authorities and local governments. Siloed internal command structures and interjurisdictional confusion can threaten an active, effective and comprehensive pandemic response. One of our key roles as community entities and system-planner organizations is to transcend and bridge across these chasms so that we can enable communities to do what needs to be done. In many ways, governments and systems need to take a back seat to let communities lead the way. They have the knowledge, experience and relationships to ensure that we are doing what is best for vulnerable people. This means empowering and resourcing communities to enable community-level leadership and governance. It also means building the necessary infrastructure so that community partners can implement actions collectively and leverage resources and strengths across the board without having to manoeuvre between funding and institutional roles.
Reaching Home clearly embraces the role of local leadership, and as such has been able to deploy resources quickly during this time, with demonstrated impacts. While other investments are considered, whether to support housing developments or mitigate housing loss, we strongly recommend reinforcing community-level leadership in coordinating that deployment of those resources.
In summary, for an effective pandemic response, the federal government needs to commit to supporting community-based leadership with funding and policies that can address two public health emergencies: the recent and ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the long-standing institutional causes of homelessness. Continuing investments by the federal government are the only way to ensure that community efforts and achievements over the past six months are sustained and that we don't regress in our ability to protect vulnerable people from the impacts of the pandemic in the long run.
A critical component of this is to accelerate efforts to realize an end to homelessness, including the six-point recovery plan put forward by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, and intentional engagement with provincial and municipal governments to support communities in making this happen by transforming systems so that they facilitate their work instead of hindering it.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee today, and we are certainly happy to answer any questions.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
To be clear here, basic income works, but it works better when there's affordable housing attached to it. In other words, if there's a system to tie it to, then basic income goes further, works harder and provides more support for people.
Susan McGee
View Susan McGee Profile
Susan McGee
2020-08-17 15:38
It would be what we look to in terms of turning the lights on and in terms of capital and operating capital. Then we can bring supports to the individuals as they need in order to ensure they have the greatest opportunity for success.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's really nice to see all of my colleagues on the HUMA committee. My first questions are for Ms. McGee.
During this unprecedented time in history, as we've seen in other unprecedented times in history, critical social programs that have been created have collectively benefited all Canadians. There was, for example, employment insurance. I believe that now is a time in history when we have a chance to restructure our economy in a way that is more just and equitable for all. I recently introduced motion 46 in support of a guaranteed livable basic income that would be in addition to all current and future government and social programs, including accessible affordable social housing. How do you think a guaranteed annual livable income in Canada could help realize our international legal obligations to ensure the human right to housing?
Susan McGee
View Susan McGee Profile
Susan McGee
2020-08-17 15:48
We have supported, certainly within the Canadian Alliance strategy, the value of a livable income. I know there's a lot of analysis and there are more discussions to be had about that. The pandemic really is a convergence of different groups and different levels of need. As much as most individuals we support who are currently living rough are a day-to-day emergency concern, we look at the horizon of the next few months and we know that many more people will come into and experience homelessness perhaps for the first time. They will come into a system that right now is quite eroded in its ability to respond through front-line social agencies, the civil society if you will, but also through government programs because individuals have really tenuous housing circumstances and what the next few months will bring is very difficult to predict and we're kind of guessing. What we do know, however, is that we're not ready for it.
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2020-08-17 16:03
I also want to pick up on something that MP Vaughan was talking about, which was money flowing from the province and maybe some of the concerns there. Certainly in some provinces, they're not getting the funds necessary within the right time frame.
Is building new housing the answer to this? Is that really the bottom line of what we need to do?
Susan McGee
View Susan McGee Profile
Susan McGee
2020-08-17 16:03
We definitely need more product that is dedicated in perpetuity to the community, which is our social housing and community housing stock. We absolutely do. We also need processes to ensure that people access that and that they are prioritized. Honestly a fear that I think many have in the sector is that we build new housing, but then in the near term it isn't prioritized for the people it was built for.
