House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affordable.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec will need 50,000 new housing units in the next five years.

I would like to know my colleague's opinion on the following. The Bloc Québécois is proposing that 1% of the federal government's revenue be invested directly into housing and housing only in order to have predictable and stable funding. What does my colleague think of that?

The goal is to avoid having ad hoc agreements, as we have seen in the past. Earlier my colleague talked about an agreement that took three years for Quebec and Ottawa to negotiate.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course my colleague would understand the situation in Quebec far better than I would. This is definitely the kind of thing we need to be talking about. These are the discussions we need to have. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to go into the detail I need to with the member, but those innovative ideas are all the things we need to be talking about to help find some unique and innovative ways to help address this crisis.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the summary of the things being put forward by the Conservatives. I wanted to speak a little about using public assets for potential private development.

This happened at the provincial level in my very own riding with schools. What were considered to be excess school sites were sold off, but then, when development came around, we needed to buy land again for schools, so it is in my mind that I would not want that to happen to public assets.

My question is around the 15%. These are public assets, including public buildings and public real estate. Do the Conservatives support the idea that they should stay in the public's hands and that they should be social housing or subsidized federal housing?

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important we look at all solutions. We need to ensure we have affordable housing and that we have public units, no question about it, but we also have to work with the private sector. We have to encourage development in all areas.

What I am seeing in the Kenora riding is that this is something happening right across the board. There is a shortage of housing when it comes to affordable housing, starter housing and, really, housing for people in all stages of life, so we need to work to find a number of ways to work toward this.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by welcoming the hon. member for Kenora here. I have had the opportunity to exchange with him in the House, and I did not have the chance to say it, but I find his approach very respectful. I really enjoy engaging with him.

I want to ask whether he thinks there is a benefit, and this is not in the Conservative motion, to creating programs that encourage the building of purpose-built rental housing. It is big gap, and I wonder if he has any thoughts on that.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe the short answer is yes, this is definitely a very positive idea. Of course there are a number of things we can talk about at great length. Unfortunately, I do not have the time, as I see the Speaker is about to get up, but I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kenora for that great speech on a topic I believe all of us as parliamentarians are very concerned with.

To begin, I want to read the motion into the record. I have been listening to a lot of the questions throughout this debate, and I want to get some people back on track as they ask questions because they have been a little off on things.

Our motion states:

That, given that,

(i) the government has failed to increase the housing supply in Canada,

(ii) the government's $400 billion of new spending has produced a surge of inflationary pressure that has driven home prices more than 30% above pre-pandemic levels,

the House call on the government to:

(a) review and consolidate all federal real estate and properties in Canada in order to make at least 15% available for residential development;

(b) ban foreign investors from purchasing Canadian real estate; and

(c) commit to never introducing a capital gains tax on the sale of primary residences.

I am going to start with that because, after hearing so many of the questions being asked here, I think we really have to talk about what the housing continuum looks like and what happens when we have bubbles on each rung of the housing continuum ladder. Where we are now is a heck of a lot worse than where we were just two years ago. I want to talk a lot about the housing continuum.

In my former role as the shadow minister for families, children and social development from 2015 to 2019, housing was under that portfolio. During that time, in November 2018, the national housing strategy was announced, and we saw a lot of spending that was to be happening further into the future. However, we have to look at where we are now, the reality today.

I work a lot, and very closely, with LSTAR, the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors. Of course, that is part CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association. I have had the opportunity to work with it in my role over the last six years, and previously in my role as an assistant to the member, so throughout those years I have really been paying attention to this. Perhaps it is because I am a mother of five and I do not want my 18-year-old living in the basement for the rest of his life, but these are things that are really important to me, such as the future for our children.

I am very fortunate that my husband and I were able to buy a house in 2002 at an expensive $114,000. Today, that house, with the addition we put on, is worth over six times that price. I can say that the value is so not there. I wondered how this happened, so I started looking at some of the simple solutions to the issues we are having, and one of the first things I want to talk about is supply.

I want to focus on the London and southwestern Ontario region. When we look at its housing supply in November of 2021, we see it was 0.4 units. Its supply 10 years before, in November 2012, was 4.8 units. Therefore, we have seen a decrease in supply of 4.4 units. That is part of our problem. If we cannot get things built, we have a problem.

