Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House for the first time this session to discuss the very important bill that we have in front of us.
This summer, I spoke to many constituents of mine in Guelph who had concerns about the price of housing, the price of groceries and big business taking over the marketplace in many areas. I am really pleased that the first piece of legislation of the session that we have in front of us to talk about is Bill C-56, the affordable housing and groceries act.
The government understands that many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet in these times of high inflation. Many measures that we have been introducing have been to help people who are unfairly affected by the inflationary winds that are blowing globally right now. We need to do more than we have been doing in terms of targeted support. The bill in front of us today addresses what we could do to help build more rental housing, as well as to try to curb the inflation that we see in the grocery market in particular.
Families across the country are relying on parliamentarians to do what we can to help with measures such as those we have outlined in Bill C-56 and the ensuing debate that we will have.
Making housing more affordable is something that we need to look at, including where the federal government can influence the activities within the marketplace, so that young people, young Canadians, have the dream of owning a home again. Right now, it is increasingly out of reach, and paying for rent has become more expensive across the country. This is really affecting younger Canadians, as well as people who are just trying to get their foot into the market.
The housing crisis has an impact on our economy. When people are not succeeding, our economy does not succeed. Without more homes in our communities, it is difficult for businesses to attract the workers they need to grow and succeed. When people spend more of their income on housing, it means less money is being spent in our communities for necessities such as groceries. This has a direct impact on small business.
Bill C-56 would enhance the goods and services tax rental rebate on new purpose-built rental housing; this would encourage the construction of more rental homes, including apartment buildings, student housing and seniors' residences across Canada. The enhanced rebate would apply to projects for which construction began on or after September 14, 2023, and on or before December 31, 2030, with construction completed before 2036.
Working on the supply is an important part of what the federal government could do to help. For a two-bedroom rental unit valued at $500,000, for a developer, the enhanced GST rental rebate would deliver $25,000 in tax relief to incent the developer to make the numbers work. This tool could help create the necessary conditions to build the types of housing that we need and that families want to live in. This, in turn, would open up the opportunity for renters to have a reduction in the cost they are paying for the units that are constructed.
The measure also removes a restriction on the existing GST rules to ensure that public service bodies, such as universities, public colleges, hospitals, charities and qualifying not-for-profit organizations, could build or purchase purpose-built rental housing and be permitted to claim 100% of the enhanced GST rental rebate.
The government is also calling on provinces that currently apply provincial sales tax or the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax to rental housing to join us by matching our rebate for new rental housing. It was very encouraging to hear that Ontario, the province where my riding exists, will be participating in this program.
We are also requesting that local governments put an end to exclusionary zoning and encourage building apartments near public transit in order to have their housing accelerator fund applications approved. I know that Guelph has worked hard on this application. We have had many community discussions around this, but sometimes the numbers just do not work. In those cases, programs such as the one we are initiating today, through this bill, would help the numbers to work.
Launched in March 2023, the housing accelerator fund is a $4-billion initiative designed to help cities, towns and indigenous governments unlock new housing supply, targeting about 100,000 units across the country; speed up development and approvals, like fixing out-of-date permitting systems; introduce zoning reforms to build more density; and incentive development close to public transit. Last week, the government announced that London, Ontario is the first city to benefit from this fund. Of course, Guelph is watching that very closely. The fund also supports the development of complete low-carbon and climate-resilient communities that are affordable, inclusive, equitable and diverse. Every community across Canada needs to build more homes faster so we can reduce the cost of housing for everyone.
We are also looking at how we can help Canadians with their grocery bills, and we need to stabilize the price of groceries in Canada. Through the one-time grocery rebate in July, we delivered targeted inflation relief for 11 million low- and modest-income Canadians and families who need it the most. It was up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two children and up to $234 for single Canadians without children, including seniors. This support was welcomed by Canadians, but we knew that more needed to be done to address the rising cost of groceries. The interim measure was really to address the increase in groceries and not actually the groceries' being purchased at a higher price every week. This is why we are taking immediate steps to enhance competition across the Canadian economy, with a focus on the grocery sector, to help stabilize costs for middle-class Canadians.
Through Bill C-56, the government would be introducing a first set of legislative amendments to the Competition Act, intended to provide the Competition Bureau with powers to compel the production of information in order to conduct effective and complete market studies and to remove the inefficiencies defence, which is currently allowing anti-competitive mergers to happen if the corporate efficiencies are being used as a reason for them to go forward. Canadian customers would still pay higher prices even if these efficiencies are realized. The bill would empower the bureau to take action against collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice, in particular, in situations where larger grocers prevent smaller competitors from establishing operations nearby.
This bill would build on our other measures that have been introduced to make life more affordable for Canadians. These include delivering the automatic advance payments of the Canada workers benefit, starting July 2023, to provide $1,518 total for eligible single workers and $2,616 for an eligible family, split among three advance payments and the final payment after a person has completed their 2023 tax return. We are also supporting three and a half million families annually through the tax-free Canada child benefit, with families this year receiving up to $7,437 per child under the age of six and $6,275 per child for children aged six through 17. Increasing old age security is another measure we have taken, including indexing that to inflation. We have also reduced fees for regulated child care by 50% on average, moving towards the cost of $10 a day by 2026, with six provinces and territories already reaching that goal.
We are looking at what we can do to influence the market to help people who are facing these costs. We are working on helping Canadians put food on their table, pay the rent and be successful within their communities. We want to ensure that Canada remains the best place in the world to live, work, go to school and raise a family. Making life more affordable is a key part of that.
I urge hon. members to support this legislation, and I am open to questions.