Housing policy news: April 2023

April 30, 2023

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • The National Housing Council recommends ways to strengthen the National Housing Strategy 

    The National Housing Council (NHC) published a report on the federal National Housing Strategy (NHS) where it found that Canada is losing affordable housing faster and in greater quantities than the amount that the NHS program is producing. To address the housing crisis, the NHC recommended that: 1) the NHS be better aligned with the rights-based goals articulated in the National Housing Strategy Act; 2) the Government of Canada focus more funding to increase the share of non-market housing; 3) the Canada Housing Benefit be enhanced; 4) a separate funding stream be established for Indigenous housing programs and; 5) the Government of Canada strengthen accountability and coordination within its government and with other levels of government to improve socio-economic, health and environmental outcomes for all. 

  • Canada’s first Review Panel is launched to examine the financialization of purpose-built rental housing

    Canada’s first Review Panel has been launched to examine the financialization of purpose-built rental housing. Through this process, the Review Panel will 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. Written submissions can be made to the Review Panel 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. 



  • Interim Agreement will help remedy systemic discrimination against persons with disabilities

    The Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and Disability Rights Coalition have reached an interim settlement “towards a systemic human rights remedy to end the discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities.” After a court ruling that found the province’s treatment of persons with disabilities in need of supports and services amounted to systemic discrimination, the subsequent deliberations have resulted in a legally binding and enforceable arrangement that will create a system of social assistance that fully recognizes and respects the different needs of persons with disabilities. The government must now implement a five-year plan that will close all institutional settings for persons with disabilities and eliminate the waitlist for social assistance in five years.



    • Court ruling provides temporary protections for encampment residents from evictions  

      A judge ruled that people living in encampments under the Ville-Marie Expressway can continue to do so until mid-June. This is the third ruling that protects the encampment residents from an eviction notice that Transports Québec first issued last November. However, Mobile Legal Clinic filed for injunctions with the hope that the government would come up with more sustainable and permanent housing options for the encampment residents to ensure that they are not left in a precarious housing situation. The case will return to court at the end of May when lawyers could request an extension if no alternative is found. 


    • Ontario introduces new legislation to increase housing supply and protect tenants 

      The Ontario government introduced Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, making this the fourth housing bill that the province is working to pass under the Housing Supply Action Plan since last year. If passed, some key planning amendments are intended to increase housing construction. For example, some more room is created to convert lands zoned for employment into residential uses by updating the definition of employment areas. Municipalities also stand to gain more flexibility in expanding their boundaries to accommodate future growth. Critics have noted the risk of this proposed change in perpetuating more sprawl. The province’s own Housing Affordability Taskforce earlier found that enough land was available to build more housing without having to increase municipal boundaries. The proposed legislation also includes more protections for renters from potential renovictions. Notably, landlords would now be required to provide tenants with a written notification about the status of renovations along with a report from a qualified person to verify whether the repair needs are so extensive that the unit has to be vacated. Tenants would also be given a 60 day grace period to move back in after a renovated rental unit is available. Bill 97 has been referred to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy. Public hearings will be held by the committee on May 10th and 11th, 2023. Specific comments related to proposed changes to help tenants from bad faith renovation evictions can be made here by May 21, 2023.

    • Ontario releases proposed rental replacement regulations for public feedback 

      The Ontario government also opened up regulations related to Rental Replacement by-laws for consultation. Earlier, Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, empowered the province to regulate and prohibit municipal requirements for developers to replace redeveloped buildings with the same number of rental units as the older buildings that it converted at similar rents for a period of time. The regulatory changes that have since been proposed consist of a set of minimum requirements, limits and common rules such as the type of compensation that ought to be provided to tenants whose units are being converted. Feedback can be provided on the proposed changes by May 21, 2023 here



      • Manitoba announces new funding to help strengthen provincial seniors’ housing programs  housing 

        The Manitoba government announced $3 million in new funding for seniors’ housing programs to help seniors safely age in place. From that amount, $1.5 million will be used to provide financial assistance to seniors over the age of 65 with household incomes of $60,000 with home modifications to enhance safety and accessibility and enable participation in daily activities. The remaining funds will be used to help strengthen and stabilize the province’s supportive housing programs by increasing the per diem rate to $50 per resident.

      • Housing advocates and experts gather at conference to advocate for more social housing 

        The Manitoba Government announced $3 million in new funding for seniors’ housing programs to help seniors safely age in place. $1.5 million will be used to provide financial assistance to seniors over the age of 65 with household incomes of $60,000 with home modifications to enhance safety and accessibility and enable participation in daily activities. The remaining funds will be used to help strengthen and stabilize the province’s supportive housing programs by increasing the per diem rate to $50 per resident. 


      • The Alberta government increases housing funding and the NDP release a housing plan as election season kicks off 

        As election season kicks off in Alberta, the NDP has released a housing plan that aspires to house 40,000 people over the next five years. The plan consists of several commitments including building 8,500 more social housing units with $1.5 billion in provincial investments, increased rental assistance for 20,000 Albertans from the 9,000 that currently receive it, and provision of predictable, consistent funding for shelter spaces. The United Conservative Party has not yet articulated its housing plans although it earlier increased its capital spending for affordable housing over the next three years by $200 million. At the same time, there are broader concerns about whether the province’s affordable housing strategy will benefit those most in need given its reliance on private entities to implement the strategy.  Among voters, some point to housing affordability challenges that are making it difficult for them to find adequate housing options even as the province tries to promote affordability to attract more workers from other provinces such as Ontario. 


      • British Columbia announces new plans to create more affordable housing, combat speculation and prevent homelessness 

        The British Columbia government announced the “Homes for People” action plan, as part of ongoing efforts to tackle the province’s chronic housing problems. Key measures include allowing and incentivizing the construction of secondary suites, enabling more density across the province, further streamlining of local permitting systems to expedite housing development, using public lands to deliver affordable homes and introducing an anti-flipping tax to tackle speculation in housing. The measures are backed up by $4 billion in investments over the next 3 years with a 10 year commitment of $12 billion. The government is also implementing Belonging in BC, a plan that adds 3,900 supportive housing units and 240 complex-care spaces to prevent and reduce homelessness. For 2023, $1.18 billion has been budgeted for the initiative. 

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