Key housing-related investments in the 2024 budgets

The federal, provincial, and territorial governments have significant resources and policy levers at their disposal to tackle the housing affordability crisis and ensure secure, affordable homes for everyone in Canada. Below, we outline key housing-related investments in each of the 2024 federal, provincial, and territorial budgets and assess their potential to advance the right to housing by supporting renters and investing in affordable housing. 


FEDERAL

Budget 2024: Fairness for Every Generation

It is encouraging to see the federal government take a leadership role in tackling the housing crisis through a comprehensive approach by investing in a range of programs to increase housing supply, preserve and build affordable housing, protect renters, and address homelessness. 

However, it is concerning that the government remains focused primarily on building more housing supply, despite evidence that more supply will not address housing affordability. In addition, that budget is missing a number of measures that CCHR recommended, including leveraging public lands for deeply affordable housing, expanding the Canada Housing Benefit, increasing investments in the Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous housing strategy, and implementing measures to address the financialization of housing and advance the right to housing. Read CCHR’s in-depth analysis here

Reiterating many of the announcements from the recent Canada Housing Plan, the 2024 federal budget includes several key housing commitments. Highlights include:  

  • An additional $15 billion for the Apartment Construction Loan Program. 
  • $6 billion for a new Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund
  • $4.3 billion over seven years to an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous housing strategy, previously announced. 
  • $1.5 billion for a new Canada Rental Protection Fund for non-profits to acquire and protect low-end of market rentals. 
  • $1.5 for the Co-operative Housing Development Program, previously announced. 
  • An additional $1 billion to the Reaching Home homelessness strategy, plus $250 million to address encampments. 
  • An additional $1 billion to the Rapid Housing Stream under the Affordable Housing Fund. 
  • Continuation of the existing $960 million Interim Housing Assistance Program
  • An additional $400 million for the Housing Accelerator Fund. 
  • $15 million for a new Tenant Protection Fund. 
  • A new Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights
  • Launching a Public Lands for Homes Plan, including $500 million towards a Public Lands Acquisition Fund and $116.9 million to top up the Federal Lands Initiative.  
  • Launching Canada Builds through a combination of federal low-cost loans and provincial and territorial investments.  
  • Removing GST from new co-ops and student housing, plus new rental apartment construction, previously announced. 

ATLANTIC CANADA

New brunswick 

Budget 2024-25 – Stronger than Ever: Let’s Keep Building 

The 2024-25 budget increases investments in housing by 54 per cent over its previous budget. To reach provincial targets to reduce the number of households spending over 30 per cent of their income on rent and decrease the number of households on the subsidized housing waitlist, the budget prioritizes the provision of rent supplements. The government also aims to hold annual rent increases at an average of 2.5 per cent. However, rather than reinstating ever loosening rent regulations, the province intends to achieve that target by relying on the construction of new housing supply. Yet, in the absence of strong rent regulations, new supply on its own will not keep rent increases reasonable.  

Development of the community housing sector is largely absent from this budget, with only 380 public housing units targeted for development over three years. Meanwhile, housing advocates have emphasized the need for investments to create 10,000 public housing units and preserve currently affordable units and land

New Brunswick’s 2024-2025 budget includes many of the investments committed in the 2023 NB Housing Strategy: Housing For All

  • $100 million over three years to build new public housing units.  
  • $22 million for a direct-to-tenant rental benefit for families and seniors in core housing need. 
  • $11 million in permanent funding for homelessness responses, including operational funding for emergency shelters and Homeless Hubs, prevention and diversion services, and supportive housing development.  
  • $8.9 million for rent supplements
  • $5.5 million through the Canada Housing Benefit to help an additional 1,200 New Brunswick households. 
  • $3.5 million through the Canada Housing Benefit to support survivors of gender-based violence
  • $3 million through the Rent Bank to support renter households in arrears. 
  • $2.6 million to build affordable houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.  
  • $2.5 million to support the development and repair of rental units.  


Newfoundland and labrador

Budget 2024 – Transforming: Our Health. Our Economy. Our Province

Through its 2024 budget, the province makes some investments to build and maintain public and supportive housing, while funding rent supplements and initiatives to stimulate market housing construction more generously. While CMHC forecasted that Newfoundland requires an additional 60,000 homes by 2030 beyond typical development trends, there are 17,510 households that require affordable housing now

Advocates welcomed new funding toward affordable housing and homelessness initiatives, especially given that 50 per cent of the population experiencing homelessness in St. John’s are from other areas of the province, while the city has limited resources to adequately address the depth of need. 

Newfoundland and Labrador’s 2024 Budget contains the following housing investments:  

  • $50 million for the Rental Housing Development Loan Program
  • $36 million over four years to build new provincial housing units
  • $30 million over three years for the construction of a new service hub to provide integrated health and housing supports for people experiencing homelessness
  • $21 million for private market rent supplements
  • $13 million for the Transitional Supportive Living Initiative
  • $12 million over four years for targeted provincial housing repairs and modernization, plus an $8 million increase to the overall provincial housing repairs, maintenance, and renovations budget
  • $4 million to continue the Secondary and Basement Suite Program
  • $3 million to rebate HST on new residential rental development
  • $1.5 million for new supportive housing units and low-barrier emergency shelter beds


NOVA SCOTIA 

Building Nova Scotia, Faster: Budget 2024-25 

The 2024-25 budget invests heavily in initiatives to create more housing supply, following the province’s recent Housing Needs Assessment Report. The report identified the need for more student housing to lessen demand elsewhere in the market, while also noting the increasing cost of construction and employment vacancies in the construction industry as barriers to new housing supply. 

With a budget focused largely on supply, investment in initiatives to protect affordable housing and assist households currently struggling with affordability are sorely missed. As we identified in our pre-budget submission, 8,500 rent supplements and modest investment in new public housing are insufficient to meet the needs of low- and moderate-income Nova Scotians.  

Moreover, the rent regulation framework in Nova Scotia allows landlords to raise rents with impunity when there is renter turnover. A fixed-term lease loophole, which permits the use of leases with end dates, allows landlords to continually turnover units to new renters at higher rents. The government’s lack of action towards preserving existing affordable units and/or providing all renters with security of tenure is a glaring gap that will allow rents to continue to rise to unattainable levels, despite new supply. 

Housing related investments in the 2024-2025 Nova Scotia budget include: 

  • $84.6 million for initiatives to address homelessness, including new supportive housing units and operational funding for shelters.  
  • $80-$100 million annually (estimated) in HST rebates on new purpose-built, multi-unit apartments.  
  • $69.2 million for rent supplements
  • $35.3 million to build and repair public housing units.  
  • $32.1 million for student housing
  • $11.8 million for modular public housing.  
  • $3.6 million for a rapid housing initiative to develop new affordable housing units. 


Prince edward island

2024-25 Prince Edward Island Budget 

It is encouraging to see the budget prioritize investments to build, preserve, and operate non-profit, co-operative, and public housing, which is critical to support households in greatest housing need and ensure long term affordability. However, housing advocates noted that PEI has lost a significant number of affordable housing units and questioned the efficacy of the budget’s level of investment in preservation and development efforts at this stage in the housing crisis. 

The budget also fails to provide support for existing renters, following calls from advocates and opposition parties for an extension of the expired moratorium on renovictions until November 2024, in the midst of record-low vacancy rates. Advocates have similarly been seeking further renter supports and protections, including a rent registry to prevent illegal rent increases and a provincial maintenance standards regulation enforced through public inspectors (following the dilution of maintenance standards in the recently updated Residential Tenancy Act). 

The 2024-25 Prince Edward Island (PEI) operating budget follows the launch of its five-year housing strategy and includes: 

  • $10 million for the new Community Housing Expansion Program to build and preserve affordable housing with non-profits and co-ops. 
  • $6.9 million to expand shelter spaces and supports.  
  • $6.7 million in tax rebates for new multi-unit residential buildings, including HST and property tax rebates. 
  • $1.6 million for PEI Housing Corporation to operate new social housing units. 
  • $200,000 to develop PEI’s Land Use Plan

CENTRAL CANADA

ONTARIO

2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario

Aside from the modest supportive housing investments, the budget prioritizes “attainable” housing initiatives (which it has yet to define), with minimal commitments toward preserving and building deeply affordable, non-market housing for low income households. This is reflected in current trends, as the vast majority of provincial housing starts over the past year have been in the private market. The promise of supportive housing development next year pales in comparison to the current depth of need, including for people experiencing homelessness.  

The budget also fails to provide support or stabilization for renters, such as housing subsidies, stronger rent regulations, and greater accountability and enforcement of renter rights. Further, housing advocates had called for the budget to invest in a community housing acquisition fund, an urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy, and mechanisms to address financialization and implement the right to housing. 

Following its recent red tape reduction bill, the province continues to prioritize initiatives to stimulate new housing supply with insufficient or absent affordability requirements. It also remains to be seen whether Ontario will receive National Housing Strategy funding after failing to meet its commitments to build more affordable housing. 

The 2024 Ontario budget includes some new and previously announced housing investments, focused primarily on building new supply: 

  • $1.8 billion over three years for the new Municipal Infrastructure Program and enhanced Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund to support housing-enabling infrastructure. 
  • $152 million over three years for supportive housing, including rent supplements and support for units with expiring operating agreements, with new supportive housing development to be considered next year. 
  • Enabling municipalities to lower property taxes for new purpose-built rentals and implement a vacant home tax. 
  • Developing an attainable housing program, including modular and other innovative construction methods. 
  • Prioritizing surplus public properties for government priorities, including attainable housing. 


QUEBEC

2024 Quebec Budget: Priorities: Health and Education 

The Quebec budget brings investments in housing to $6.3 billion between 2019 and 2029, with the aim of creating 23,000 new affordable housing units across the province. However, funding for housing decreased by 4.9 per cent compared to last year, while construction is lagging, with close to 12,500 new units already funded but not yet built

FRAPRU and other housing advocates expressed their disappointment in the lack of meaningful investments in social and non-profit housing, calling for the government to double its current housing supply targets and build 50,000 social housing units by 2029 to meet the needs of Quebec renters.  

The 2024 Quebec budget outlines how previous funding commitments will be disbursed between existing housing programs over the next five years: 

  • $1.8 billion in cost-match funding with the federal government through the Housing Accelerator Fund
  • $532 million for homelessness prevention, including $282 million for transitional and social housing. 
  • $483 million for affordable housing, including $219 million to maintain and repair existing social housing stock and $200 million to increase rent supplements under the Shelter Allowance Program (Programme Allocation-logement). 
  • $375 million to build seniors housing
  • $7.5 million to build student housing

WESTERN CANADA

MANITOBA

One Future. One People. One Manitoba. Budget 2024 

Prior to the release of the budget, CCHR outlined several priorities for housing investments through our advocacy and media engagement. While the 2024 budget funds the acquisition or construction of new affordable housing, the 350 units of social housing promised is far short of the 1,000 rent-geared-to-income housing units needed, according to Manitoba’s Right to Housing Coalition. Moreover, the $67.8 million investment in social housing capital maintenance and modernization is welcome, but accounts for less than half of what the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association says is needed each year to ensure the sustainability of the community housing sector. 

