May 31, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance Canada
Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, met with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus for a virtual roundtable on housing affordability.
The recent and rapid rise in housing prices has made this an important issue for all Canadians and all orders of government. Attendees agreed that investments in rental and market housing supply, innovative policy solutions, regulatory efficiencies, and coordination across all orders of government are needed to keep life affordable and ensure all Canadians have a place to call home.
The Deputy Prime Minister noted the federal government’s $70 billion National Housing Strategy and recent proposed investments through the budget to help build, repair, and maintain an additional 35,000 housing units. Mayors thanked the federal government for recent investments through the federal budget to help cities grow and recover from the pandemic. They also welcomed the budget’s innovative new plan to convert the empty downtown office space into rental housing.
The Deputy Prime Minister also underscored the federal government’s intention to implement a tax on vacant or underused homes owned by foreign investors who don’t live in Canada.
The Deputy Prime Minister and mayors discussed the need for housing policies that specifically address the needs of middle class families, sometimes referred to as the missing middle.
The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated the federal government’s commitment to completely end chronic homelessness and mayors spoke about the need for programs that address the root causes of homelessness.
The importance of public transit in building healthy, accessible, and affordable cities was noted by all. In February, the federal government made the largest transit investment in Canadian history – $14.9 billion to build projects over the next eight years, with $3 billion per year in permanent funding.
The Deputy Prime Minister encouraged participants to take action in their own jurisdictions to address housing affordability and support Canadians. Participants acknowledged that a national strategy means all orders of government working together to increase housing affordability and supply so that all Canadians have a place to call home.
Participants spoke about the tragic news of the remains of 215 children discovered at the site the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Deputy Prime Minister underscored the long path of reconciliation and unfinished work ahead.