Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre claims Canada's immigration system is 'broken' but fell short when asked if he'd reduce annual quotas amid the ongoing housing crisis.
Parliament is eyeing 500,000 new immigrants annually in 2025, further straining the housing market. Earlier this month, key interest rates rose to 5% — their highest level in 22 years.
On Tuesday, Poilievre appeared before reporters on Parliament Hill, slamming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "ideology" for setting ambitious immigration targets without securing affordable housing.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Statistics Canada's Municipal Land Use and Regulation Survey, they estimate Canada needs 3.5 million new units by 2030 for Canada to have affordable housing.
Canada's population grew by more than one million people last year — a record for the country — and 2.7% growth year-over-year compared to 2021.
As of June, Canada's population surpassed 40 million people, potentially reaching 50 million by 2040.
"Strong population growth from immigration is adding both demand and supply to the economy: newcomers are helping to ease the shortage of workers while also boosting consumer spending and adding to demand for housing," according to the Bank of Canada.
They flagged the unprecedented population growth for soaring housing prices, with supply failing to meet growing demand.
On Monday, Trudeau announced $64 million in funding to build and repair 214 homes in Hamilton, Ontario.
During the same press conference, he controversially said housing is not a "primary federal responsibility" but something they "can and must help with."
"That's funny because eight years ago, he promised he [would] lower housing costs," said Poilievre the following day.
"These things are federal, yet the federal prime minister claims he has nothing to do with it whatsoever."
Trudeau claimed Poilievre's housing plan only consists of fear-mongering Canadians and cutting programs. "His answer to everything is to cut and be angry."
Poilievre replied that Canadians would be angry with the federal government regardless of the cost of living issue.
The Tory leader urged the prime minister to take "less photo ops" and "more home building."
"It now takes 25 years in Canada's biggest city to save up for a down payment. It used to be, before Trudeau, 25 years was what it took to pay off a mortgage. Now it's what it takes to get a mortgage," he said.
The CMHC attributed the housing shortage to long approval times, rising building costs and burdensome regulations with longer timelines for approval. Toronto and Vancouver experienced the longest approval times in the country.
Poilievre added that rent in Canada hit an all-time high last month at $2,042 for the average unit.
"Slow permits mean higher prices. Higher prices mean Canadians can't afford to put a roof over their head," he told reporters in Vancouver on July 14.
"A Poilievre-led government will incentivize our cities to speed up and lower the cost of building permits to free up land so builders can build, build, build."
On Tuesday, PPC leader Max Bernier took to social media to provide an alternative vision of Canada's housing and immigration woes.
"No, we don't need to build 6 million houses. What we need is millions fewer immigrants, foreign workers and students, and refugees by 2030," he tweeted.
"We must focus on the well-being of Canadians first while you and Trudeau focus on bringing in millions of foreigners and competing for their votes."
Ottawa has long defended its immigration plan as 'necessary' given Canada has approximately 781,000 job vacancies, according to Statistics Canada.
According to the Tory leader, a Conservative government would focus immigration targets on labour needs though declining to provide a specific target.
"I'll make sure we have housing and healthcare so that when people come here, they have a roof overhead and care when they need it," he said.
"I'll make sure that it's easier for employers to fill genuine job vacancies they cannot fill."
But this messaging is nothing new to Bernier, calling his Tory counterpart "your typical politician."
"[Poilievre] understands that high demand from mass immigration causes housing shortages and is responsible for the skyrocketing prices. And yet, he completely ignores the demand side of the equation and only focuses on unrealistic supply solutions," Bernier told Rebel News.
"He believes that's how he can win the immigrant vote in the big cities."
Poilievre also took aim at new Housing Minister Sean Fraser, who served in the immigration portfolio before the recent cabinet shuffle. He called Fraser "the worst immigration minister in Canadian history."
The PPC leader said Poilievre has the markings of being "another manipulative establishment politician who will promote bad policies and betray Canadians whenever it's in his political interest."
He claimed this is typical of "fake Conservatives."