Residential builders encourage fall economic statement, but say additional action is needed

Following the release of the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, residential builders have expressed concerns and noted that more action is needed to tackle the housing crisis and public transit infrastructure in Canada.

The 2023 Fall Economic Statement is delivering the next phase of the government’s plan to help build more homes and protect renters, buyers, and homeowners, but while residential builders say it is encouraging, they have also expressed that more action is required.

With rapidly increasing global interest rates, many Canadians are struggling when it comes to finding an affordable place to live. The statement aims to respond to these challenges with targeted measures that will help stabilize housing prices, protect Canadians with mortgages, and make life more affordable in general.

The statement, which was released on November 21, 2023, highlights Canada’s Housing Action Plan, the government’s plan for a strong middle class and a plan to grow Canada’s economy.

Following the release of the statement, The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) acknowledged the federal government’s investments while addressing several concerns.

“Billion-dollar fixes are being proposed, but the housing supply crisis and affordability issue is a trillion-dollar problem, as noted by the CMHC,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall. “We are encouraged that housing is a main focus of the feds but there are still many impediments that were not addressed such as the enormous infrastructure funding gap faced by municipalities that impedes new home construction. We need a Marshall plan-styled strategy with respect to the chronic housing supply shortfall.”

“However, many impediments to housing construction were not addressed, such as reducing taxes associated with purchasing a home and the unacceptably long approvals process that builders must endure when starting a project. Without tackling these issues, and the huge infrastructure funding gap being faced by municipalities, the housing problem will not be solved. Municipalities are in a challenging position and the feds must pick up the slack by funding the necessary public infrastructure to support housing,” added Lyall.

Following the release of the statement, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) also acknowledged the federal government’s investments to support housing development while noting the importance of also investing in public transit infrastructure. CUTA  noted that without a significant investment in public transit infrastructure, transit agencies in Canada cannot expand transit networks to meet rising demand and ensure new housing developments are integrated with public transit.

With transit agencies facing significant budgetary challenges, CUTA continues to call on the federal government to move up the start date of the Permanent Public Transit Fund (PPTF) to 2024. The planned rollout of the $3 billion annual PPTF in 2026 results in an infrastructure funding gap, according to CUTA, and leaves transit agencies facing capacity problems and mounting state of good repair backlogs.

“Canada’s economic well-being hinges on delivering affordability,” said CUTA President, Marco D’Angelo. “Adequately supporting housing and transportation, the two largest expenses for Canadian families, is critical to maintaining quality of life for all Canadians.”

CUTA will be looking to the 2024 federal budget for funding and financing required to support the maintenance and growth of the public transit infrastructure in Canada.

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