The active listings under LSTAR for November of this year, 2021, were only 210 compared to 2012, when there were 1,625. The math is very simple. That is a difference of 1,400 listings.

Right now, when looking at housing and the average prices, they are between $625,000 and $632,000, with a median price of $662,500.

I represent Elgin—Middlesex—London. Part of that riding includes the County of Middlesex. In November of 2021, we saw that the average price for a home in Middlesex, and my colleague from Lambton—Kent—Middlesex is seeing the same prices, was $991,000, so I have been really focusing on this and looking to see what we can do.

Mike Moffat, who is a member of the Ontario Home Builders' Association, has talked about this crisis we are going through. From July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2021, we have seen Ontario's population grow by one million people in just five years. The demand and supply are totally mismatched. There are one million new people living in Ontario, but they have no home.

That is something we need to be concerned with. If we continue to grow our population, this is part of what we need to do. We always talk about viewing the things we are looking at through a lens. This is one issue we need to look at through with this lens.

What are we going to do for our infrastructure? What are we going to do for jobs and employment? For me, the question is what are we going to do for housing because, as everybody knows, housing first is very, very important as that first step to home ownership, and for livelihood as well. The projections have indicated that an additional 911,347 households will be formed in the next 10 years, so I am hoping that we can all work together, recognizing that this problem is not going to go away, so we need a solution.

I want to go back, though, to the costs because this is something that I think of in relation to myself and my five children. I look at my 27-year-old son. He has a family. He would like to buy a home. He has been saving his money after leaving the Canadian Armed Forces, and he would like to provide a home for his family. He has put approximately $30,000 into his bank account for savings, and we know that is far from enough for today.

I want to look at what the prices are today compared to what we saw pre-pandemic. In Elgin County, the benchmark price, what people are expecting to receive, is $524,000, but the average price these houses were selling for in February 2021 was $609,000. In South London, another part of my riding, $527,000 is the benchmark, but they are selling right now for $651,000. In Middlesex, we are seeing the same problems. In the city of St. Thomas, the area I live in, housing has gone up by $100,000 for a medium house. We went from $440,000 to $548,000 in one year.

I want to look at some of the statistics and look back at where we were in 2020 for the county of Elgin, where we have the city of St. Thomas, but where we also have 10 different municipalities making up Elgin—Middlesex—London. The average price in February 2020, just weeks before this pandemic started, was $387,000. In the city of St. Thomas, the average cost was $376,000. I just shared that we saw other prices of over $500,000.

I think of my constituents. What are they going to do? We have some of the best real estate agents and some of the best home builders. I think of Doug Tarry Homes, which has been part of the Ontario Home Builders' Association and does a lot of things with NRCan to make sure we have housing that is efficient. We are coming up with solutions. I am part of the LSTAR Libro housing coalition. We are working together in our region on what we can do better and look for some of the solutions. Therefore, land is something that we know is a problem.

I am going to refer back to the motion. When we talk about giving up some of the federal assets so we can build land, we are talking about, sometimes, open spaces. I think of my own downtown in St. Thomas. It is about two kilometres long. We know that there are a lot of offices. We know that there are a lot of private and government spaces that could be used for housing.

When it comes to working with our municipalities and our provinces, I urge members to make sure that, when we take a bite out of the housing problem we have, we have to work together. We have to look at how we can take some of these places and change them, and how we can take them from commercial entities to residential entities. That is the type of work we need to do.

We have talked a lot about what the future is for our children. I just want to read from a recent report from the Mustel Group and Sotheby's International Realty Canada. It revealed the issue of the dream. I just want to read from these statistics, which read “75% of urban [Canadian] Generation Z adults are likely to buy and own a primary residence in their lifetime”.

It then states that currently one in 10 people owns their own home, so that is a very small amount. One in 10 individuals owns their own home in generation Z. The article continues, saying that 82% are worried that they will not be able to buy in their community of choice due to the rising real estate costs.

