Federal cabinet retreat: a summit won’t solve the housing crisis

Montreal, 23 August 2023 – he Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a Quebec-based housing rights group, is concerned that the Liberal government’s national summit on the housing crisis is just a way to buy time. « The Trudeau government seems to forget that it has set up a National Housing Strategy, which itself presents as a plan worth more than $82 billion over 10 years, but which completely misses the mark, » said Véronique Laflamme. « This is what the government can and must address immediately, » she added.

FRAPRU reminds us that, in recent years, the strategy has been the subject of a number of criticisms, but also of concrete proposals, from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Auditor General of Canada, the National Housing Council, Federal Housing Advocate Marie-Josée Houle and several community organizations. The main criticism of the federal plan is that it does not address the most urgent needs. According to Véronique Laflamme, « It is the very direction of the Strategy that needs to be reviewed, since its sole purpose is to build more and more housing, without any concern for its affordability for the individuals and families who are the main victims of the crisis. »

FRAPRU states that, according to the latest progress reports for the Strategy, more than 30% of the housing funded by the plan’s two most costly initiatives, the National Housing Co-Investment Funding and the Rental Construction Financing Initiative are not even considered affordable by CMHC. « Yet even what the crown corporation calls affordable housing is far too expensive for low- and even modest-income households, » Laflamme said. Progress reports also show that barely 12.0% of the contributions and loans for the construction and renovation of housing in the Strategy were awarded in Quebec, which is a tremendous underrepresentation considering its demographic weight within Canada.

For FRAPRU, only the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), funded three times by the federal government for a total of $4 billion, escapes criticism, as it is dedicated to the development of non-profit projects for Aboriginals, people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations. However, the last federal budget did not contain any new investments in the sector. According to Véronique Laflamme, « Not only does the latter initiative urgently need to be refinanced, but all of the strategy’s funds must be directed to the non-market sector. » She added that social housing is the only way to improve the situation of low- and modest-income renter households and homeless individuals and families, and to progress in implementing the right to housing, which, according to the law adapted for it in June 2019, is one of the objectives of the strategy.

Why another summit?

« Why is the Trudeau government contemplating another summit on the crisis, when its Minister of Housing held one on February 24, 2022, on the housing supply in Canada, which produced absolutely nothing? » Laflamme asked. She also said she was struck by the fact that the term « housing crisis » has become a catch-all phrase, making it possible to level the playing field for such urgent problems as the shortage of rental housing, inadequate housing or the multiplication of homeless camps and… the difficulty of middle-class households in achieving homeownership. « It is not a matter of denying the problems experienced in this area, but of clearly identifying priorities, » Laflamme concluded.


For further information Véronique Laflamme, FRAPRU’S spokesperson: 418 956-3403 (cell.)