Under the newly created department of Housing, Addictions and Homelessness, the 2024 Manitoba budget includes:  

  • $67.8 million to modernize existing social housing and $4.4 million to maintain operating subsidies, previously announced.  
  • $20 million for a Capital Grant Program for community housing providers to increase affordable housing supply through acquisition, renovation, or new construction.  
  • $15 million for the Rent Assist housing benefit.  
  • $10 million for an Affordable Housing Partnership Program targeting the private sector, municipal, and Indigenous governments to increase affordable housing supply.  
  • A new $6 million Acquisition Fund for non-profits to acquire existing units. 
  • $5 million for housing supports to end chronic homelessness
  • $4 million for renovation of existing non-profit housing, plus $4 million for routine maintenance of Manitoba Housing units.   
  • $1 million for the Rent Relief Fund, which provides loans for renters in arears.  
  • $1 million for a Pest Control Program for Manitoba Housing  
  • A new Rental Housing Construction Tax Credit


saskatchewan

2024-25 Saskatchewan Budget: Classrooms, Care & Communities 

It is encouraging that the Saskatchewan government is focusing most of its new housing-related budget spending on social housing maintenance, alongside investments in supportive housing and other homelessness supports. However, long-term government divestment from its public housing portfolio has led to significant maintenance and repair backlogs, record vacancy levels, and overall reduction in the provincial social housing stock. In tandem with policy changes reducing the eligibility of moderate-income households to access subsidized housing, this approach has led to increased rates of homelessness and housing need across the province. 

While the budget includes incentives for private sector housing development through tax rebates and funding for secondary suites, it fails to invest in the expansion of affordable, non-market housing, which is fundamental to meet the needs of low and moderate-income households, especially in light of the limited availability and habitability of its existing public housing stock. Moreover, the budget includes minimal support for renters, with a minor increase to shelter benefits available to SIS recipients (following previous cuts) and no additional investments in the Saskatchewan Housing Benefit. 

The 2024-25 Saskatchewan budget includes: 

  • $23.1 million for the Provincial Approach to Homelessness for emergency shelter operations and supportive housing development. 
  • $20.2 million for the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation to repair and maintain social housing units. 
  • $7.4 million to increase Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) basic and shelter benefits by three per cent, up to $60 monthly per household. 
  • $2.7 million for the Saskatchewan Secondary Suite Incentive Grant Program
  • Ongoing Provincial Sales Tax (PST) rebate on the New Home Construction Program. 


ALBERTA

2024 Alberta Budget: A Responsible Plan for a Growing Province 

Alberta’s total budget for housing and homelessness exceeds $1 billion in funding, with $829 million to build new affordable housing and preserve existing units, representing a 75 per cent increase from last year’s budget. It is promising to see the Alberta government increasing housing supports for marginalized populations and dedicating more funding toward subsidized housing and non-profit housing providers.  

However, over half of the budget’s capital investments are geared towards private sector incentives, while funding for housing affordability pales in comparison with the depth of need, particularly for low-income renters. Budget 2024 provides assistance to 5,650 households, in addition to the 58,600 the province is currently supporting, which represents a mere 3.5 per cent of all households in need. Additionally, in spite of a strong start to 2024 for new builds, home prices are surging and rents have increased to a record high.  

Housing advocates in Calgary have lauded the more progressive measures in the housing budget, while advocates in Edmonton have deplored cuts made to emergency assistance funding. While the budget addresses some of the measures that CCHR recommended, it is missing crucial measures to improve housing affordability, such as prioritizing non-profit developers to build new affordable supply and indexing rent supplements to inflation. Without strong rent regulations and meaningful investments in social and community housing, the encouraging steps the government has taken to increase housing supports and preserve existing units will signify little in the face of escalating housing and living costs. 

The 2024 Alberta budget increases investments over the next three years to advance existing housing and shelter programs, focusing on building new supply: 

  • $717 million in capital grants through Alberta’s Affordable Housing Strategy, including: 
    • $405 million for the Affordable Housing Partnership Program, which provides funding or land to incentivize developers to build affordable housing. 
    • $130 million for the Seniors Lodge Modernization Program
    • $91 million for the maintenance and renewal of government-owned social housing buildings
    • $75 million for the Indigenous Housing Capital Program to build, purchase, or redevelop Indigenous housing. 
  • $257 million for Alberta Social Housing Corporation operations
  • $170 million in combined funding under the Homelessness Task Force Action Plan, the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Program and Alberta’s Safe Streets Action Plan, to support shelter providers and improve shelter spaces and services, prioritizing women with experience of domestic violence. 
  • $121 million for capital maintenance and renewal of seniors’ facilities. 
  • $75 million in operating funding to support community and non-profit housing providers


British Columbia

Budget 2024: Taking action for people and families in B.C. 

While the 2024 budget for housing is modest compared to the previous year, the province is still making significant investments in housing that complement a string of recent legislative measures to increase residential density, protect renters, and preserve affordable housing. Over the next three years, $2.4 billion in capital spending will be dedicated to housing, with an 115 per cent increase in funding for housing subsidies and incentives.  

However, while the introduction of additional supports for renters has been welcomed, the budget continues to prioritize attainable homeownership for moderate-income households. The new supply expected under B.C. Builds would need to be 12 to 15 times higher to meet demand for housing across the province. As B.C. continues to lead the country in high rent prices, current housing investments are insufficient to provide enough affordable housing for low- to moderate-income renters. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association note that the tax exemption funding for homeownership, along with the homeowner grant program, could be put to better use if directed towards rent supports and investments in non-market supply. 

The 2024 B.C. budget prioritizes supports for renters, while continuing to fund new housing supply over the next three years:  

  • $267 million to launch the Renter’s Tax Credit, which provides up to $400 in tax exemption to low- and moderate-income renters. 
  • $198 million in new funding for BC Builds on top of the $950 million already committed, to speed up the development of new housing for middle-income households. 
  • $151 million to develop Indigenous-led social housing and community services. 
  • $116 million in operational funding to support existing housing programs and maintain shelter spaces
  • $100 million to increase the limits on tax exemption programs to stimulate demand for homeownership. 
  • $4 million to extend the Property Transfer Tax exemption to purpose-built rental buildings of four or more units, until 2030. 

NORTHERN CANADA

NUNAVUT

Nunavut Budget 2024-2025  

Most renter households in Nunavut have limited interaction with the market. In Iqaluit, for instance, most of the rental housing is non-market based. Leases are typically held by government organizations and rented out as social housing through the Nunavut Housing Corporation (which administers 22 per cent of all rental units in Iqaluit) or as government staff housing. Employers also typically hold leases and rent units out as employee housing for private firms. As such, housing funding in the budget is mainly directed towards maintaining existing and building new public housing.  

However, Nunavut has the highest level of housing need in Canada. Approximately 49 per cent of the population cannot secure housing that is affordable in the private market, which underscores the need for more rental supplements to support renters in the private market, in addition to the current funding commitments for public sector housing.  

The 2024-2025 Nunavut budget includes:  

  • $82.7 million to build new public and staff housing, including through the Nunavut 3000 plan, plus support for home ownership and repairs. 
  • $7.7 million for additional public housing for local housing authorities
  • $7.5 million for supportive housing
  • $1.9 million for shelters


YUKON

Yukon Budget 2024-2025 

It is promising to see funding going towards renovating units owned by the Yukon Housing Corporation, through which the territorial government provides a significant amount of affordable housing stock. It is also encouraging to see funding for new affordable homes and Housing First projects, the development of supportive units and rental housing, and rental subsidies. Investments in rental subsidies are crucial, as the most recent data available shows that 20 per cent of families in Whitehorse cannot afford market housing without financial assistance.  

Some advocates have called for greater investment in rural land development to improve housing access. CCHR has recommended that land development policies should prioritize affordable and non-profit housing to ensure that public investments result in deeply affordable housing units. 

The 2024-2025 Yukon budget includes:  

  • $27.3 million to build affordable homes, community housing and Housing First projects and replace aging units
  • $25.9 million to support land development across the Yukon, including for housing. 
  • $8.3 million for rental housing development
  • $6 million to develop supportive housing units
  • $5.5 million in loans for individuals and developers to buy and build houses, and for homeowners to repair their principal residence. 
  • $2 million to renovate and rehabilitate Yukon Housing Corporation units
  • $1.2 million in rental subsidies through the Canada-Yukon Housing Benefit. 
  • $2.1 million in rental subsidies for people escaping gender-based violence


On April 12, 2024, the federal government unveiled a new housing strategy – Canada’s Housing Plan – as a significant part of its 2024 budget. The plan aims to “solve the housing crisis” by investing in programs to increase housing supply, preserve and build affordable housing, protect renters, and address homelessness.

It is encouraging to see the federal government take a leadership role in tackling the housing crisis through a comprehensive approach with significant new investments and a suite of measures. This demonstrates the government’s recognition that building more supply alone will not address the housing crisis, and that distinct policies and programs are needed to ensure housing affordability.

However, we are concerned that the government remains focused primarily on building more housing supply as the key solution to the crisis, despite evidence that more supply will not address the primary challenge facing millions of people across Canada today: affordability. To effectively address the housing affordability crisis, the government must prioritize policies and programs that specifically address housing affordability, alongside robust protections for renters.

The good news – measures that address housing affordability 

Canada’s Housing Plan contains a number of promising measures that can help address housing affordability, representing a renewed federal approach to housing policy following decades of inaction and half measures. Beginning in the 1980s, Canadian governments progressively retreated from these important interventions in housing, and since then, have relied almost exclusively on the private market to meet Canadians’ diverse housing needs. In 2017, the federal government introduced a National Housing Strategy, but it was unambitious, underfunded, and proved to be ineffective. The housing affordability crisis has continued to worsen, to the point that more than half of Canadian renters are worried about being able to pay their rent. This new plan sends an encouraging signal that the government may finally be starting to take the crisis seriously. 

It is also encouraging that the plan includes some recognition of the need for distinct programs and policies that directly target affordability, which we recommended in our pre-budget submission. These measures include, over the next five years: 

  • An additional $1 billion to the Rapid Housing Stream (RHS) of the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF). The RHS (formerly a separate program called the Rapid Housing Initiative) has been more successful than other NHS funding streams at creating affordable and non-profit housing. This brings the total funding to date under both programs to $18.8 billion. 
  • A new $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund for non-profits and other partners to identify and purchase affordable private-market buildings at risk of rent increases and renter displacement, which will help maintain tenancies and keep rents affordable over the long term. Housing advocates have long called for this type of acquisition program
  • Launching a $1.5 billion funding program to support co-operative housing developments, which was previously announced in the 2022 federal budget. Co-operatives are one of the few models that can provide long-term affordable rents outside the private market.  
  • An additional $1.3 billion to the Reaching Home homelessness program, including $250 million over two years to address encampments by supporting rights-based community action plans that use a Housing First approach. This brings the total funding for the program to date to $5.3 billion.  
  • The continuation of the existing $960 million Interim Housing Assistance Program to prevent homelessness amongst asylum claimants.  
  • $4.3 billion over seven years to an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous housing strategy. This is existing funding that the government had previously committed in its 2023 budget, to start in 2024-2025. 

These are important programs that housing advocates have long called for to address the escalating housing affordability crisis. While we welcome these announcements, they pale in comparison to the depth of need across the country. The total investment of $27.1 billion (including the new funding of $3.8 billion) directed toward affordability measures and addressing homelessness is not responsive to the scale of the housing affordability crisis. To take just two examples: Canada is currently losing 46,000 affordable units annually to rent increases, demolitions, and conversions, but the Canada Rental Protection Fund will prevent the loss of only 2,500 – just over five per cent – of those units. Similarly, to address the depth of housing need facing Indigenous Peoples living in urban, rural and northern areas, estimates range from $4.3 billion to $5.6 billion per year over ten years, but the government has committed only $600 million per year over seven years.