I can say that is exactly what we are seeing. I am on that 401 corridor where we have seen people migrate from the GTA. I always say it is because we are one of the most beautiful constituencies in the entire country, but it is also because the cost of housing is lower there.

The article also states that 70% of people want to buy a family single home and that 50% have already given up the traditional dream.

We know that one of the top barriers is inflation. Before I finish, I will say that we have an issue. It is not just a housing crisis, but it is also the inflationary issue. If people are going to be putting money into their RRSPs so they can save money, the cost of living needs to be reduced. Therefore, I am asking the government to please step forward and help the next generation.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I could probably agree on the ways in which organizations in our communities can contribute positively to our current situation. Where I am inclined to somewhat disagree with the member is that the Conservatives seem to be of the opinion that there are vast quantities of land, millions of hectares, that the federal government can convert, taking it away from Parks Canada, National Defence and Environment Canada. That makes up 95%. They are talking about millions of hectares.

I am wondering if the member could explain to the House where the Conservatives got that number from. Was it the member for Carleton who said there were millions of hectares of land that we could convert? Where did they get the six million number from?

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a misleading question, so I am going to state the facts. There are 37,246 buildings. We know there has been a vast change when we look at employment. We know that more people are working from home, as I just heard the NDP member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith say.

We talk about converting buildings. In the city of St. Thomas, Scott Street Public School was converted and now there is affordable housing there. It is used for social housing, with the City of St. Thomas as the developer. We saw something happen, and it was good for all of the people who wanted to live there.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague clearly has a lot of empathy for her constituents in Elgin—Middlesex—London.

I want to point out that, between 2011 and 2016, during the Harper era, Canada lost more than 320,000 housing units for the least fortunate Canadians.

I would like to know how my colleague defines a housing bubble. Once prices stabilize, will the Conservative Party lose interest in the housing shortage again?

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk a bit about the housing bubble. There is a continuum that I call the rungs of a ladder. When a shelter has a bubble, when a rental unit or geared-to-income unit has a bubble, when a first-time home has a bubble, and when the market value has a bubble, it means people cannot get to the next rung. If that rung is busy, people cannot get up there. I think of so many people who try to leave shelters and geared-to-income housing. If there is no supply, they cannot move forward.

We need to work together at all levels of government to ensure that we are addressing each and every level.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would love to hear more from my colleague about how we are going to help the homeless situation, which is dire in my riding of Peterborough—Kawartha, with this motion.

How would implementing the three specific targets in the motion help the homeless crisis?

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is something I see on my own streets. I am very passionate about Elgin—Middlesex—London, but I do not know if there is a street across the city, or a community where homelessness is not apparent. We have to work on this. Part of it is mental health and addictions, part of it is development and part of it is economic.

To me, the housing first strategy that the Harper government put forward in its 10 years was a good thing. Anybody who works in housing says housing first was what we ultimately needed to do. Yes, we need wraparound services and it can be better, but I am really proud of what Conservatives put forward.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it looks like we may have some common ground on partnerships and potential social housing opportunities.

I would ask this again. Would the Conservatives consider an amendment to the 15%?That could be kept in public hands and used for social housing.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, an amendment has to be made through the member who moved the motion, but I will continue to advocate with the developers and all levels of government to ensure that social housing is also there. We need something that helps all Canadians. Whether it is the working poor, those without homes or those at the top of the scale, we need to be working with all Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, it is great to rise today to speak to this motion that has taken on a bunch of different forms today.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough Centre.

Where I will start is by properly answering the question that the parliamentary secretary asked the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. He asked where the number of 41 million hectares of land came from. I can actually answer that question.

I would encourage anybody out there who is watching this, and who might be interested, to google the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and land. It will show the actual list of land that is owned by the federal government. It starts to break down how much land is owned by each department within the federal government.

The end result where it gives a total is just under 41 million hectares of land. That is where the member for Carleton, who first started talking about this a number of days ago in question period, got his number of 41 million hectares of land. It is from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat document that outlines where the land that the federal government owns is actually located.

The problem is that, when we start to dig into it and look at the various departments that own land, members will notice that the top three own 97% of the land. Parks Canada owns just under 36 million hectares of the 41 million hectares. Environment and Climate Change Canada owns 2.4 million hectares and National Defence owns 2.2 million.

