Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers opening remarks at the start of a meeting with mayors of Canada’s largest cities in Ottawa, Thursday February 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers opening remarks at the start of a meeting with mayors of Canada’s largest cities in Ottawa, Thursday February 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises cities help to lower high cost of housing

PM says it can take 280 months for an average family to save a down payment in a place like Toronto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised municipal leaders federal backing and resources toward efforts to address the high cost of housing that he says is creating a crisis for young and middle-class families.

The cost of housing has risen across the country, driven by a mix of low interest rates and demand outstripping supply as Canadians working from home look for more space.

Speaking to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual meeting, Trudeau said the cost of owning a home is out of reach for too many people in Canada’s largest cities, noting it can take 280 months for an average family to save for a down payment in a place like Toronto.

“Young people aren’t facing a housing problem, they’re facing a housing crisis,” Trudeau said Tuesday in a speech that had a campaign feel to it.

“We’ve got a generation of Canadians who are starting their lives, maybe hoping to start a family, without the same opportunity as their parents or grandparents to get a first home and build equity and their future. Things need to change.”

He said his government would look for ways to change the situation beyond what the Liberals have already laid out, but didn’t outline what those solutions might be.

Trudeau said in the speech that the federal government alone can’t cool housing costs, saying the levers exist at all levels of government, such as zoning rules and consumer protection regimes.

He said the Liberals will reach out to provinces and territories to find solutions to ease concerns around housing affordability.

The average home price in April was just under $696,000, a 41.9 per cent year-over-year increase, based on data from the Canadian Real Estate Association. The association noted the national average would be $144,000 less if the greater Vancouver and Toronto areas were excluded from calculations.

The government proposed billions in this year’s budget to boost the supply of affordable housing, seeing it as a way to bring down overall prices. The government is also promising a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign buyers, a measure whose efficacy has been questioned by experts.

Just days ago, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the government would tighten the mortgage stress test for insured mortgages, matching a similar move by a federal banking regulator. The new rules came into effect Tuesday.

The Opposition Conservatives have been critical of the government’s response to rising prices, including on Tuesday during the daily question period in the House of Commons.

Conservative MP James Cumming said inflation in the sector was particularly pronounced, especially as prices on lumber rise and add to building costs. He suggested the government needed to take “decisive action versus hollow announcements” to deal with high housing costs.

During his talk with municipal leaders, Trudeau pointed to the government’s decade-long housing strategy as part of federal actions.

When it was unveiled in 2017, the Liberals promised it would help build 160,000 new housing units, repair 300,000 more and provide the same number of households with subsidies.

The first triennial report on the strategy noted funding has flowed or been committed to build 63,600 units, repair 126,000 more, and subsidize housing costs for 36,000 households by the end of 2020.

The report also noted how many first-time homebuyers received mortgage aid through one part of the strategy that Trudeau touted Tuesday as helping make homebuying more affordable.

The $1.25-billion, three-year program sees the government cover between five to 10 per cent of mortgage costs for first-time buyers by taking an equity stake in their home. By the end of 2020, the program had provided $197 million to 10,600 buyers.

The government has since raised the value limit for mortgages for buyers in Toronto and Vancouver, but still requires recipients to eventually pay the money back.

—Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Bank of Canada warns of rising risks from household debt, and a hot housing market

RELATED: Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

Federal PoliticsJustin Trudeau

Just Posted

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

Gary Abbott performs a traditional hoop dance, National Aboriginal Peoples Day in Chilliwack, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Indigenous Peoples’ Day brings a virtual celebration of culture on June 21

Event to showcase Métis dancing, traditional Stólō songs, dancing, pow wows and storytelling

A t-shirt designed by Coast Salish artist Bonny Graham (B. Wyse) includes the phrase ‘every child matters’ in a custom font inspired by Coast Salish design.
Chilliwack FC works with Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council on t-shirt fundraiser

The youth soccer organization will sell custom-designed orange shirts, donating proceeds to the SNCC

Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament takes place Aug. 21, 2021.
Buzz building for 2021 Wilma’s Transition House Charity Golf Tournament

The key fundraiser for the non-profit will be held Aug. 21 at the Cultus Lake Golf Course

Special weather statement issued for Fraser Valley as first summer heat arrives June 20, 2021, and set to persist all week. (Photo by James Day on Unsplash)
Second day of hot temperatures rippling across Fraser Valley

Communities from Abbotsford to Hope will see daytime high maximum temps of 32 degrees

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 following an assault. (File photo)
Trial underway in February 2020 death of White Rock senior

Ross Banner charged with manslaughter following Five Corners altercation

Most Read