The promising news – measures that could meaningfully protect renters’ rights

Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights 

One of the most promising announcements in Canada’s Housing Plan is the development of a Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights. Renters across the country are facing soaring rent costs, few affordable options, and limited housing security. Without adequate protections against excessive rents, rent gouging, and eviction, renters are increasingly facing housing precarity and homelessness. Current renter protections are a patchwork and vary significantly between provinces and territories. At a minimum, the Renters’ Bill of Rights could help ensure all renters have the right to reasonable rents and protection from eviction, while helping to mitigate the ongoing loss of existing affordable homes when renters are evicted or displaced.   

To develop an effective Renters’ Bill of Rights, the federal government must engage with renter communities, organizations that represent them, and legal experts on renter protections to ensure that it reflects renters’ real-life experiences. The right to a reasonable rent is especially important given the low level of investment in direct housing affordability measures in Canada’s Housing Plan. In the absence of sufficient investments in non-market housing, most renters in Canada will continue living in private market buildings. With only five per cent of Canada’s housing stock owned by the public and non-profit sectors, housing prices are dictated by market forces. Effective rent regulation is essential to uphold renters’ rights. 

The Renters’ Bill of Rights could provide a crucial standard for every province and territory to strive towards. While this will require cooperation between different levels of government, it is not unprecedented. For example, over the course of 20 years after it was introduced by the federal government, the National Building Code was adopted by every province and territory as a standard for building design and construction. We are also encouraged that the federal government is looking to hold other levels of government accountable by making some housing funding conditional on provinces and territories adopting elements of the Renters’ Bill of Rights. When the federal government funds housing development, it is reasonable to expect that the housing it funds will be secure and affordable for the people who live in it.

Other supports for renters 

We are glad to see the federal government recognize the need for legal aid for renters, alongside support for organizations that raise awareness of renters’ rights through its new Tenant Protection Fund. However, $15 million over five years is not nearly enough to respond to the level of need facing renters, especially considering the limited resources currently available for renters facing displacement and discrimination across the country.  

We are also pleased to see the government introduce new rules to allow renters to decide if they would like their rental payment history to be taken into account for their credit score. This opt-in approach will help ensure that renters who are struggling to pay their rent on time due to the mounting housing affordability crisis are not negatively impacted.

The indifferent news – measures that will not address affordability

While it is encouraging that the government has recognized affordability and renters’ rights in its housing plan, those are disproportionately small parts of the overall strategy. In contrast, measures to incentivize the private market to build more housing comprise the vast majority of the plan. These include a little over $66.3 billion in grants, loans, and other supports for developers, and changes to zoning and permitting rules to make building quicker and cheaper. It also includes a freeze on the fees that municipalities can charge developers, a previously announced GST rebate for rental construction, and other tax breaks, all of which represent additional costs of lost tax revenue. These amounts together represent a much larger allocation than the $27.1 billion allocated to affordable housing and addressing homelessness.

In the absence of robust affordability requirements, new private market housing will not be affordable, especially for low- and moderate-income residents. Moreover, increasing supply does not meaningfully lower rents in existing homes. The supply approach is contingent on higher income residents moving into new higher-cost homes, freeing up their existing lower-cost homes to be passed on to low- and moderate-income residents. However, in the absence of effective rent regulation, there is nothing keeping those existing homes affordable. Even the  strongest proponents of the supply approach acknowledge that rent decreases spurred by new supply are negligible. Empirical studies have found that building supply “was so slow and had so little effect on providing housing to lower income tenants that it could not be pursued as a serious policy strategy” and “is not a meaningful method for producing affordable rental housing.”

In short, the government’s plan to address housing supply shortages in the private market will not meaningfully impact the affordability crisis. To address affordability, new construction must prioritize publicly-owned, non-profit, and co-operative homes. At the same time, new housing built by the private market must be subject to strict affordability requirements to justify public investment.

Unfortunately, the government’s housing plan does not signal that it intends for its significant investments in housing supply to provide affordability. On the contrary, the government noted that existing affordability requirements in the Apartment Construction Loan Program – which are already minimal, inadequate, and ineffective – will be made more “flexible.” In short, the bulk of the government’s plan is to incentivize developers to build more housing that will be unaffordable to most people in Canada.

What’s missing 

Leveraging public lands for affordable housing

We are glad to see the federal government launch a new Public Lands for Homes Plan, which aims to leverage publicly-owned lands for housing development, including by leasing lands to retain public ownership over the long term. However, it is critical that public lands and other assets be prioritized for non-market housing to maximize the use of public lands for housing that is truly affordable to communities in need. We are concerned that this new plan fails to do so, reinforcing the government’s overall focus on housing supply over affordability. However, it is encouraging that the government is proposing to prioritize non-market and student housing as part of its plan to convert underused federal offices.

 
Expanding the Canada Housing Benefit 

We are disappointed that Canada’s Housing Plan does not include additional investments in the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB), which provides low-income renters in the private market with funding to help them keep their homes. While rent supplements like the CHB can be a double-edged sword that allow landlords to increase rents in the absence of rent controls, they are also important short-term solutions that can help keep low-income renters housed in the midst of a housing affordability crisis. Paired with a strong Renters’ Bill of Rights, an expansion of the CHB could help protect affordability and security for many low-income renters across the country.

 
Addressing the financialization of housing

Canada’s Housing Plan includes minimal mention of the role that financialization has played in the housing crisis. In so far as the government is seeking to address the financialization of housing, it intends to consult on opportunities to limit the acquisition of single-family homes by large, corporate investors, with few details or clarity on what this will entail. However, financialization is a much more pervasive issue that threatens affordability and security across housing types. Beyond restricting the corporate acquisition of single-family homes, it is incumbent on the government to also address the growing speculative forces and increased role of financialized actors across the housing sector. In addition, the government should prioritize working closely with the National Housing Council, which recently wrapped up Canada’s first Review Panel to examine the impacts of the financialization of purpose-built rentals.

 
Advancing the right to housing 

Following the explicit focus of the National Housing Strategy (2017) and National Housing Strategy Act (2019) on advancing the right to adequate housing, we are disappointed that Canada’s Housing Plan makes minimal reference to the right to housing. Minimal support is included for the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate in the 2024 budget, while no additional support is provided for the National Housing Council or other organizations that support renters in claiming their right to housing. Considering the disproportionate impacts of the housing affordability crisis on low-income, racialized, and other marginalized communities, it is incumbent on the government to prioritize and maximize investments that will address the housing needs of those most impacted by the crisis.


The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:

NATIONAL

  • Federal government announces new measures for renters from upcoming budget  

    On March 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced measures from the upcoming federal budget to support renters, including a new $15 million Tenant Protection Fund to provide legal aid for renters, a Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights to empower renters by requiring landlords to disclose a history of rental pricing, combatting renovictions, creating a standard lease, and measures to ensure that renters get credit for on-time rent payments. The government’s stated aim is to address the housing affordability crisis and ensure generational fairness in the rental housing market. However, many questions remain regarding the details, development, and implementation of the Renters’ Bill of Rights, whether $15 million will be adequate to support renters across the country, and whether consideration of renters’ rental history, as part of the credit for on-time rent payments measure, could have negative impacts on their credit scores. Read our response here

  • Auditor General finds federal government has made little progress in improving First Nations housing

    In its latest report, Auditor General Karen Hogan found that Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) have made limited progress in improving housing in First Nations communities over the last twenty years. As of 2024, only 20 per cent of First Nations housing needs have been met, with insufficient homes being built and repaired, alongside long-standing issues like mould. Over the past five years, CMHC and ISC spent $3.8 billion to improve the housing situation in First Nations. However, this falls short of the estimated $44 billion required to address First Nations housing needs, alongside an additional $16 billion when factoring in population growth. The Auditor General previously reported on the government’s progress in improving First Nations Housing in 2003, 2006, and 2011, highlighting the government’s ongoing failure to address First Nations housing needs. The government must increase investments and work with First Nations to meet its goal of closing the First Nations housing gap by 2030.  

  • Poll shows that more Canadians view homelessness as a national concern 

    The homelessness crisis has become an issue of concern for most Canadians. A new research poll indicates that a majority of Canadians view homelessness as a national concern, with two thirds of respondents describing homelessness as a major problem, and 71 per cent noting an increase in homelessness over the past three years. In terms of solutions, public support is strong for mental health support and temporary housing options. The majority of respondents also support offering incentives for developers to build affordable housing, devoting tax dollars to housing for people experiencing homelessness, and zoning changes to allow more units on standard lots.  

ATLANTIC CANADA

NOVA SCOTIA 

  • Nova Scotia Liberal Party introduces rent regulation legislation  

    In response to Nova Scotia’s housing crisis, the Liberal housing critic introduced two private members’ bills on March 5. The Rent Regulation Act proposes to extend the temporary provincial rent cap, which is currently set to end at the end of 2025, until the vacancy rate hits four per cent or higher, with annual reviews focusing on affordability and market conditions. Additionally, the Liberals introduced a bill to create an independent housing authority, as recommended by the Affordable Housing Commission, which aims to boost housing development, enhance quality, and maintain affordability.  

CENTRAL CANADA

ONTARIO

  • Toronto City Council Committee considers whether Hamilton renoviction by-law can work in Toronto

    In response to escalating rates of renovictions, the City of Toronto is looking to Hamilton’s new anti-renovictions bylaw as a potential solution. A motion was passed at the Planning and Housing Committee that directs staff to provide a report that analyses the Hamilton by-law, and how a similar approach would work in Toronto. In 2022, the number of formal renovation eviction applications filed by landlords (known as N13’s) tripled in Toronto, compared to 2015. This number only accounts for evictions carried out through the formal process and likely represents a fraction of informal renovictions taking place in the city. The Hamilton bylaw requires landlords to secure a building permit and engineer’s report laying out renovation plans and confirming that the unit must be vacant for renovations to proceed. The bylaw also imposes stricter requirements for landlords to support renter relocation and ensure they can return to the unit once renovations are complete at the same rental rate. Such bylaws offer promising opportunities to preserve affordable rental housing supply, while protecting current renters’ security of tenure.  

  • Ontario Green Party introduces new legislation to protect tenants  

    On March 6, the Deputy Leader of the Ontario Green Party introduced the Keeping People Housed Act, which aims to protect renters in Ontario from rising rents and renovictions. The private members’ bill proposes extending rent control to all buildings (including those built after November 2018), reinstating vacancy control to limit rent hikes between tenancies, providing greater supports for renters facing renovictions, and ensuring replacement units for demolished affordable housing. It also suggests forming a Rental Task Force which would investigate issues related to above guideline rent increases, which have been on the rise in Ontario, as well as the creation of a rent registry. The Green Party criticized Ontario’s current rental system, noting minimal fines for landlords who violate regulations. CCHR sent a letter of support for the bill, noting that it would significantly expand protections for and uphold the rights of Ontario renters, while helping to preserve housing affordability. 

  • Ontario risks losing federal funding for failure to meet affordable housing targets 

    Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has warned Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford that the province is at risk of losing $357 million in funding from the federal government, because it has failed to meet federal affordable housing targets, under a bilateral funding agreement. Minister Fraser has given the province until the end of the month to revise its proposed Action Plan in order to receive the funding, without the possibility of an extension. The current Action Plan proposes to only achieve 1,184 units out of the 19,660 affordable units required in the agreement by 2024-2025. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Paul Calandra, has described the possible withholding of funds as unfair and punitive. He pointed to current challenges in the economic landscape and Ontario’s focus on repairing its aging housing stock instead of focusing on building new supply to explain why current affordable housing targets are not being met.  