Why is this so important to talk about? It is because the entire premise for this motion, and the narrative we have heard from the Conservative Party this week, has been the idea that the federal government has all of this land available that can suddenly become ready for housing. I want to dive into this for a second to examine why the Conservatives are making this claim and why it is such a false claim to make.

For starters, I do not think that any member in the House is going to actually suggest that Parks Canada land should be divested for housing. More importantly, there would be very little Parks Canada land that would be serviceable for the creation of housing.

Earlier, I mentioned to the member for Edmonton Riverbend the planning responsibilities of municipal councils. He was oddly critical of municipal governments for somehow being responsible for the problem we are in right now. I will come back to that in a second.

There is this idea that we can just take land and start using it. The truth is it is not developable land, and certainly not 15%, which is what they are suggesting. One has to ask: Why are the Conservatives talking about land as though that is the only solution to the problem that we have? It is twofold. First, they think that running around and saying this 41 million number sounds so incredible. If that was all someone knew, they would ask why we were not using that land until they started to understand, as I have tried to outline, where the land is from. It is a really good talking point because it will come off very well.

More importantly, why do Conservatives focus so much on land? Why do they not talk about buildings? Why does the member for Carleton not talk about buildings? It is because the Conservatives know that those who develop land are part of their base. When we sever off land and look to build housing on it, no federal government is going to go into an area and start severing individual property lots to sell to individual people to build housing on. They are going to sell to a developer.

They are going to sell hectares at a time to developers who are going to develop that land to build housing. It explains why they were dead set against the NDP amendment to this, because that is their base: developers and people who build things. It is fine. We should be supportive of developers, but that should not be the only area we look at. When we talk about developing housing affordability, we also need to talk about affordable housing. The term the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London was trying to get was “rent geared to income”. A lot of people out there need their rent geared to their income. Severing off land and selling it to developers who are going to build houses is not going to help the problem of people who need rent that is geared to their income.

The other issue that I wanted to go back to was how the member for Edmonton Riverbend criticized me earlier this morning, as though I was part of the problem that we are now in when I was on city council, because we were not able to tackle this problem as a municipal government. Members can imagine that. A member of Parliament, through one statement, has broadly accused every city council in the country that has a problem with housing for creating this problem.

I would like to educate the member for Edmonton Riverbend on what I went through. My introduction into politics was sitting on the affordable housing development committee in the city of Kingston. Do members know who brought forward money in order to enable that? It was the Dalton McGuinty provincial Liberal government. I brought this up earlier, and the member for Edmonton Riverbend started asking if I wanted to lump myself in with the McGuinty and Wynne governments.

They were the only ones doing anything for housing. Stephen Harper would not put any money into housing. I sat on the committee that received the funding from the provincial government and used it to build housing in the Kingston area. Not a dime came from the feds. It all came from the province. For this Conservative member to somehow accuse city councils throughout the country of creating this problem, when the previous Conservative government played a major role in limiting the funds, is extremely disingenuous.

The member for Kenora accused me of political grandstanding. He should read the first line in this motion, if he wants to talk about political grandstanding and implying that governments are failing. This is the problem with Conservative motions. They always do this: They bring in these motions that have one clause they know we will never support, and then try to put in a bunch of reasonable clauses, not because they actually think the motion will get passed, but because they want to say later on that they brought this forward and talked about capital gains, and the Liberals would not vote for it. They will say they told the House what we were doing all along.

This is the problem with these opposition motions from the Conservatives. Every time they bring them here, they do not actually expect them to pass. All they are trying to do is create ammunition for their next political fight, which is disingenuous to what they are supposed to be doing in this place: helping Canadians with the problems they are having. They refuse to do that. I feel bad for the Bloc, because I think that the Bloc members came in today thinking they would support this and that it made sense, but as the day has been going on and the holes have been shot straight through the opposition motion, they are probably starting to wonder how they can possibly reassess their position on this.

