While the Liberals talk a good game, they don’t seem to grasp that Canada’s housing crisis is here and now, not a “maybe next year” problem.
Liberal budgets include the appearance of generous investments, but it’s so much less when spread out across Canada and dribbled out over too many years. They won’t even deliver tomorrow what we really need today.
Canada needs a better plan.
What the Liberal budget offers are opportunities for some to use more of their savings contained in RRSPs to help buy a new home. It won’t help very much in Victoria where housing prices, more than financing costs, are out of reach for people of modest means. And that does nothing to increase the supply of affordable housing in the rental market, where the need is more pressing.
Like too many other Liberal promises, funding for new rental housing faces a long road, and there are few effective incentives to incent the market to deliver affordable units. Since the last election they have only managed to put up 500 units across the entire country. In Vancouver alone, almost twice that number of social housing units opened up in 2018 alone, with help from the province and the city. Almost 3 times that many more market rental units were completed over the same period. That’s how little impact the Liberals have had, and the best they can promise is to extend the slow walk for another 10 years.
Victoria’s needs are not so different from Vancouver’s. New construction – in market rentals and new condo projects – is fast reshaping Victoria’s skyline. For those who need something more affordable, regional and provincial players are already at the table, waiting for the federal government to cough up its share. They can’t wait for a post-election funding promise or a timeline that will see their kids approaching retirement before the Liberals finally deliver.
We need a better plan.
The NDP aims to build 500,000 units, not 500.
We need to be creative and to be bold. We need more co-op housing; we need new forms of accessible, affordable housing for those with disabilities – and legislation to mandate that standard. We need to tackle the appalling lack of decent housing for First Nations communities. We need to establish a more equitable tax regime that makes investments in affordable housing more cost effective. And we need a commitment to helping make our housing stock, new and old, more energy-efficient so we can reduce operating costs for owners and renters and reduce carbon emissions at the same time.
Here’s what our plan looks like:
• Support social and coop housing working with all levels of government
• Adopting strategies to address homelessness, paying special attention to the needs of indigenous peoples
• Assisting low income households to improve household energy efficiency
• Ensuring accessibility standards for all forms of disability are met in social housing
• Implementing a national strategy to ensure adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, in partnership with provinces, municipalities, Indigenous communities, nonprofit and civil society organizations, including those that represent groups in need of adequate housing.
I hear constantly from people in our community that we are facing a crisis. It is past time to get serious about Canada’s housing crunch.
Murray Rankin is MP for Victoria.