QUEBEC

  • Montreal relaxes construction regulations for social housing  

    Three years ago, Montreal introduced a new bylaw requiring developers to include social, affordable, and family housing in new construction. Although the bylaw was intended to stimulate the development of affordable housing, its impact has been limited due to several factors. Namely, many developers opted to pay a penalty under the bylaw, which would go into an affordable housing fund, rather than include affordable units in their projects. Inflation and labour shortages have also had a negative impact, all of which have delayed the development of 600 social units. The city recently loosened the rules under the bylaw by removing the obligation for developers to contribute to the affordable housing fund for projects with between 20 and 150 units. The government said that this is a temporary measure put in place to address rising inflation and labour shortage challenges faced by developers. The hope is that it will incentivize developers to build more affordable, social and family housing under the by-law. Other city council members believe that easing red tape around construction is the most effective way to incentivize developers to build more affordable housing.  

WESTERN CANADA

MANITOBA

  • Canada and Manitoba announce rent supports for survivors of gender-based violence  

    On March 26, the federal and Manitoba governments announced an enhancement to the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) to provide housing supports for survivors of gender-based violence, including women, children, and 2SLGBTQI+ people. The federal government is investing $13.7 million, which will be cost-matched by Manitoba over five years. Manitoba is the first province to co-design a CHB program for survivors of gender-based violence, which does not require income testing in the first year of receiving the benefit. This is crucial because it acknowledges that individuals fleeing violence may be experiencing financial abuse or face barriers to accessing other types of benefits due to complex family situations. In the absence of sufficient affordable housing options, this can lead to homelessness or hidden homelessness.  

  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls for 10,000 social housing units in Manitoba 

    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a report urging the Manitoba government to construct 10,000 social housing units within the next decade to meet the needs of low-income renters. Highlighting the inadequacy of relying solely on the private sector for affordable housing, the report suggests several strategies, including utilizing provincial downtown parking lots, converting vacant buildings into apartments, and introducing a tax credit for sales of rental properties to non-profits. The upcoming provincial budget is expected to address these recommendations, acknowledging the broader social benefits of reducing costs associated with policing and healthcare. 

  • Winnipeg experiencing a spike in rental costs 

    A new report on the rental market in Canada shows Winnipeg experienced an alarming 26 per cent jump in one-bedroom rental costs over the past year. Despite rents in Winnipeg remaining at the lower end of Canada’s rental market, this significant rent increase strains affordability, with many households spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing and forced to make difficult spending decisions. Advocates call for creating more non-profit, cooperative, and non-market housing and implementing rent control measures to address the crisis of rising rents.  

saskatchewan

  • Saskatoon’s housing crisis highlights need for more shelters and adequate housing  

    In Saskatoon, community groups and a city councilor are calling for more shelters and adequate housing in the city, as current shelters continue to be at capacity every night. This comes amid the cancellation of plans for a temporary shelter and push back against an existing emergency wellness center. Community concerns about safety and crime have intensified the debate. Advocates are calling for a balanced approach, emphasizing that while shelters are crucial, sustainable, affordable housing is the ultimate long-term solution to homelessness.  

British Columbia

  • B.C. Green Party introduce new bill to protect renters 

    On February 29, the B.C. Green Party introduced the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act to make housing more affordable and protect renters by preventing landlords from unreasonably increasing rents when a unit becomes vacant. This measure aims to end profit-driven evictions and increase housing stability. It draws inspiration from successful vacancy control measures in places like Manitoba and Germany, which would be a significant step towards addressing the housing affordability crisis in B.C. 

  • Vancouver city council takes steps towards preserving and expanding co-op housing 

    Vancouver city council is working to address the shortage of co-op housing by exploring options to preserve and expand the city’s co-op stock. Recognizing the importance of co-ops in providing affordable, family-sized units and fostering community, council directed staff to explore opportunities to build more co-op units on city-owned land and pilot new co-op models. This initiative aligns with ABC Vancouver’s election pledge to double the co-op housing stock, aiming to ensure long-term affordability and security for residents.

  • Inclusive housing needed for Indigenous Peoples with diverse abilities in B.C. 

    The Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) recently published a report examining the barriers to housing access for Indigenous peoples with diverse abilities, including the lack of housing supports and a complex housing system that is difficult to navigate, which increases the risk of homelessness. Individuals with complex and concurrent mental health and substance use care needs face additional barriers and a higher risk of experiencing homelessness. The report provides 26 recommendations that emphasize the need for Indigenous-led housing solutions, collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous housing providers, enhanced support services, and the importance of culturally safe and inclusive care. 

Yesterday, the federal government announced measures from its upcoming 2024 budget which it says will “make the playing field fairer for renters.”

Creating a new Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights 

Renters’ rights are a patchwork across Canada. Each province and territory has its own laws, and they vary dramatically from place to place. To take just two examples, different provincial laws provide vastly different protections – or more often, lack of protections – against evictions and excessive rent increases

It is high time that the federal government take a leadership role in establishing standards for fair, robust legal protections for renters everywhere in Canada. Today’s announcement is welcome, but the proof will be in the pudding. The government says that it will develop its bill of rights in partnership with provinces and territories. We hope that it will also work closely with renters and renter organizations to understand the real issues they face in the housing crisis. 

It is clear that the government needs the help. For example, it says that its bill of rights will “require landlords to disclose a clear history of apartment pricing so renters can bargain fairly.” That would be hugely beneficial in Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, where current laws provide some protection against rent increases between tenancies. But in other provinces, deeply harmful “vacancy decontrol” policies allow landlords to raise rents between renters by any amount, regardless of what they previously charged. The government needs to consult with renters to ensure that the bill of rights includes effective protections such as ending vacancy decontrol. 

Only the provinces have the legal authority to amend residential tenancies laws, but a bill of rights would establish national standards for the provinces to meet. Done properly, a renters’ bill of rights has the potential to bring fair, robust protections to renters across Canada. 

Launching a new $15 million Tenant Protection Fund

Renters need legal support. As rents across the country climb out of control, more and more renters are struggling to pay the rent each month – and facing the threat of eviction when they fall short. Eviction cases are decided by tribunals whose proceedings can be hard for renters to understand and navigate – and which are not always set up to be fair. Legal representation can help level the playing field.  

Seven provinces and territories provide little or no legal aid for renters facing eviction. The other provinces provide some legal aid, but it’s often plagued by funding shortfalls and cuts. In every province and territory, most renters have to represent themselves in eviction proceedings. 

We are glad to see the federal government recognizing that legal aid for renters is important, but $15 million is a drop in the bucket that does not respond to the depth of need and the enormous number of evictions taking place across Canada.

Making sure renters get credit for on-time rent payments 

Finally, the federal government says that it will make sure that rental payment history is taken into account in renters’ credit scores. This is a problematic proposal. Although the government says that renters’ credit scores will improve when they pay their rent on time, we are in a housing and affordability crisis. More and more renters, through no fault of their own, are struggling to pay their rent on time. We urge the government to ensure that late or missed rent payments do not negatively impact renters’ credit scores. 

What’s missing

While it is encouraging to see greater federal leadership on renters’ rights and protections, these measures alone will not be enough to tackle the housing affordability crisis. As outlined in our federal pre-budget submission, significant investments are needed to build and preserve affordable housing across the country, prioritizing the public, non-profit, and cooperative housing sectors that provide deep affordability over the long term. Moreover, low-income and other marginalized renters need direct short-term support to maintain their housing in the midst of rapidly escalating costs. We also call on the government to adequately fund an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, take concrete action to curb the growing financialization of housing, and support the implementation of the right to housing in Canada. 

We hope these initial measures announced for renters are the first among many new initiatives in the 2024 budget to ensure all people in Canada can live in secure and affordable homes.

In November 2023, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) assessed Canada’s human rights record through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, and delivered significant – and warranted – criticism on Canada’s nominal progress in tackling a range of critical human rights issues, including its housing and homelessness crisis. On March 18, the Government of Canada responded to these critiques by simply repeating existing promises.   

Meanwhile, advocates across the country have been raising the alarm for decades. The housing and homelessness crisis has reached the point where now a third of renters in Canada cannot afford their rent, many live in overcrowded and poorly maintained homes, and homelessness and encampments are on the rise. In the midst of this escalating crisis, the Canadian government has repeatedly failed to take meaningful action.  

This is not the first time the government has faced difficult questions over its human rights record. Every five years, the HRC reviews Canada’s human rights record, and has consistently called out Canada’s inaction on the human right to housing. For years, the HRC called on the federal government to establish a national housing strategy with tangible targets, significant investments, and commitments to take real action. 

Finally in 2017, following prolonged national advocacy supported by international pressure through the UPR process, Canada introduced a 10-year National Housing Strategy (NHS), and later passed the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) in 2019. At the time, advocates celebrated the NHSA’s recognition of housing as a fundamental human right. However, the NHS committed to ensuring that only 540,000 households in need have affordable, adequate housing.  

This target pales in comparison to the depth of need across the country: 1.5 million households are currently living in unaffordable, overcrowded, and/or dilapidated housing, and 235,000 people experience homelessness each year. The government has failed to meet even its own strategy’s insufficient goals.  

In the absence of meaningful action, Canada’s housing and homelessness crisis has only gotten worse, and those in greatest need – women, Indigenous Peoples, newcomers, racialized communities, people with disabilities, seniors, 2SLGBTQI+ people, and people experiencing homelessness – continue to face the worst outcomes.  

Alongside the UPR’s ongoing critiques of Canada’s inaction, the National Housing Council – a government body tasked to assess the NHS’s effectiveness – released a scathing report last year, calling for the strategy’s complete overhaul. The report noted that despite committing over $70 billion through the NHS, Canada is losing affordable housing faster than it is creating it: for every affordable home built under the NHS, two are lost. Moreover, most housing being built under the NHS is not affordable to those in greatest need, due in part to significant financing going to the private sector – which has consistently failed to produce deeply affordable homes – in addition to flawed affordability requirements that ultimately produce unaffordable homes.  

Meanwhile, in its most recent Fall Economic Statement, Canada announced an additional $15 billion for private sector rental construction, alongside funding for only 7,000 new non-market – public, non-profit, and co-operative – homes. Experts estimate that Canada requires one million such homes in the next decade to meet the current depth of housing need and address homelessness.  

The federal government – alongside the provinces, territories, and municipalities – continues to prioritize building new housing supply with inadequate or outright absent affordability requirements. This approach relies on the theory that building new unaffordable housing frees up affordable housing for those in need. Studies have shown that this approach does not improve housing affordability (especially in the short-term) and may actually raise the cost of existing homes.  

Yesterday, Canada responded to the HRC by only adopting the most vague of its recommendations to address housing and homelessness. What’s more, Canada refused to adopt any of the HRC’s specific recommendations to fully implement and strengthen the NHSA. Instead, it simply repeated its existing, inadequate targets, without acknowledging that it is failing to achieve even those targets. 

Following years of inaction and an escalating crisis, Canada had the chance to finally prove itself as a housing leader on the international stage – especially as it bids for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council – and begin to take its commitment to realize the right to housing seriously. Instead, it has once again chosen to ignore its responsibilities to realize the rights of Canadians and continues to fan the flames of a devastating crisis.

