I am pleased to rise today to introduce Bill C‑56, the affordable housing and groceries act.
I would like to explain why it is so important that we work together to pass this bill. This bill includes urgent measures to make life more affordable for Canadians, including removing the GST on the construction of new apartment buildings, which would help get more rental homes built faster.
The bill would also enhance competition across the economy, with a focus on the grocery sector to help stabilize food prices for Canadians.
Specifically, this legislation would increase the GST rental rebate from 36% to 100% and remove the existing GST rental rebate phase-out thresholds for new rental housing projects. That means for a two-bedroom rental unit valued at $500,000, our plan would deliver $25,000 in tax relief. This is about encouraging developers to build homes that otherwise would not get built. It is a game-changer for housing in our country. Mike Moffatt, one of Canada's leading housing experts, called this “a fantastic transformative step.” and Toronto's former chief city planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, said that this measure could be “the beginning of a sea change."
This is the newest measure in our ambitious housing plan, one that is about building more homes faster, cracking down on unfair practices by investors and ensuring that Canadians can afford a safe place to call home. Our plan includes the new tax-free first home savings account, which is already helping tens of thousands of Canadians save up to $40,000 tax-free toward that first down payment. Our plan also includes the $4 billion race-to-the-top housing accelerator fund, which is already breaking down barriers and encouraging municipalities to build more homes.
With Bill C-56, we are doing even more with provinces like Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia already following our lead by eliminating provincial taxes on new rentals. We will build even more of the rental homes that Canadians need.
This bill also seeks to amend the Competition Act to give more power to the Competition Bureau so that it can investigate price gouging and price fixing.
It would put an end to anti-competitive mergers that drive up prices and limit Canadians' choices. It would also enable the Competition Bureau to ensure that big grocery stores cannot prevent smaller competitors from opening stores nearby. Our government is relentlessly focused on building an economy with stable prices, steady growth, and abundant, well-paying, middle-class jobs.
There are currently 980,000 more Canadians in the job market than before the pandemic. Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predict that, on average, Canada will see the strongest economic growth in the G7 this year and next. DBRS Morningstar also confirmed our AAA credit rating earlier this month.
Since we were elected, 2.3 million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. In 2015, 14.5% of Canadians were living in poverty. By 2021, that number had dropped to 7.4%. Our affordable Canada-wide early learning and child care system is supporting a record labour force participation rate of 85.7% for working-age women. It is also helping to grow the economy and make life more affordable for families from coast to coast to coast.
Furthermore, whether by enhancing the Canada workers benefit or by creating the Canada child benefit or the new Canada dental care plan, we have strengthened the social safety net that millions of Canadians rely on, while ensuring that Canada maintains the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
We are working hard for Canadians, but we know we have more work to do. Bill C-56 will deliver real, concrete solutions. More competition will help with the sticker shock at the grocery checkout counter. Eliminating the GST on rental housing will get more homes built faster, so that more Canadians have an affordable place to call home.
Bill C-56 is an important step in our plan to continue delivering on what matters most to Canadians, and I encourage my colleagues to support its swift passage.