Budget: Ottawa tackles housing shortage

Budget: Ottawa tackling the housing shortage

Canada’s Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, during her speech.

Ottawa wants to make housing easier with the budget presented Thursday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. Several measures concern access to home ownership or affordable rents.

The Freeland budget provides for a new fund of 4 billion aimed at the construction of 100,000 new housing units over five years. A section devoted to social housing will also receive 1.5 billion over two years to improve the supply. A one-time payment of $500 will be offered to all individuals struggling to find affordable housing. However, the exact conditions of this measure remain to be defined.

To combat real estate speculation, a two-year moratorium is launched to prohibit foreign investment in the Canadian real estate market. The Trudeau administration also leaves itself the possibility of going further, if necessary.

A new tax-free savings account (TFSA) which makes it possible to avoid paying tax on his income and on his savings when buying a first property is also set up.

A measure is also added against flips, i.e. buying properties for resale. Following the first 12 months of the purchase of a property, its owner will have to pay the tax on all the profits generated.

Insufficient measurements

Despite a shower of housing measures, the Freeland budget left the Front d'action populaire en réménagement urbain (FRAPRU) unsatisfied. “The Trudeau government had an opportunity to really advance the right to housing, as it has legally committed to do; he preferred to multiply initiatives from which very few will benefit low-income households, who are the first victims of the current crises, ”laments spokesperson Véronique Laflamme.

FRAPRU considers that Ottawa’s financial resources should have been directed towards the construction of non-profit social housing.

The Minister of Finance of Quebec, Eric Girard, considers that his counterpart is “taking action in several important files”. “But we deplore the absence of an increase in health transfers. Our repeated request is clear and the federal government must respond to it as quickly as possible.

Disappointment shared

On the Ottawa hill, the opposition also denounces the Freeland budget. The Conservatives would have liked to see a tax break granted to Canadians, who have to deal with inflation. “The situation for Canadians is worse than six years ago. Families struggling to pay their bills are being left behind. Families trying to buy a house are left behind,” said interim chief Candice Bergen.

The Bloc Québécois describes the budget as “centralizing and arrogant”. It offers “no response to the crises in terms of health care funding, climate and cost of living, in addition to not responding to the party's unconditional demands,” said leader Yves-François Blanchet. The party will vote against its adoption.

For its part, the NDP is delighted with the agreement signed with the Liberals, which allows it to “obtain dental care coverage for children, assistance to pay the rent of a million people and the obligation for the big banks to pay their fair share”. 

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