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:

NATIONAL

  • Federal housing advocate calls for human rights-based approach to encampments 

    As more and more cities across Canada are proceeding with encampment clearings, the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate released a report with a formal review of encampments conducted last year. Close to 25 per cent of people experiencing homelessness live in encampments, in precarious, life-threatening situations. The report states that evictions in encampments constitute a violation of human rights. It also recognizes that encampments result from a failure of Canadian governments to uphold the right to adequate housing, and calls on the federal government to establish a National Encampment Response Plan by the end of August 2024. The plan should build on the recommendations from the report, including increasing engagement with encampment residents, strengthening renter protections, and investing in non-market housing. Most importantly, the report calls for a coordinated response to homelessness and to enact legislation that recognizes housing as a human right. 

  • Federal government announces new affordability measures for rent and groceries

    On February 6, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced new government funding of $199 million to support renters facing excessive rent increases and those at risk of homelessness. Half of this funding is a top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and the other half is dedicated to increasing shelter spaces and services through the Reaching Home program. Recognizing the severity of the housing crisis and the urgent need for financial supports for low-income renters, other ministries have promised additional funding to address the immediate needs of low-income renters. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, committed an additional $362 million to the Interim Housing Assistance Program for temporary accommodation for refugees and asylum claimants.  

ATLANTIC CANADA

NEW BRUNSWICK  

  • Fredericton city council permits housing in some commercial zones

    On February 12, Councillors in Fredericton unanimously voted to amend the city’s zoning bylaw to create “workforce housing” on commercial properties in two areas of the city. The new bylaw is part of the City’s affordable housing strategy and aims to create more walkable neighborhoods where residents can live closer to their workplace. The bylaw requires bike parking and a minimum of 20 per cent of bachelor and one-bedroom apartments in workforce housing developments. While no affordability requirements are stipulated, the city hopes to achieve affordability in these developments by promoting smaller housing units, as the new bylaw sets out maximum instead of minimum floor areas for workforce housing.

CENTRAL CANADA

ONTARIO

  • Olivia Chow is spending millions on Toronto renters in her budget 

    On February 14, the City of Toronto unveiled its 2024 budget. The budget includes several important investments in affordable housing, with $126 million in funding distributed across several of the City’s affordable housing and shelter programs. The Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program (MURA) will receive $100 million over the next three years, alongside increased investments in the Eviction Prevention in the Community Program (EPIC), Toronto Tenant Support Program (TTSP), Toronto Rent Bank, and RentSafeTO. Emergency shelter responses will also benefit from additional funding, while the multi-residential property tax rate has been adjusted downwards to prevent landlords from applying for above-guideline rent increases. Right to Housing Toronto (R2HTO) commended the new budget, while proposing measures to further explore protections against renovictions, notably those contained in the new Multi-Tenant Housing (MTH) framework.   

  • Housing advocates rally at MPPs offices to demand rent reform

    Advocates from Ontario ACORN wrote letters to nine MPPs and held protests in front of their offices to demand provincial rent regulation reform. Currently, the province places a limit on yearly rent increases for sitting renters in Ontario, but vacated units and those first occupied as a rental unit after November 15, 2018 are exempt from rent increase limits. Landlords can also raise rent prices beyond the limit by applying for above-guideline increases (AGIs) to offset major repair costs. ACORN says it wants to see these loopholes closed by requiring all housing units, newly built or vacant, to be subject to rent increase limits and advocates are calling for a freeze on AGIs. 

QUEBEC

  • Quebec adopts controversial housing bill restricting lease transfers 

    After several months of public consultations and deliberations, Quebec’s controversial Bill 31 was finally passed into law on February 21. Since it was tabled in June 2023, the bill has been the subject of several protests calling for its withdrawal and the resignation of the Housing Minister, France-Elaine Duranceau. While the new law provides some additional protections for renters, such as increasing the level of compensation they receive after an eviction, it also removes important measures that have historically allowed rents to remain affordable. One such measure is the ability of renters to transfer their lease, which has been found to prevent landlords from evading rent regulations and reduce discrimination in housing.

WESTERN CANADA

ALBERTA

British Columbia

  • B.C. launches new agency to build middle-income rental housing more quickly 

    Under the stewardship of BC Housing, the provincial government launched a new housing program, BC Builds, to create more rental housing for middle-income households earning between $84,000 and $190,000 annually. The program will use underutilized land and properties from the public and non-profit sectors to provide at least 20 per cent of units at 20 per cent below market rents. The federal government committed $2 billion for this program, on top of the $950 million earmarked by the province.  

NORTHERN CANADA

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

  • Housing should be a fundamental right in N.W.T., MLAs say 

    On February 26, the MLA for Dehcho brought forward a motion to affirm housing as a human right, in line with Canada’s human rights obligations. The motion proposes to enshrine housing as a human right in the Housing Northwest Territories Act, which would include creating a Housing Forum to advise the Minister, establishing a Territorial Housing Advocate to review and evaluate outcomes of territorial legislation and programs, and working with Indigenous governments to implement culturally appropriate housing solutions. While the Cabinet abstained from the vote, all regular MLAs voted in favour of the motion, which should be further studied by the Standing Committee on Social Development in the coming months.  
The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:

NATIONAL

  • CMHC seeks proposals to establish an Indigenous-led National Indigenous Housing Centre 

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recently launched a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to establish an Indigenous-led National Indigenous Housing Centre, which would deliver funding to address core housing need among Indigenous Peoples living in urban, rural and northern (URN) areas. This is a critical step toward the implementation of an URN Indigenous Housing Strategy, which was a key commitment in the 2023 federal budget following prolonged advocacy from Indigenous and other housing advocates, including the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR). Advocates have noted the importance of Indigenous leadership and governance over URN Indigenous housing to uphold Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty. Currently, the federal government has committed to invest $4 billion over seven years to implement the strategy, and an additional $300 million to launch it. While the creation of a National Indigenous Housing Centre is an important step forward, the government’s funding commitments are significantly lower than estimates from the National Housing Council to meet the depth of URN Indigenous housing needs, which is estimated at $56 billion over 10 years. 

  • CMHC data shows record low vacancy rates and unprecedented rent increases across the country in 2023 

    Vacancy and rental rates set new records in 2023, according to new data from the CMHC Rental Market Report. Rental vacancy rates declined to a historic low of 1.5 per cent, well below the three per cent rate considered “healthy,” with the lowest vacancy rates in Vancouver (0.9 per cent), Calgary (1.4 per cent), and Toronto (1.4 per cent). Notably, this decline occurred while purpose-built rental supply grew in most areas. At the same time, rents have increased at record high rates, increasing by eight per cent annually across the country. In line with the low vacancy rates, the greatest rent increases were seen in Calgary (14.3 per cent), Toronto (8.8 per cent), and Vancouver (8.6 per cent). The data also demonstrates the loss of affordability between tenancies, noting rent increased by 24.1 per cent for two-bedroom apartments that experienced turnover, compared to a 5.1 per cent increase for units without turnover. Rent growth also far exceeded wage growth across the country, with few affordable options available for low-income renters. In Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto, there were functionally no available units affordable to the lowest income households. While the report focuses on the need for more housing supply alongside affordability measures, CCHR continues to advocate for comprehensive rent regulations across the country to combat these troubling trends and to better protect renters and preserve existing affordable housing stock. 

ATLANTIC CANADA

NEW BRUNSWICK  

  • Cancellation of New Brunswick rent caps failed to spur new housing development 

    Data from CMHC shows New Brunswick had the fewest new housing starts among the Maritime provinces in 2023, with 2.8 per cent fewer starts than the previous year, despite cancelling its rent cap policy at the end of 2022. In removing the rent cap, the New Brunswick government specifically cited feedback from private developers who argued that limits on rent increases stifle new housing development, in contrast to the recent provincial data. With many provincial governments prioritizing new housing supply through incentives for the private sector, this new data aligns with existing evidence that rent regulations are not at odds with new development. 

Newfoundland and Labrador 

  • Federal Housing Advocate and Nunatsiavut Inuit call for improved housing conditions for Labrador Inuit 

    Following its November 2023 report on the “deplorable” housing conditions faced by Inuit communities in Labrador (Nunatsiavut) and Nunavut, the Federal Housing Advocate, alongside the leader of Nunatsiavut Inuit, met with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to discuss the report’s recommendations. This meeting came after prolonged advocacy from Labrador Inuit communities, with little to no action or response from the provincial government. The report includes several key recommendations, including transferring public housing to the Nunatsiavut government, developing a long-term plan to improve housing conditions for Labrador Inuit, and monitoring the plan’s implementation. They are also calling on the housing minister to visit the Nunatsiavut region to see the housing conditions currently facing Labrador Inuit. The housing minister has since committed to visiting the region “in the near future,” in addition to working with the Nunatsiavut government on a housing plan, which could include transferring control of public housing to Nunatsiavut. 

Nova Scotia 

  • United Way report shows Nova Scotia has the highest poverty rate in Canada, deeply connected to the housing and homelessness crisis 

    According to a recent United Way Halifax report, Nova Scotia has the highest provincial poverty rate in the country, with more than 10 per cent of Haligonians living below the poverty line. The report specifically calls out the limited availability and affordability of housing in the province as a key contributor to the high poverty rate, citing the public housing waitlist reaching over 6,500 households. CCHR recently made a submission to the 2024-25 Nova Scotia budget consultation, calling for increased investments in truly affordable housing, including social and non-profit housing, greater access to rent subsidies, and stabilization of existing rental housing through more comprehensive rent regulation and supports for renters.

CENTRAL CANADA

ONTARIO

  • Hamilton passes first anti-renoviction bylaw in Ontario, as other municipalities consider similar approaches 

    Following years of advocacy, Hamilton recently became the first city in Ontario to adopt a bylaw to prevent “bad faith” renovictions and enhance renter protections, with enforcement set to begin in January 2025. Under the bylaw, eviction and renovations can only proceed once a landlord applies for a $715 renovation licence (within seven days of issuing an eviction notice) and secures all necessary building permits, including an engineer’s report confirming the unit must be vacant to conduct the renovations. The landlord is also responsible for making arrangements (e.g., providing temporary accommodations or compensation) with renters who wish to return to their unit and must offer the same rental rate paid prior to the renovation. Failure to comply with the bylaw could result in up to $500 in fines per unit per day. Advocates across the province celebrated the new bylaw and CCHR’s Director of Policy and Law Reform, Dale Whitmore, emphasized its importance in protecting renters and preserving affordable housing. This new bylaw sets an important precedent for other municipalities across Ontario, as London and Toronto consider similar approaches. 

  • Brampton landlord licensing program temporarily paused following landlord protest 

    Less than one month after its launch, Brampton’s two-year Residential Rental Licensing pilot program has been temporarily paused following petitions and protests from landlords across the city. The program would have required landlords in five wards to register rental properties with four units or less and be subject to random inspections, with the goal of preventing overcrowding and conducting needed maintenance and repairs. Landlords cited burdensome administrative requirements through the program, alongside claims that overcrowding was due to renters subletting their units. Meanwhile, renters and advocates had previously expressed concerns that corporate property owners had been exempt from the program, despite housing thousands of renters in Brampton. 

QUEBEC

  •  Seniors in Quebec fight evictions from private residences 

    The Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP) released a report revealing that 88 private seniors’ residences (RPAs) in Quebec closed between October 2022 and September 2023, displacing more than 2,500 seniors. These closures have prompted concerns about the impact on seniors’ physical and mental health. The AQRP is calling on the Quebec government to include a clause in Bill 31 to ban evictions from RPAs and require RPA owners to provide affordable housing units when converting residences. RPA owners cite struggles with staffing and costs as reasons for closures, urging government intervention. The government has allocated $200 million over five years to support RPAs, but critics argue that more assistance is needed to address the challenges faced by RPA owners.  