Our system needs to ensure that this dedication of capital goes to the need it was intended to serve. The programs we work with right now try to message that consistently. We have “haves” and “have-nots”. We have have-nots amongst the haves and have-nots, and typically, the system will tend to start to house people who are less expensive to serve and who create less overhead. Our systems need to be designed so that we ensure that the significant capital and efforts that we put in go to the people who need them.
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:07
As mentioned, my name is Marie-José Corriveau. I represent the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a group that was created 41 years ago. It is made up of 140 organizations from across Quebec that are concerned about poverty alleviation and housing rights. FRAPRU primarily calls on higher governments in order to advance the right to housing and access to social housing.
In terms of the government response to the pandemic, FRAPRU is grateful to the federal government for quickly setting up the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which has enabled households to meet their basic needs, such as food and housing. However, FRAPRU is disappointed, even shocked, by the disproportionate amount of money made available to the wealthiest versus to the poorest and most vulnerable households to get through the health crisis. In terms of housing, just like after the 2008 economic crisis, Canada decided to primarily help banks, insurance companies and property owners, leaving tenants to fend for themselves. We are coming out of these last few months with an increased sense of injustice.
Moreover, the CERB failed to prevent 3,000 Quebec households from having to resort to the Quebec program set up to help tenants unable to pay their rent after losing their jobs and suffering drastic cuts to their incomes. The next few months will be worrisome for many of them, as they will have to pay back loans without necessarily having found a job by that time.
However, one good thing about the pandemic is that it has reminded us of the close and incontrovertible connection between the right to housing and the right to health, and of the fact that housing is one of the main determinants of health. The lockdown measures imposed to minimize the risks of the spread of the coronavirus have not been experienced by everyone in the same way.
How can you be in lockdown when you just don't have housing? How can you stay locked down in a house that is too small, unhealthy or suffocating because of successive heat waves? How can you stay healthy when rent takes up an inordinate part of the family budget to the detriment of food, medication and other necessities, such as a mask or the Internet? How do you cope in times of lockdown when you depend on community resources for food, clothing and transportation on a daily basis, but those community resources have to cut back on their activities to comply with the rules of physical distancing?
For too many households, the pandemic is yet another crisis in a life fraught with peril. Already, as of the 2016 census, 1.7 million Canadian households were in core housing need—that is, living in housing that is substandard, too small or too expensive. The overwhelming majority of them are poor renters. In Quebec, the approximately 244,120 tenant households in core housing need had a median income of only $17,612 for all of 2015.
Since the last census, things have become worse. A housing shortage is spreading and taking root in Quebec's major cities, as in several other Canadian provinces. Here, the vacancy rate for rental housing is only 1.8%, and it is only 1.5% in the census metropolitan areas of Montreal and Gatineau. This represents half of the 3% threshold that is supposed to guarantee a balance between landlords and tenants. In Gatineau, the average market rent increased by 10% between 2018 and 2019, in a single year.
The impacts are devastating and will unfortunately last. Many tenants are under undue pressure to accept unjustified rent increases. On the ground, it has been observed that the rents charged for rental units this spring were well above the average current price. However, as the shortage seems to want to last, the concern is that this inflationary trend will continue. Among the hundreds of Quebec households who were unable to find new housing and who found themselves homeless last month, in July, many had been repossessed or “renovicted” because their landlords were trying to get rid of them, especially if they were long-term tenants and paying low rent.
Searching for housing in the midst of the pandemic is also problematic, if not impossible, for poor households that do not have access to the Internet because they do not have the equipment, because the system is too expensive or because the service is simply not available in their areas. Many, including families, racialized people and the poor, have also been discriminated against because of their condition, regardless of their credit or rent payment history, without any truly effective recourse to defend themselves. The shortage is literally pushing households to the brink of homelessness in the midst of a pandemic.
