North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney expressed disappointment and frustration at the federal government’s 2023 fall economic update, particularly when it comes to housing.
“I hear about it every time I’m in the constituency and when I’m not there my team is hearing about it,” she said. “I was really hoping actually for there to be a change in the rental construction financing initiative, or RCFI. What I was hoping to see there was a helpful expansion of qualifying groups that could apply for that. Largely, at this point, this is being accessed by corporations who build homes that are at market-level rent. We all know that the rental market has gone up significantly and fewer and fewer Canadians can actually afford to rent this type of housing. I was hoping to see the scope expanded to really focus on more low-income nonprofit housing.”
In the North Island riding, Blaney said that many of those affected by the housing crisis are seniors, particularly in the more rural communities.
“Just last week a constituent came to our office and let us know that he’s lived in a trailer park for 40 years and it’s now it’s been purchased by someone and who’s in the process of being evicted. He’s a senior. Where is he going to go?” she said. “When you look at that crisis that we’re hearing about again and again; of seniors, of hard-working Canadians, young people, of family people who just have nowhere to go or to call home, it’s getting harder and harder. It just doesn’t make sense that we’re not seeing that investment.”
Blaney was also worried about the loss of non-profit housing. Consultant Steve Pomeroy wrote in 2020 that Canada is losing affordable housing faster than it is building it, and that “for every one new affordable unit created … 15 existing private affordable units were lost,” based on research done between 2016 and 2020.
Blaney said the affordable building owners have been losing maintenance financing for years, and that ” these people who have been making housing affordable for a long time are having to sell their building … which is upgraded and getting people with higher income.
“So no wonder when we look across this country we see such a significant housing crisis,” she said. “This isn’t a new crisis. It’s been there for a long time.”
The update included updates to Canada’s Housing Action plan, including a new Canadian Mortgage Charter, accelerating how communities build housing, a crack down on short term rentals and more financing for apartment construction.
However, Blaney says there is more that could be done.
“What’s frustrating for me is that so many Canadians are struggling so profoundly. I would love to see more money going out to people who desperately need it,” Blaney said.