WESTERN CANADA

MANITOBA

ALBERTA

  • NDP rent cap proposal rejected by Alberta government as rents rise fastest in the country 

    Despite staggering rent increases across the province (the highest in the country), the Alberta government recently rejected the opposition NDP’s proposal for a temporary rent cap of two per cent for two years, after which the rate would be tied to inflation for another two years. The Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services stated “rent control does not work,” focusing on supply-side solutions to the housing crisis. CCHR continues to emphasize the importance of rent regulation in protecting tenants and affordable housing, and recently released an advocacy toolkit in support of the NDP’s proposal, identifying it as a vital first step toward rent regulation, and ultimately renter protections, in Alberta.  

  • Edmonton declares housing and homelessness emergency 

    Edmonton city council passed a motion declaring a housing and homelessness emergency in the midst of ongoing housing and affordability concerns across the city. The motion calls for an emergency meeting with provincial, federal and Indigenous governments and $3.5 million to set up a housing task force focused on long-term solutions, which could include rent control, transitional housing and use of city land for supportive and other non-market affordable housing. Over 46,000 households in Edmonton are in core housing need, with renters four times more likely than homeowners to be in this category. 

British Columbia

  • First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society releases report on housing discrimination in B.C. for families with children  

    First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society released a new report on children’s right to housing in British Columbia, noting that 37 per cent of parents reported being denied housing because they had children. Other key themes undermining children’s right to housing included unaffordability, overcrowding, waiting lists, and other intersecting forms of discrimination (e.g., disability, race, immigration status, source of income). The report includes recommendations to uphold the right to housing for children, including building and protecting more affordable rentals, increasing financial support for families, improving housing services, improving regulation of private landlords and strengthening protections under the Human Rights Code. 

  • Rental protections unclear for transitional housing residents in B.C. 

    The B.C. Court of Appeal is seeking clarity from the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch on the rights of residents in transitional housing, citing “inconsistencies” in decisions, in particular those concerning evictions and guest policies. Currently, renters living in transitional housing are not covered by B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act, leaving them with few protections and options to uphold their rights. The key inconsistencies in arbitrator decisions revolve around occupancy lengths, as transitional housing is meant to be temporary, though residents may end up staying for several years. Advocates hope the Residential Tenancy Branch will provide clear guidance and definitions on transitional housing so residents can be better protected and have greater access to justice. 

NORTHERN CANADA

NUNAVUT

  • Iqaluit signs Housing Accelerator Fund agreement with federal government 

    The federal government committed close to $9 million to the City of Iqaluit through its Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), which aims to expedite the construction of 160 housing units over three years by increasing density, streamlining development application processes, creating a private land development framework, and working with non-profit housing providers to expand affordable housing. Building on the initial agreement with Iqaluit, the federal government also announced plans to invest over $27 million across Nunavut through the HAF over the next three years.  

YUKON

  • Yukon consulting on Residential Landlord and Tenant Act review 

    Following an initial review of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act with community members last summer, the Government of Yukon is seeking public input on the Act, focusing on impacts for landlords, tenants and businesses. Interested participants can share feedback via an online survey (which will be open from February 1 – 29) and through in-person sessions in Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Dawson City and Watson Lake. Survey results will be shared later this year, with the Act scheduled to be introduced in 2025. The review of the Act is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Yukon Government and NDP.

  • Clashes between Yukon Premier and staff on landlord subsidy program  

    New information gathered through an access to information request shows that Yukon civil servants had raised concerns about a program that provided one-time subsidies to landlords. According to the Premier, the program was meant to encourage landlords to keep their rental units on the market amidst high inflation and the new territorial rent cap. However, staff from the Executive Council office had raised concerns about whether the subsidies would have the desired effect, while also noting that the rent cap did not have any concrete connection to the low territorial vacancy rate. Moreover, staff from the Community Services department had flagged that the subsidy could undermine trust with renters. Since launching in October, the program has provided $630,000 in subsidies to landlords. 

Across Canada, years of drastic increases to rental housing costs have put renters at the centre of a housing affordability crisis. Recent data show that this is a serious concern for 95 per cent of people in Canada, and two-thirds are in favour of strengthening rent regulation measures to help tackle this issue. Yet today, only six provinces have rent regulation policies in place, and the regulations that do exist vary widely across the country. The need to implement strong rent regulations that prevent practices such as rent gouging has never been greater. Here we bring you a snapshot of some of the challenging realities faced by Canada’s renters. All of these stories were originally reported by the media from across Canada.

In provinces where no rent regulations exist, renters can be subject to exorbitant increases.

In Calgary, 68-year-old Mary Clark told CTV News that she received a $400 per month increase. She told reporter Timm Bruch that her and her husband live on a fixed income and are skipping meals to save money. “We end up with about $35 each. What do you get for $10 in the grocery store?” Another Calgary resident, Courtney Townsend, told CBC News that she finally secured a provincial rental subsidy to help keep her and her kids in their home, but then she received a rent increase of $800. “I don’t understand why there’s no rent control…$800 all in one shot is just outrageous,” she told reporter Karina Zapata.  

In Saskatoon, Peter Davey told Global News that he received a $350 rent increase. He shared with reporter Brody Langager that another tenant in the building received a 50 per cent increase, adding “a lot of people are frightened to talk because they think they might be evicted right away, it’s sad.”  

Similar increases are seen in New Brunswick, where more than 40 per cent of people are spending a third of their income on housing. Greg Pringle told CBC News that without tribunal intervention, he’s facing a 34 per cent rent hike. He told reporter Robert Jones “That’s going to be extreme hardship.”

In provinces and territories where rent is regulated, weaknesses and loopholes in the rules often incentivize landlords to evict tenants so that they can raise rents. 

One Toronto renter told the West End Phoenix that she received a rent increase from her landlord that was well above the legal limit. When she pushed back, she was told by her landlord’s real estate agent that her landlord could serve her an “own-use” eviction notice as a way to force her to move out. “He explicitly told me that my landlord could say he wanted to move in, and I’d have to move out,” she told reporter Sakeina Syed. Toronto sisters Yumna and Khadeja Farooq told the Toronto Star that they received a $7,000 rent increase notice because of a loophole in Ontario’s rent regulation policy that exempts units first rented after November 15, 2018 from the province’s rent increase guideline.  

Renters in British Columbia face similar challenges. CBC News reported that 16 per cent of renters were paying more than 50 per cent of their income on shelter. Because rents are not regulated between tenancies, the Daily Hive reported that newly moved-in renters are paying over 30 per cent more than renters who have been in their unit for one year or longer. Vancouver renter Reina Goto moved out of her unit under B.C.’s caretaker provision, but no caretaker moved in and her unit was instead relisted at a 50 per cent increase.

Despite a temporary rent cap in Nova Scotia, Global News reported that renovictions and fixed-term leases are pushing renters out of their homes and contributing to the rising number of unhoused people. Dartmouth renter Sarah Whynot told reporter Megan King that her fixed-term lease was not renewed when she questioned a hefty $400-600 price increase for her unit. “I questioned it because of the rent cap, and then a week later — not even — a notice on my door saying, ‘We’re not having you. You need to leave by June 30th.’” 

Yukon also allows landlords to impose fixed-term leases with expiry dates. Despite a temporary rent cap being imposed, Yukon News reported that rents still rose by 15.4 per cent in Whitehorse and 14.4 per cent across Yukon over the two-year period since the cap was implemented. Like in other provinces where rents are not regulated between tenancies, both rent caps only apply to new renters.

Provinces that do regulate rents between tenancies have their own challenges. 

In Manitoba, the rent increase guideline does not apply to a range of unit types and can be circumvented through an above-guideline rent increase (AGI) application to the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB), which according to recent data in a Freedom of Information request, they are overwhelmingly likely to get. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that in the first half of 2022, the RTB permitted landlords to raise rents by an average of nine per cent, with increases ranging between five and 126 per cent. Winnipeg resident Al Wiebe told reporter Danielle Da Silva that despite a zero per cent rent increase guideline for 2023, the RTB approved a 15 per cent increase for his building.  

In Prince Edward Island, landlords can apply for AGIs at the discretion of a tribunal. CBC reported that landlords hurried to apply for steep increases before the province’s Residential Tenancy Act came into place in 2023, which would cap the allowable AGI at an additional 3 per cent per year. Cory Pater, of the tenants’ rights group P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing, told reporter Shane Ross “It’s been an almost astronomical increase for some people. We’ve had folks who have had to move because they’re on [a] fixed income, where they just can’t afford it.”

When affordable housing options are not available, renters may be forced to live in precarious, inadequate and sometimes unsafe housing.

CBC News reported that seven per cent of B.C. renters live in units in need of major repairs and eleven percent live in overcrowded conditions.  

Nunatsiaq News reported that in Nunavut, 37 per cent of the population live in homes needing major repairs, are not the right size, or are not affordable. In 2021, Nunavut’s MP heard first-hand about the dire conditions many people were living in, including overcrowded homes, crumbling walls, broken windows and doors, and black mould.  

In Toronto, an international student spoke out about the deplorable conditions his rental unit. He sleeps on a mattress on the floor next to another renter. “First few months I shared a mattress with somebody because there was no mattress available at that time,” he told CTV News reporter Beth Macdonell.

Evictions and excessive rent increases disproportionately impact vulnerable community members in Canada. 

Norris Turner, a blind 74-year-old man from Edmonton, was forced out of his home after receiving a $630 increase that would have forced him to spend his savings on rent. “I was amazed and in awe that they would do something like that,” he told CBC News reporter Julia Wong. Calgary renter Astrid Nickerson told CTV News reporter Timm Bruch that she received a $300 increase. “It’s extremely difficult. I’m a disabled, single mom so I live off of different social supports and this is my first year after leaving a shelter and abusive relationship…I’ve just kind of been going to the food bank more and cutting back on different things.”  

Paula Hudson-Lunn, who lives in Nelson, B.C., told CBC News that at 71 years old, she is having to look for new housing in a housing market with a 0.6 per cent vacancy rate. She says that even a smaller, less suitable place than her current home will cost her more than she can afford on her fixed income. “I may have to find full-time work in what should be my retirement years,” she shared.  

In Toronto, jes sachse told CBC News that they were served with an N12 eviction notice in 2022 and spent more than a year fighting the eviction through the Landlord and Tenant Board. As a disabled artist, sachse told reporters Lane Harrison and Olivia Bowden “I, ultimately, was nervous. Having accessibility concerns, like, how possible would it be for me to find housing right away?”

Strong rent regulations are needed to solve this crisis.

These stories clearly show how renters across Canada continue to face growing housing insecurity due to a lack of protection against excessive rents. As a result, countless lower income renters are forgoing basics such as food and medication, while others are forced to live in poorly maintained or overcrowded homes that put their health at risk. Renters across the country are living in fear of losing their homes. It’s time for our governments to implement strong rent regulations to help ensure that all renters in Canada have secure homes.

Join us in calling on all provincial and territorial governments to take action on affordability by implementing strong rent regulation. 

Send a letter to your government by January 22. 


Donate today to support the campaign.