In any event, I have appreciated the time that I have had to speak on this today. This is, unfortunately, not a motion that I am going to be able to support. That is no surprise to the Conservatives. Nonetheless, this government will continue to fight for Canadians and make sure we can bring in as much housing supply as we possibly can.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I did not catch the majority of the member's speech. It was on mute in the back, so I apologize to the member, but I can probably guess some of the things he said, so let me start from there.

He has had better days in this chamber. First of all, he tied himself to the Kathleen Wynne Liberals right off the bat. He brought up his failed tenure as mayor of Kingston and has yet to recognize that young families cannot afford a home in this country.

Maybe the member should pick a different day to show up. This day has been a terrible day for him.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, he should have kept it on mute and become aware that I was out here with that question. Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty were giving the cities money to build housing. Stephen Harper, his Prime Minister at the time, was not doing that.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 9th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's speech sounded a lot like the other speeches I have heard from the other side of the House. I have been here for six years, the Liberals have been in power for six years, and things have not been going well for six years. The Liberals blame this on the Conservatives, and the Conservatives obviously throw the blame back on the Liberals.

I do not care about any of that. All I want to know is why can we not just agree on something? The Conservatives introduced a motion on a major problem. I am not a Conservative, but the Bloc Québécois will support their motion because we think it is a good idea and could help us out of this mess we are in.

Would my Liberal colleague agree that his party should take a step in the right direction, show some good faith and say that it will support the Conservatives on this? We could finally, for the first time in six years, say we did something reasonable.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the cosy coalition between the Conservatives and the Bloc continues.

The member just said that the motion makes sense. The motion calls for 15% of the 41 million hectares of federal land, of which 97% are Environment, Parks Canada and National Defence.

I will ask a question back to the member. Can he tell us what part of those lands in Quebec he wants to give up in order to make this motion successful?

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Obviously the member knows that is not how it works here.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Bonita Zarrillo NDP Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking the hon. member for his defence of the municipalities and city councillors in this country. They have been tirelessly working to find ways to get housing on the ground, whether it is variances, density bonuses or housing affordability funds, because the federal government has not come forward with the funding that is needed. I thank him for those comments.

I wanted to talk about the 15% again. In my riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam, we recently had a federal post office close down. It is an excellent building in an excellent location, walkable to parks and services and schools. I wonder how much real estate is available for this kind of redevelopment.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question and the member is right. There are city councils throughout this country that have been working tirelessly to build affordable housing for this country. For the member for Edmonton Riverbend to suggest that it is their fault that this all happened is ludicrous.

As the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said earlier, we already have an initiative in place like this. We have a land bank, basically, where surplus federal land will go. There is a process to divest of that land. I believe, when I was on municipal council, it was first offered to the province and then to the municipalities. We can perhaps talk about adjusting that. How do we change that to be more effective at distributing those surplus lands?

The member is absolutely right. That is going to be where the success is. We need to find these parcels of property that are in highly dense areas and retrofit and rebuild them, not look for 15% of the 41 million acres of land the federal government owns.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Before continuing debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Regional Economic Development; the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, Climate Change; the hon. member for Bay of Quinte, The Economy.

Opposition Motion—Housing SupplyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to you on your new role.

Affordable housing and the high cost of safe and suitable housing is one of the biggest issues for the residents of my riding of Scarborough Centre, so I welcome the opportunity to speak to this pressing issue and share some of the solutions our government is already working on, which, unlike the few actual specifics proposed in this motion, actually can and are addressing this issue in a serious and meaningful way.

Our government is committed to ensuring that Canada’s communities are healthy, sustainable and productive places to live and prosper. An essential part of attaining that goal is making housing affordable and accessible. In the Speech from the Throne, we committed to further investment in housing that will see more units built, increase affordable housing and ultimately put an end to chronic homelessness in Canada. In fact, investments in affordable housing are front and centre in our government’s efforts to build diverse, inclusive communities that strengthen our economy and support our continued prosperity. Everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable place to call home.

Since 2015, our government has invested close to $30 billion in housing, and we have helped create more housing for over one million Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is why we introduced Canada’s first-ever national housing strategy in 2017, a 10-year, $72-billion plan that is improving housing affordability for all Canadians.