Finally, let's remember that, too often, to find new housing, the households thus displaced have had to leave their neighbourhood, their city, or even their region, thereby losing their family and community support network.
Under those circumstances, FRAPRU hoped that the federal government would not only quickly review the programs to help the poorly housed, but that it would also invest more in social housing as part of the national housing strategy. To date, it has done neither of those things.
Yet in 2017, when the national housing strategy was adopted, the government also identified households in core housing need. However, the resources announced to assist them came with serious gaps, making those measures ineffective. FRAPRU then identified and denounced those problems. If you wish, I can give you some examples.
Since the pandemic was declared, the unemployment rate has soared. Now, a second wave is looming, as well as a recession, or even an economic crisis. Governments are investing massively to support different parts of the economy. FRAPRU is asking them to relaunch a major social housing project and to adequately finance the refurbishment of all those units already built. So far, Ottawa's response has been extremely disappointing and detrimental to what is to come.
Beyond the health and economic crises, we believe that the government has a duty to protect the poorest and most poorly housed from the environmental crises that are now certain to follow. To do so, it must stop procrastinating and start investing again in social, non-profit and non-market housing. To fund the effort, the government has no shortage of resources. Here are a few examples. It can reduce its investments in fossil fuels. It can review its tax system, withdraw the tax benefits granted in recent decades to the wealthiest and restore a more progressive tax scale. It must also fight more seriously against tax evasion and tax avoidance. However, whatever avenues it chooses, it must better protect the most vulnerable, otherwise the political and economic damage will be disproportionate and the social fractures likely to be irreversible.
I hope I have stayed within the time limits.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Corriveau, I applaud you and FRAPRU. Thank you for being here and for your testimony.
I am very familiar with your organization in Quebec. The claims you are making today are in line with those you have been making for years.
Please tell me if my figures are accurate. I believe you said that, in July 2020 alone, 350 households were without housing. That would be the highest number since 2003. Also, if the community organizations did a count, it might be higher. If this is accurate, it does confirm that there is a shortage of what we may call social housing. A distinction could be made between community-based housing, low-income housing and affordable housing, but let's say there is a shortage of social housing. This is something you have been working on for years.
Other speakers have talked about the national housing strategy. As you know, an agreement was signed between the federal government and all the provinces except Quebec. For Quebec, the amount over the last three years could be between $1.4 billion and $1.7 billion, which is not insignificant.
In your opinion, if the money had been transferred unconditionally to Quebec, what difference would it have made to the dynamic?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:33
My hope is that the Government of Quebec would have been more generous in launching new programming for the development of social housing. It already had a first challenge to meet: it had decided to deliver some 15,000 social housing units that had already been in the program for about 10 years, but that had still not been delivered because the Quebec subsidy program had not been adapted to the new economic realities, particularly land prices and construction costs. I therefore dare to hope that, had it received money from the federal government, the Quebec government would have launched a new program.
That said, my main problem at the moment is that the federal government, while claiming that this is an area of provincial and territorial jurisdiction, has developed a series of funds that could be called programs. In so doing, it is taking the role of the provinces in the way they do things and solve problems, instead of giving them the financial resources they need to take action according to their own challenges and to what the communities want.
I think the federal government should do the right thing and be a funder. It should take full responsibility for all the low-income housing that it helped to bring about before 1994, of course. It should not only comply with the agreements, but also ensure that the supply is refurbished. After that, it should proceed with the transfers properly. My hope is that this would allow Quebec in particular to move things along more quickly. It must be said that in Quebec, social housing development has continued, but that is not the case in all the provinces at this time.
Let me come back to what I was saying earlier: we must entirely abandon the idea of entrusting the private sector with developing housing for families in core housing need. It's not true that the private sector will be able to develop the housing for them. It is impossible for them to pay for that kind of housing when their annual income is between $17,000 and $20,000. We have no choice but to look at non-profit housing and subsidized housing. In order to prevent this from being a complete waste of time or an unsustainable measure, it is important to have social housing that is not sold, but that is protected and properly maintained for future generations.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thanks very much.