Yearly round-up of developments in housing policy from across Canada:

NATIONAL

  • Scotiabank released a report which concluded that the affordability crisis could be fixed by addressing the social housing shortage 
     
    In January 2023, Scotiabank released a report calling on governments in Canada to double the country’s stock of social housing – deeply affordable housing where rent is set at 30 per cent of household income. Currently, Canada is an outlier amongst OECD countries: social housing makes up about 3.5 per cent of Canada’s housing stock, as compared to the OECD average of 7 per cent. At the same time, housing affordability continues to deteriorate across the country, with asking market rents rising between 12-25 per cent over 2021-2022. Households continue to struggle, as data released by Statistics Canada in February 2023 showed that one in four Canadians said that they were unable to cover an unexpected expense of $500. Data also showed that almost half of Canadians were very concerned with their ability to afford rent and had concerns about the rising costs of gasoline and food. In October 2023, housing advocates across the country joined a National Day of Action organized by Social Housing and Human Rights, a coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for more federal investment in social housing. The coalition called for 30,000 social housing units to be built across the country every year until 2034, with rent set at 30 per cent of household income in perpetuity.

  • Federal funding commitments continued to do little to address the housing crisis  
     
    In March 2023, the federal government released its 2023 budget. The budget included $4 billion over seven years, beginning in 2024-2025, to implement an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, co-developed with Indigenous partners. Although many welcomed this investment, it was deemed insufficient to effectively address the housing challenges faced by Indigenous households. In December 2023, the federal government announced the next steps for developing this strategy. The Federal Housing Advocate noted that the budget failed to address the major systemic issues that are preventing the realization of the human right to housing in Canada, including action on homelessness and the financialization of housing. In November 2023, the federal government released the Fall Economic Statement which also fell short on investments for affordable housing. While it was announced that $15 billion will be geared towards incentives for private developers, only $1 billion was allocated to the creation of social, non-profit, and co-operative housing. Other measures included removing income tax deductions on short-term rentals, better protections against foreclosures, and more flexible mortgage lending rules. CCHR’s Executive Director Annie Hodgins said that these measures are a step in the right direction, but that not enough was included for renters who need truly affordable housing. CCHR had submitted a series of recommendations to the federal government during its pre-budget consultation process in October 2022. 
      
  • The National Housing Council recommended strengthening the National Housing Strategy  
     
    In April 2023, the National Housing Council published a report on the progress of the National Housing Strategy. The report found that Canada is losing affordable housing faster and in greater quantities than they are being created under the strategy. The report concluded with several recommendations on how to revise the strategy to adequately address the housing crisis including: 1) aligning the strategy with rights-based goals articulated in the National Housing Strategy Act; 2) allocating more funding towards creating non-market housing; 3) enhancing the Canada Housing Benefit; 4) establishing a separate funding stream for Indigenous housing programs; and 5) strengthening accountability and coordination within the federal government and with other levels of government. These recommendations have not been implemented by the federal government.
       
  • Canada’s first Review Panel examined the impacts of the financialization of rental housing 
     
    In April 2023, Canada’s first Review Panel was launched to examine the impacts of the financialization of purpose-built rental housing. The goal of the Review Panel was to look at the impact of the financialization of purpose-built rental housing on the housing system and the right to adequate housing as well as the federal government’s role in addressing this growing issue. The Review Panel received 194 written submissions from people affected by the financialization of housing, civil society organizations, experts in housing and human rights, and representatives from the purpose-built rental housing sector in Canada. Oral hearings for the Review Panel took place between October and December 2023. CCHR joined fellow experts to elaborate on our submission, to answer questions, and to recommend solutions.  

  • The federal government introduced Bill C-56 to bolster rental housing construction   
     
    In December 2023, the federal government passed Bill C-56, an Act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act, in an effort to increase housing supply. A measure in the Act includes the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on new rental construction. The bill is set to increase the GST rental rebate from 36 per cent to 100 per cent to incentivize the construction of apartment buildings, student housing and senior residences. According to the Department of Finance Canada, this will provide homebuilders with $25,000 in tax relief on apartments valued at $500,000. The initiative is expected to cost $4.5 billion between now and 2029. The rebate will be available to buildings with at least 4 apartments or 10 private rooms, as long as at least 90 per cent of the units are used for long-term rentals. The federal government has called on all provincial governments to apply the exemption to the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), however some housing advocates pointed out that these types of incentives are more geared towards increasing the profit margins of developers rather than creating the types of affordable rental units that households truly need.

  • The federal government began to implement conditional allocation of the Housing Accelerator Fund  

    In the fall of 2023, the federal government began providing funding to municipalities and provinces under the Housing Accelerator fund. Housing Minister Sean Fraser asked various municipalities to implement transformational changes to increase housing supply and affordability, such as by ending exclusionary zoning, in exchange for funding under this program. Several municipalities secured funding under these types of agreements, including London, Calgary, Brampton, Halifax, and Toronto. In October 2023, the Government of Quebec and the federal government reached an agreement to receive $900 million under the fund. The Quebec government pledged to match the federal funding for a total of $1.8 billion and to spend all of it on non-market housing options over the next five years, including co-operative housing, low income housing, and subsidized housing. Although housing advocates in Quebec acknowledge the province’s pledge as a good sign, they said that they will only take it seriously once it lays out its spending priorities.

ATLANTIC CANADA

NEW BRUNSWICK  

  • The Government of New Brunswick released a new housing strategy     
     
    In June 2023, the province released a housing strategy called NB Housing: Housing for All. The strategy was based on input from over 160 housing stakeholders, ranging from community groups and non-profit organizations to builders, developers, homeowners, educators, and students. The strategy focused on preventing residents from becoming unhoused and identified $500 million of new and previously committed funding to put towards housing. New initiatives introduced under the strategy included funding for a new Rent Bank program for two years and a new tenant rental housing benefit to help protect tenants’ security of tenure. Despite these developments, tenants’ rights groups and opposition members of legislative assembly were disappointed that rent caps were not included in the strategy.  

Newfoundland and Labrador  

  • Homelessness rates in St. John’s were on the rise

    Homelessness and poverty became more visible problems in St. John’s as the cost of living continued to rise. End Homelessness St. John’s estimated that about 900 people experienced homelessness in the province in 2022 which represents a significant increase compared to the 165 people estimated to be experiencing homelessness in a 2018 point-in-time count. The method for measuring homelessness has changed and could partly account for the higher number. However, the rising rates of homelessness cannot be denied as evidenced by the rise of tent encampments. Advocates said that the government must address this issue with long-term policy solutions which also tackle the structural causes of homelessness.  

  • Federal Housing Advocate released a report on housing issues faced by Inuit communities in Labrador

    Newfoundland and Labrador’s housing minister has not yet responded to a report by the Federal Housing Advocate, released in November 2023, that details the housing crisis faced by Inuit communities in Newfoundland and Labrador (as well as Nunavut), with several recommendations to address the issue. Housing issues detailed in the report include the lack of secure housing which can be traced back to the provincial government’s decision to forcefully relocate the Labrador Inuit decades ago. This has resulted in households being forced into overcrowded living conditions. Inadequate upkeep of social housing units over the years has exacerbated housing problems. In the wake of the report’s release, the president of Nunatsiavut, in Northern Labrador, said that his government was ready to meet with its provincial counterparts to work toward solutions, but the provincial housing minister has not publicly responded to the report. Lack of public comment by the province on the report has reinforced the feelings of communities on the North Coast of Labrador of being forgotten.  

NOVA SCOTIA 

  • Halifax established a rental property registry

    In April 2023, Halifax Regional Council passed a bylaw to create a rental property registry. This marked a significant victory for renter advocates led by Halifax ACORN members, who advocated for the establishment of landlord licensing for several years. The registry will apply to all rental units within the municipality, which can lead to more data being collected on the available rental stock and stronger oversight of safety and maintenance for smaller rental buildings. Under the bylaw, property owners must register their rental properties by April 1, 2024. After that date, owners of rental properties that are unregistered may face fines of up to $10,000. 

  • The Government of Nova Scotia extended the interim rent cap to the end of 2025

    In April 2023, the Nova Scotia government passed legislation that extended the current interim rent cap to the end of 2025 and increased the rent cap from 2 per cent to 5 per cent annually, beginning in January 2024.The government stated that this amount was chosen to allow landlords to catch up to inflation, while avoiding any large rent increases for tenants. The interim rent cap was first introduced as a temporary measure in November 2020, in response to a housing affordability crisis that has escalated in recent years due to rising housing costs, the lack of affordable housing options for low income households, and the lack of construction of rental housing which has not kept up with population growth. The rent cap was extended in February 2022. While advocates were relieved to hear that the rent cap will be extended again, they were concerned that the cap was increased to 5 per cent, with some calling for a permanent rent cap of 2 per cent. Advocates were also concerned that the new legislation did not address a remaining loophole that allows landlords to misuse fixed term leases to get around the rent cap.  

Prince EDWARD ISLAND 

  • P.E.I. Greens asked for clear rules on additional rent increases 

    In April 2023, the provincial government adopted a new Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). Under the new RTA, the maximum rent increase for 2024 was set at 3 per cent. To increase rents beyond the rent cap, landlords must apply to the Residential Tenancy Office, and the director must consider various factors in deciding whether to approve the application, including the expectation of the landlord to have a reasonable return on investment (ROI). However, it remained unclear what “reasonable” means. Some landlords have been known to get a return of 15 per cent on their investment, and interim Green party leader, Karla Bernard, questioned whether such a high return was fair to tenants. In November 2023, the Green Caucus said that the new laws around rent increases require further clarification and asked for changes in the RTA to set fixed percentages for ROIs to help landlords estimate the potential ROI on a property before they purchase it, and to prevent unfair rent increases for tenants during their tenancies. 

CENTRAL CANADA

ONTARIO

  • Ontario court ruled that encampments can stay if there is a shortage of shelter beds

    In January 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice denied the Regional Municipality of Waterloo’s request to remove a homeless encampment, in what was seen as a precedent setting case. The ruling was in line with case law from British Columbia, which found that it is an infringement on Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms rights to deny someone the ability to find shelter outside when there is no adequate or accessible space for them within the shelter system. The Court found that, as the number of people experiencing homelessness exceeded the number of shelter beds in the City of Kitchener, the region could not use its bylaws to prevent people from setting up temporary shelters on municipal land. The decision further articulated how the court interprets ‘accessibility’ and ‘availability’ of beds within the shelter system. Supporters of the decision indicated that the precedent set by this case will be a powerful tool for those advocating on behalf of encampment residents in Ontario and across the country. In November 2023, the Court denied a similar application by the City of Kingston for an order to clear an encampment, for similar reasons. 

  • The City of Toronto hired its first Deputy Ombudsman responsible to investigate systemic housing issues

    In July 2023, Toronto’s first Deputy Ombudsman for Housing, Reema Patel, was appointed. This new role was established to investigate systemic housing issues and monitor the planning and delivery of Toronto’s housing services and programs. The Deputy Ombudsman will also engage with individuals and communities facing housing precarity and other adequacy challenges to advance fairness in housing access and program delivery. The Deputy Ombudsman started their first investigation into the city’s decision to deny shelter access to refugee claimants and asylum seekers in May 2023. They were told that shelters were at capacity, and that they should seek help from federal programs, resulting in dozens of refugee claimants and asylum seekers being forced to camp out on the sidewalk outside a shelter intake office for several weeks. Following community mobilization and public outcry, the federal government announced that it would provide an additional $210 million to fund interim housing for asylum seekers, with $97 million being allocated to the City of Toronto. 