The national housing strategy addresses housing security needs with an emphasis on populations made vulnerable, such as seniors, indigenous people, and women and children fleeing domestic violence. By supporting climate-compatible, resilient and affordable housing, we are taking important steps to support Canada’s climate change initiative. The national housing strategy will help ensure that the current and next generation of affordable and community housing in Canada is sustainable and built to last.

As part of the national housing strategy, we have introduced the rapid housing initiative, a $2.5-billion program to finance the construction of modular housing, as well as the acquisition of land and the conversion of existing buildings to affordable housing.

I had an opportunity earlier this year to take part in a modular housing announcement in my riding with the City of Toronto, a 57-unit supportive housing site that will be managed by a non-profit housing provider. This is the kind of initiative that makes a real and immediate difference in the lives of people made vulnerable across Canada.

Let me talk about another program, the rental construction financing initiative. This program has seen incredible uptake since it was launched five years ago, and it is making a real difference for middle-class Canadians. It is a well-known fact that there is a shortage of purpose-built rental supply in Canada. Many of our cities have extremely low vacancy rates. This has driven up prices to the point where the very people who make our cities run can no longer afford to live in them.

We cannot just keep pushing the middle class to the suburbs if we want vibrant, inclusive cities. I see this every day in Scarborough. Our rental stock is old and dated and ill-suited to the needs of the many multi-generational families who call Scarborough home. People are afraid to move to new rental housing that may be more suitable, because they just cannot afford the massive increases in rent they have been somewhat shielded from as long-term tenants in their current rental units.

The rental construction financing initiative addresses this exact problem. It gives developers low-cost loans during the riskiest phases of construction. This helps developers to better predict costs, and they are more incentivized to build rental projects, all while meeting important criteria in terms of affordability, accessibility and energy efficiency.

From the beginning, the program generated great interest from the housing sector. To meet the growing demand, we increased our investments to $13.75 billion. It is estimated that when the rental construction financing initiative comes to an end in 2028, the $26 billion invested will have created more than 71,000 new rental housing units across this country. In other words, 71,000 more middle-class families will be able to find housing they can afford in the cities where they live.

We are taking steps to make housing more accessible, more sustainable and more affordable. These investments will give Canadians a healthier, greener and more affordable place to call home. We are helping communities implement more permanent housing solutions by providing them with the flexibility to direct funds toward local priority areas as part of the response to this pandemic. We have heard the concerns of Canadians, and they want us to do our part to ensure that they have affordable options wherever they are on the housing continuum. We know that housing affordability is a priority for people across Canada, as it is a priority for this government.

When I look at the motion from the opposition, I do not see much that will help my constituents in Scarborough. We do not have surplus federal land.

Our government is implementing, as of January 1, 2022, a national tax on non-resident, non-Canadian owners of vacant, underused housing, and we will extend this to include foreign-owned vacant land within large urban areas. We also committed in our platform to temporarily banning new foreign ownership in Canadian housing, to ensure that Canadians have more access to purchasing homes.

The idea of a capital gains tax on the sale of a primary residence has never been considered by our government. It is a Conservative fiction designed to distract from their own lack of serious ideas and a decade of a Conservative government where they abandoned any federal role on housing.

Again, the Conservatives decry the support that our government provided to Canadians during this pandemic. This $400 billion they villainize in the motion before us is money that allowed people in Scarborough and across Canada to make their mortgage and rent payments during the height of the pandemic. It allowed businesses to keep staff on the payroll, stay in business and keep their doors open in the darkest hours. These programs literally allowed people to stay in their homes. How can Conservatives say they want to solve the housing crisis when they oppose helping people keep their homes during a pandemic?

On this side of the House, we are taking strong action to make a real difference in the lives of families. We laid out that plan in the recent Speech from the Throne. The government will help families buy their first home sooner with a more flexible first-time homebuyer incentive and a new rent-to-own program, as well as by reducing the closing costs for first-time buyers. The $4-billion housing accelerator fund will increase the housing supply.

We are building stronger communities in which people can live, play, work and do business, and we are committed to working with the municipalities, provinces and territories as partners to address this housing crisis. Canadians expect serious leadership and collaboration, and that is what we will deliver.