© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A house under construction in a neighbourhood of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 17, 2023. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg//File Photo
(Reuters) – An affordable housing crisis that is hurting the Canadian government’s popularity will take years to resolve, even if construction hits an 80-year high, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.
Her comments were among the first by a senior member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal administration to acknowledge the scale of the challenge. Polls show the Liberals trailing their Conservative rivals, who blame Ottawa for high inflation and soaring home prices.
Housing is mainly the responsibility of the 10 provinces as well as major municipalities, with Ottawa’s role limited to policy advice and financial incentives.
“It will take all of us — the federal government and the provinces, cities and towns, the private sector and non-profits … working together in common cause, not for weeks or months, but for years,” Freeland said.
“Building the homes a growing Canada needs will require another great national effort,” she told a Montreal conference, saying the country would have to build homes at a speed and scale not seen since the 1940s and 1950s.
In a bid to boost supply, the government has said it will remove the federal 5% consumption tax on the construction of new rental apartment buildings and is telling cities to do more to address the issue.