Madame Corriveau, would you agree that if the federal government puts new dollars on the table for provinces, the provinces should not be allowed to cut provincial spending limits on housing? As we put money in the front door for the housing system, the Quebec government should be required not to take money out the back door so that it becomes a wash. Would you agree that's a reasonable request by the federal government?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:50
In terms of reducing their own contributions, yes, I quite agree. If the Government of Canada puts money on the table, it should come with conditions, as it has previously done in the past, after all. When I said that I did not want the federal government to create programs in place of the provinces and territories, that did not mean that I feel it should provide money without requiring some conditions.
The government should do everything in its power to have the right to housing acknowledged. It should also go back to proven strategies, such as developing social housing. In addition, it must make sure that the provinces do not use federal money to replace the budgets that they otherwise should be putting on the table.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Exactly, and in terms of new rent supplement programs, for example, the Canada housing benefit, which aims to subsidize rents for the very individuals you talked about, if the federal government has a program that requires cost-matching dollars from the provinces, should the provinces have to match the new program or should they be allowed to say that we're already doing that and, therefore, we don't have to add any of our new dollars?
Should provinces be brought into a stronger housing system with the federal authority, as long as it's provincially designed and delivered? Would you agree with that?
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:52
I am not sure I know what you mean by a stronger system. However, I do know that we have to consider housing allocation programs that the provinces already have and make sure that they are not withholding their cash. Quite the opposite, we need the amounts allocated to surpass the provinces' and territories' current objectives. At the moment, for example, in Quebec—
Marie-José Corriveau
View Marie-José Corriveau Profile
Marie-José Corriveau
2020-08-17 16:52
No. In fact, those objectives should even be enhanced.
As I understand it, in various areas, the federal government generally requires provinces and territories to fulfill certain conditions when they are allocated money, failing which, penalties can be imposed on other activities.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Right. For example, would it be a reasonable request by the federal government that it should be spent on rent supplements and should be new money?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
One of the comments that was posted on social media from End Homelessness St. John's says:
[W]e cannot go back to normal—[to] a normal where over 235,000 different Canadians every year are homeless; where 1.7 million households live in substandard or unaffordable housing; where people are at life threatening risk for no other reason than they are poor and don't have a place to call home.
Is this comment that was posted accurate?
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:41
Yes. Across the country, that's what the data is showing.
Emergency shelter usage includes over 235,000 Canadians on an annual basis. Several more, obviously, are living in substandard and dilapidated housing conditions and are under-housed and overcrowded and just don't necessarily meet the traditional view of what people might think of homelessness. They're living in unsafe conditions. Of course, what the pandemic has shown is that you need safe conditions to isolate in. That is often missing for our most vulnerable neighbours across the country.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
As part of the six-point plan, one of the components is to call for a major housing stimulus package in the recovery for the federal government to invest in. It's calling for maintaining the $157 million per year of additional funding, an expansion of the rural and remote stream to $50 million per year, and developing a new funding stream of $75 million to prevent homelessness for women, children and youth. That's as a baseline.
From that perspective, that would be one component of the six-point plan. Another component is a national guaranteed minimum income, which is an essential piece, because poverty is tied into it. I wonder if you can comment on these two specific recommendations.
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:42
Yes, absolutely. In my earlier comments, I mentioned the need for government across all levels, including the federal and provincial governments, to work closely with income support systems when addressing housing and homelessness strategies.
We've seen a lot of individuals who are unable to maintain housing in the private market because their income levels allocated for rent are simply not enough. That's the case here in St. John's, where we have a healthy vacancy rate. It's further exacerbated in larger urban areas. In rural areas, for example, in parts of Labrador, we see that housing is incredibly difficult to acquire and the affordability concerns there resemble something that you might see in Toronto or Vancouver.
