Trudeau minister says Canadians who need housing should 'contact city hall' about their options

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told reporters it will take years to build enough homes to meet demand nationwide. He said, 'People who are sleeping rough today need to contact [their] local authorities.'

Trudeau minister says Canadians who need housing should 'contact city hall' about their options
Facebook/ Sean Fraser
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Canada's housing minister continues to deflect federal responsibility on housing, advising residents to contact their municipal representatives instead.

"Part of the problem is some of the bottlenecks facing communities, including a lack of infrastructure that enables home construction," Housing Minister Sean Fraser told reporters on September 18. 

"What will you do for people who can't find housing today?" asked a reporter. He replied: "It will take a significant period of time to grow the housing stock." 

Federal researchers with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimate Canada needs to double its housing production and build 440,000 properties annually to meet the growing demand, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

By 2030, the Crown corporation says extrapolating current projections will leave the country with a 3.45 million unit shortfall of their 18.19 million target.

Fraser said it will take years to build enough homes to meet demand nationwide. "People who are sleeping rough today need to contact local authorities."

When asked about the CMHC report, the minister blamed municipal zoning policies, specifically on densification and building near transit hubs, for the rapidly increasing home prices.

Fraser told reporters on September 13 that he raised these points with London's mayor, Josh Morgan, before approving the city for $74 million for 2,000 new housing units over the next three years.

"You can do more to legalize housing. Because communities across this country, in many instances, make it illegal to build the kinds of homes that will solve the housing crisis," said the minister.

Ontario makes up most of the shortfall of all the provinces and territories, with a 1.46 million supply gap. The gap is widening in other parts of the country, including Québec, B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia.

According to Canadian Real Estate Association data, the average prices year over year have increased in 6 of 10 provinces. Prices averaged $966,000 in B.C., up 5.4% from last year and the highest in Canada.

In Ontario, the average house costs $856,000 (up 3%), with the subsequent increases highest in Québec ($492,000), Alberta ($452,000), and Nova Scotia ($401,000).

On housing prices, Fraser urged Canadians not to look at a simplistic matrix about average home prices when solutions are needed now. "What matters is we have housing stock available," he said.

But his Conservative opposition is not buying the malarkey.

"We are building fewer houses than we did in 1972," Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told the House of Commons on September 18. 

"In 1972, with 22 million people, we built 232,000 homes. Last year, we built 219,000. This year, housing construction is down again 32 percent," he said.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, then Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, in testimony on May 18 at the Commons public accounts committee, admitted that the building rate of new homes in Canada is "obviously inadequate."

"We need more housing supply in Canada," he said. "We have the fastest growing population in the G7 [with] a very low housing supply of all types."

The CMHC concurred that a rising population — which surpassed 40 million people in June, thanks to historic immigration levels — is a primary factor for the growing supply gap for new homes.

Canada is on track to bring in 465,000 permanent residents this year, 485,000 in 2024, and half a million by 2025.

Should the current immigration targets persist into 2030, the CMHC projects a housing shortfall of four million homes.

"This is because the higher population, and a larger pool of income it brings, increase demand for housing," they said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet have refused in-house advice from housing bureaucrats that urged reduced immigration targets to restabilize Canada's housing market.

The Counter Signal obtained a classified memorandum addressed to the prime minister on June 24, 2022, blaming Canada's housing crisis on his government.

The federal Secretary of the Cabinet, Janice Charette, said "broad agreement" exists that "homebuilding has been insufficient [compared] to housing demand in recent years."

According to the memorandum, Canada needs 665,000 new homes annually to reduce the housing gap as immigration increases yearly — more than triple the 2022 output of 219,000 new housing units. 

However, Fraser refuted the claim that fewer immigrants would solve the crisis. "I would urge caution to anyone who believes the answer to our housing challenges is to close the door on newcomers," he said last month.

According to the minister, building more homes is the answer. 

But the CMHC warns that "the number of households in the country won't be significantly higher in 2030 than last year's projection" despite higher immigration levels.

Fraser suggested that newcomers would alleviate the 6.5% labour shortage reported last year, especially in construction. 

However, the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey said Canada lost nearly 45,000 construction jobs in July and a further 14,000 in June, as first reported by True North.

Canada observed a net gain of 7,700 construction workers during that period, including 145,000 newcomers in the first quarter of 2023.

"We will be looking for ways to boost the productive capacity through training, immigration and innovation by having more homes built in factories, among other things," said Fraser, but he did not elaborate.

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