QUEBEC

  • The Government of Quebec proposed new changes to landlord-tenant relations that have sparked protest

    In June 2023, the Quebec government tabled Bill 31, which was set to make it easier for landlords to refuse a tenant’s request to assign their lease, among many other proposed changes. In an environment where rents have been escalating, lease assignments were providing some tenants a way to limit rent increases. The change provoked protests among tenant advocates. Other changes in the bill included a new provision where landlords must indicate the maximum rent in a lease for the following five years and increasing compensation requirements for landlords who want to evict tenants. CCHR provided our input on the bill. The bill is currently under review and its adoption has been postponed to 2024. 

WESTERN CANADA

MANITOBA

  • The NDP won the Manitoba provincial election on a platform that included housing promises 
     
    In October 2023, the NDP party won the provincial election, and secured enough seats for a majority government. NDP leader Wab Kinew became the first First Nations provincial premier in Canada. The Manitoba NDP made several housing promises before the election. These included bringing the renters’ tax credit from $525 to $700, limiting landlords’ ability to apply for above-guideline rent increases, and developing a regulatory process to ensure affordability is maintained when a non-profit or co-operative housing provider tries to sell buildings that were designed to be affordable housing. 

SASKATCHEWAN

  • Saskatchewan’s income support programs remain insufficient to meet the needs of tenant recipients  
     
    In March 2023, Saskatchewan introduced increases to provincial assistance programs in its budget, including $14.3 million for the Saskatchewan Income Support program which includes a shelter benefit. The increases amount to only $30 more for most recipients. Advocates said that the increases are not enough, pointing out that many households who receive the shelter benefit under the income support program cannot afford to pay their rent. This issue will worsen as rents continue to rise.  

ALBERTA

  • The UCP won the Alberta provincial election, but did not update the provincial housing plan
     
    In May 2023, The United Conservative Party (UCP) won the Alberta general election on taking 49 seats at the legislature, while the New Democratic Party (NDP) took 38 seats. The UCP remained confident in the 2021 provincial housing strategy “Stronger Foundations” and did not provide any new measures to address the issue of rent increases that has been felt across all urban centres in the province. 

  • Alberta’s official opposition proposed a rent cap bill  

    In December 2023, the Alberta official opposition introduced Bill 205, the Alberta Housing Protection Act, into the provincial legislature. The purpose of the bill is to create a two-year temporary rental cap at 2 per cent, followed by a two-year rental cap tied to inflation. The bill would also increase reporting requirements to ensure that the government is meeting its intended housing targets. The bill was introduced as a response to rental increases in the province which have limited the affordable housing options of many people and left them struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. The provincial government continues to argue that rent regulation is not effective, and instead points to the rental supplement program it offers which supports low income Alberta households as a solution. Rent regulation is essential to keeping rents affordable in the long term and maintaining tenants’ security of tenure, and yet only six provinces in Canada currently have a rent regulation policy in place.  

  • Edmonton city council passed a new zoning bylaw

    In October 2023, Edmonton city council approved a new zoning bylaw that will introduce the first new significant changes in decades. The new changes will allow infill housing to be built in any residential lot in Edmonton, and allow for dense housing on any lot in the city, with some zones allowing infill and small apartments and others allowing high-rises. The hope is that the new bylaw will allow much needed housing of different types to be built in the fast-growing city. 

British Columbia

  • The Government of British Columbia introduced new measures to increase affordable housing and tackle speculation in the housing market

    On November 1, B.C.’s Minister of Housing tabled Bill 44 to help accelerate the construction of new housing. The Housing Statutes Amendment Act would require municipalities to plan their zoning process in advance to allow densification, by adapting their long-term urban development plans to housing needs forecasts and updating their zoning bylaws every 5 years. In addition, municipalities must designate Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas where upzoning would allow for buildings of up to 20 stories high near transit stations. Upzoning requirements are further supported by measures to fast-track development approvals and funding, by allowing municipalities to use development charges to fund part of the public infrastructure needed for housing development, for example. The province will be releasing a manual in December to support municipalities in the process, and has also announced that it will provide standardized home designs to guide developers in adapting new building forms to upzoning requirements.

NORTHERN CANADA

northwest territories

  • The Government of Northwest Territories and the federal government announced a new joint project for affordable homes

    In October 2023, Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane was joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Yellowknife to announce a jointly funded project between the federal government and the Territory. Under the project, the City of Yellowknife will provide the land while the federal government will provide the capital under the rapid housing initiative to build 50 new affordable homes. However, the Prime Minister did not make any commitments for federal support to improve the infrastructure in the territory, which Premier Cochrane was pushing for. The premier has been critical of the lack of support for infrastructure in the Northwest Territories and said that the gap between Northern and Southern Canada was highlighted during the record wildfire season experienced in the territory in 2023, during which many living outside of Yellowknife lost their homes, and 70 per cent of the territory’s population was displaced. The premier also emphasized that the territory needs support in building affordable housing supply, as well as support in upgrading necessary infrastructure to protect the territory and its residents from future climate disasters. 

NUNAVUT

  • The Federal Housing Advocate says poor Inuit housing conditions are a ‘direct result of colonialism’ 

    In November 2023, the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate released an observational report on Inuit housing, following their meetings with northern communities in 2022. The report stated that the housing conditions in which Inuit communities live are a direct violation of their right to housing. There is a serious shortage of housing in Nunavut and Nunatsiavut, and a high incidence of poverty and homelessness. In addition, access to basic services and proper heating and ventilation are crucially lacking, due to the prohibitive costs of construction and repairs in remote areas. Finally, overcrowding and the lack of accessible and culturally adequate housing were other prevalent issues the Advocate discussed with community members and leaders. The report recognized that these issues are rooted in the histories of colonial violence and forced displacements of Indigenous communities, coupled with chronic underfunding of northern communities. The report also provided recommendations developed jointly with Inuit leaders to ensure that the right to housing of Inuit communities is upheld. These recommendations aimed to empower Inuit governing entities, and included proposals such as transferring jurisdiction and funding of Inuit housing programs to Inuit governments, creating an independent Ombudsman for Inuit housing, and taking into consideration the climate realities of Arctic Canada, amongst other measures.

YUKON

  • The Yukon Liberals and NDP signed a confidence and supply agreement that introduced changes to rental regulations 
     
    In February 2023, Yukon’s Liberal and NDP parties signed a confidence and supply agreement that included significant changes to rental regulations including prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without providing a reason. Prior to this change, Yukon was one of the only jurisdictions in Canada where evicting a tenant without cause was permitted. Another change introduced was a minimum and maximum rate for rent increases, capping rent increases at 5 per cent annually regardless of the rate of inflation. The agreement also included a commitment to carry out a review of the Residential Tenancies Act, which is yet to take place.  

Renters across Canada are facing exorbitant rental housing costs, driven by excessive rent increases and the loss of affordable homes. Many renters are left with so few housing options that they can afford, leaving them vulnerable to “economic eviction,” or being forced to live in a home that is inaccessible or so poorly maintained that they present dangers to their health and safety. 

In the absence of strong laws that regulate rents, private landlords are free to charge rents far higher than what is necessary to cover their expenses and make a reasonable profit. This practice is known as rent gouging, and it’s causing rents to climb excessively across Canada to the point that half of renters are worried about being able to pay their rent. In many places, price gouging laws prohibit businesses from taking advantage of emergencies to overcharge for basic necessities. Yet, even though housing is a basic necessity and a human right, rent gouging is legal everywhere in Canada. Moreover, the regulations that do exist vary widely across the country.

Here we provide a breakdown of how each province and territory treats rent regulation, and their shortcomings in ensuring that renters have a secure place to call home. 

Where no regulations exist, renters’ homes are fundamentally insecure.  

In Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan, rents are not regulated at all. Once per year, landlords can raise the rent by any amount, even if their costs haven’t increased. There is no requirement that rents be stable, fair, or reasonable. 

In these provinces and territories, renters’ homes are fundamentally insecure. No renter can be confident that they will be able to afford their rent for longer than a year, and there is always the risk that they will face an excessive rent increase and be forced to leave their home because they simply can no longer afford to stay. 

In fact, in 2023 the New Brunswick government abolished a rent cap that was in place in 2022. The government enacted new rules which, in theory, require landlords to spread rent increases over multiple years. But the new rules do not limit the amounts of increases, and so they are not effective at ensuring that rents are affordable or reasonable. 

Nova Scotia and Yukon currently have temporary rent caps in place. These caps are important, but they only apply to existing renters, and not to new renters. When a renter moves out of their unit, landlords can charge the next renter of that unit any amount they wish. This is when rents can increase drastically, and landlords do not need to provide a reason to explain why they are changing a far higher amount to a new renter. 

Moreover, Nova Scotia and Yukon both allow landlords to impose fixed-term leases with expiry dates, usually after a year. Landlords can easily evade rent caps by forcing renters to move when their lease expires. 

Where rent regulations exist, only some renters are protected from excessive rents. 

Ontario and British Columbia have longstanding rent regulation systems. However, like in Nova Scotia and Yukon, the rules only apply to existing renters who do not move. Landlords are incentivized to evict renters from their homes so that they can raise rents. 

Renters in Ontario and British Columbia are not fully protected during their leases either. The rules allow landlords to apply for permission to raise rents well above the regular rent increase limits set each year by the provincial government. In theory, these increases are supposed to allow landlords to recoup increases to their operating expenses, such as maintenance costs. But the rules are broken, and in practice landlords are allowed to impose rent increases far higher than their cost increases – widening their profit margins at renters’ expense. 

Plus, in Ontario the rules do not apply at all for renters living in homes first occupied as a rental after November 15, 2018. Once per year, landlords can raise those renters’ rent by any amount they wish.

Only Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec regulate rents for units when renters move. This is called “vacancy control,” and it is essential to make rent regulation effective. But the rules in all three of these provinces are flawed in other ways. 

In Manitoba, the rules do not apply for 20 years after a building is built. For renters living in homes built less than 20 years ago, landlords can raise the rent by any amount once per year. The rules also do not apply to renters whose rents are higher than $1,615. Finally, landlords are allowed to apply for excessive rent increases, far higher than their costs have increased – and far higher than the increases allowed in Ontario and British Columbia. 

In Prince Edward Island, landlords can apply for unlimited rent increases at the discretion of a tribunal.  The tribunal has typically prioritized landlords’ profits, leading to some extremely high rent increases. The provincial government recently changed the rules, directing the tribunal to also consider renters’ interests. Time will tell whether the new system will effectively protect renters from excessive increases. 

Quebec is the only province that imposes somewhat reasonable limits on rent increases. However, Quebec places the onus on renters to enforce the regulations themselves, by doing their own calculations and refusing excessive increases. This is particularly difficult for new renters who often have no way of knowing whether the landlord is telling the truth about how much they charged the previous renter. Renters living in homes built less than five years ago are also not protected by any rent regulation.

It’s time for strong rent regulation. 

Protections against excessive rent increases vary widely in provincial and territorial laws, and renters are not adequately protected against rent gouging anywhere in Canada. 

Effective regulations are needed in every province and territory to ensure that rents are fair for all renters, no matter where they live. Whether they are staying in their current home or moving to a new home, whether they live in an old or a new building, whether or not their landlord’s costs have increased, and no matter which province or territory they live in, renters deserve to be protected against excessive rents and rent gouging. 

Join us in calling on all provincial and territorial governments to take action on affordability by implementing strong rent regulation. 

Send a letter to your government now


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