We absolutely support the notion around the idea of implementation of these basic needs, basic income types of programs, that will ensure people have the affordability component of housing secure.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to apologize in advance. The audio and video of what's happening around me aren't really good right now, but I think if you can hear me I'm going to move forward.
I want to thank our presenters for doing a great job in their presentations. I have some questions.
As Mr. Beaudoin rightly pointed out in his opening remarks, our federal government entrenched our commitment to undertaking a human rights-based approach to housing policy in Canadian law, so the National Housing Strategy Act was introduced and passed in the last Parliament.
I'll start with you, Mr. Pawson, and then I'll go to Mr. Beaudoin. In your view, how has the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for a human rights-based federal housing strategy?
Doug Pawson
View Doug Pawson Profile
Doug Pawson
2020-06-19 14:53
I think the commitment made by the government to adopt housing as a human right is not just a symbolic gesture. It allows us to chart a path to ensure that folks who are experiencing homelessness or who may need to avail themselves of emergency shelter supports can be quickly moved into housing. To do that, we need more housing. Simply put, we need more housing and more supports embedded around it. This, to me, would ensure that housing as a human right can be actioned across Canada.
Jacques Beaudoin
View Jacques Beaudoin Profile
Jacques Beaudoin
2020-06-19 14:54
The crisis has really demonstrated the extent to which housing is a human right. It was a historic decision last year to enshrine this objective in an act of Parliament. We really saw in practice what that meant. All Canadians were asked to confine themselves, to respect emergency measures, to stay home. No one wanted this situation, and it was not desirable, but we could not have had a better demonstration of the fact that housing is a fundamental human right.
Having a home—where you can live in safety, where you're not overcrowded, where there are no families of five or six in one- or two-bedroom units, where the unit is big enough to meet your needs—allowed those who had access to that to respect containment. However, for those who did not have access to such a home, it was very difficult.
View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of the witnesses for being here.
I'll start with Mr. Perrault. In a report on the housing market that you did last month, you estimated that the rebound will be quick, partially because of a rebound in immigration.
I'm now wondering if you would change that prediction at all given the latest changes that CMHC has announced for tightening up of credit.
I might want to send that to Ms. Cooper, as well.
Jean-François Perrault
View Jean-François Perrault Profile
Jean-François Perrault
2020-06-18 16:33
No, we wouldn't change that. Our perspective on the changes by the CMHC is essentially that they're moving out of a market that is going to be serviced by the private sector providers. At the very margin, it might have an impact on housing market activity in the urban centres, but we don't think it's going to have a significant impact, as I said, because they're basically freeing up space for the private sector folks to go in. Whether that was the intention or not, I think that's what's going to happen.
The bigger issue in the housing market from our perspective is simply the supply-demand imbalance, which is that the housing market in Canada remains generally under-supplied. Population growth has been really strong. Because of COVID there's been a slowdown in construction activity, so these factors conspire, if you will, to put us in pretty good standing when we reopen and folks are more comfortable going back out.
That's part of what you're seeing, I think, in some of the housing market activity in June and May. There's a sense out there that folks need to jump on a property while they still can, because there still is a shortage, generally speaking.
Sherry Cooper
View Sherry Cooper Profile
Sherry Cooper
2020-06-18 16:35
I do. I think the immigration issue is a very important one for the economy as a whole, and certainly for the housing market specifically. Permanent residents in Canada are typically not welcome at the Canadian banks, particularly new Canadians. They are going through alternative lenders. They're borrowing money outside the country and they're also going into the private sector.
Our assessment is that the CMHC's changes will have very little impact.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
We floated the idea of a home energy retrofit program to help offset the demand on fuel for the economy of sustainable urban development. What role could your association play in more sustainable urban development?
Mary Van Buren
View Mary Van Buren Profile
Mary Van Buren
2020-06-05 12:43
We'd be happy to participate in any way we can.
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