Mr. Speaker, I will splitting my time with the member for Richmond Hill.
It is an honour to rise to participate in today's debate in support of Bill C-56, the affordable housing and groceries act. I have heard from many residents in my riding of Don Valley West about the rising prices they face every day, about the impact of inflation on their daily lives, and especially about the rising cost of rental apartments and high grocery prices.
Powerful measures are indeed needed to lower the costs of those two essential expenses for many families in Don Valley West, in Toronto and across Canada, those being housing and groceries. They are absolutely essential for our well-being in every sense of the word, and we need to take absolutely strong steps. Bill C-56 lays out some of the steps that the government needs to do to address this situation.
Our government indeed wants to put money in the pockets of middle-class Canadians at a time when they need it most. Our whole world is facing, and continues to face, supply chain crises and rising prices around the world, and Canada is no exception to that.
Bill C-56 addresses the housing costs that are far too high for far too many Canadians. This bill would enable the government to incentivize the construction of much-needed rental homes by removing the GST on the construction of new rental housing. To get it done, the bill would implement a temporary enhancement to the GST new residential rental property rebate in respect of new, purpose-built rental housing.
Just before this announcement was made in mid-September, a builder approached me in my own riding to say that he had successfully constructed a number of rental units and had approvals for many hundreds more, but was putting it on hold with the high costs in today's economy. He immediately spoke to me the next day and thanked me for this decision of the government because that incentivized and enabled him to take up the challenge to build more rental units.
For example, a two-bedroom rental unit that costs about $500,000 to construct, with the enhanced GST rental rebate, would now have $25,000 in tax relief, a significant move to lower the costs of construction of new rental units. This is another tool to create the necessary conditions to build the types of housing we need and that families want to live in.
The federal government cannot do this alone. We are calling on all provinces that currently apply provincial sales taxes to join Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and perhaps others who have announced that they will be reducing or eliminating the provincial portion of the HST on rental housing. We want all provinces and territories to join in on this, matching our rebate for new rental housing.
We have been leading the charge to make sure that an entire generation is not priced out of owning a home or even renting one. In budget 2022, we announced targeted and responsible investments that would help provide Canadians an affordable place to call home. Budget 2022 laid out important steps toward building more houses, helping people save for their first home, curbing speculation and unfair practices that are driving up housing prices.
Among those measures, the government unveiled the tax-free first home savings account to allow Canadians to save up to $40,000 tax-free to help buy their first home. We also launched the rapid housing initiative, which is providing $1.5 billion to create 4,500 new affordable housing units.
Since then, we have kept up our fight to help families. We are acting quickly to make a difference, but we recognize, very strongly, that there is more to do. We know boosting Canada's housing supply is critical to easing affordability challenges.
Earlier this month, we announced the government's first agreement under the $4-billion housing accelerator fund, which was launched earlier this year to cut red tape and fix outdated local policies, such as zoning, and build more homes faster. This is an inter-governmental problem, and we need governments at every level to engage in the solutions, whether it is municipalities, provinces or our own federal government.
This initial agreement would provide some $74 million to increase the housing supply in London, Ontario. We believe many more agreements are to follow, and would encourage all members of the House to look for opportunities and to talk to their municipalities about this fund.
There is more. We will recommend that local governments end exclusionary zoning and encourage building apartments near public transit to have their housing accelerator fund applications approved. Our plan to double the rate of housing construction over the next decade will help build the housing supply we need. We will continue to work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as indigenous partners to keep building more homes.
Building the homes a growing Canada needs will require a national effort, and the federal government is ready to lead. What we need first, obviously, are roofs over our heads. It is critical that people have affordable and attainable housing that will ensure they have that roof over their heads. Once they have the roof over their head, what they need is food to put on the table that is under that roof.
As I mentioned, the reach of Bill C-56 is also designed to help address escalating grocery prices. Last week, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry summoned the leaders of Canada's largest grocery chains to begin urgent discussions so we can move quickly to stabilize food prices. Yesterday, our government met with major international food processors, going up the chain, to continue our efforts to bring relief for Canadian consumers.
We are considering all tools at our disposal to restore grocery price stability. In an era when the whole world is facing a crisis in rising food prices, we cannot do this alone, but we will take the steps we can do as a federal government to bring grocery prices down so Canadians can eat well.
Bill C-56 would take the first legislative steps to enhance competition, with a focus on the grocery sector, by amending the Competition Act. Among the most recent amendments, the bill would grant the Competition Bureau with powers to compel the production of information to conduct effective and complete market studies. Bill C-56 would also empower the bureau to take action against collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice, in particular situations where large grocers prevent small competitors from establishing operations nearby.
In conclusion, since 2015, the federal government has been working hard to ease the financial strain on Canadian families through the Canada child benefit, a middle-class tax cut, and in the next few years, $10-a-day regulated child care on average all across the country.
We have strengthened the social safety net that millions of Canadians count on. We will continue to be there for Canadians, making sure they have a roof over their heads, groceries they can afford and the benefits they need to continue to prosper and excel in this country.