Housing policy news: February 2022

February 28, 2022


  • Canada’s first Federal Housing Advocate has been appointed On February 4, the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Honourable Ahmed Hussen, announced that Marie-Josée Houle has been appointed as Canada’s Federal Housing Advocate, for a 3-year term. The Federal Housing Advocate’s role is key to ensuring that the government fulfills its commitment to advance the right to housing for all in Canada. This is a significant new mechanism to claim the right to housing in Canada, because it can ensure that affected groups participate and contribute to the realization of their right to housing. Learn more about the Advocate’s role and the other key mechanisms that are in place to advance the right to housing.
  • Rights-based recommendations for the 2022 federal budget In February 2022, the federal government opened its pre-budget consultation process, requesting Canadians to share ideas and priorities for its 2022 budget. CERA submitted recommendations to the federal government to advance the right to housing through its 2022 budget in the following ways: developing and implementing an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy; enhancing supports for people experiencing homelessness; increasing investments in deeply affordable housing; promoting the construction of affordable purpose-built rental housing; protecting the existing affordable housing supply; assisting tenants and stabilizing their housing, and; adequately funding the mechanisms under the National Housing Strategy Act so that they can effectively carry out their mandates.
  • Inuit leader calls for the federal budget to address the Inuit housing crisisNatan Obed, the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, has called on the federal government to include increased investments in building and repairing thousands of housing units for Inuit communities in its 2022 budget. These communities have faced decades of severe issues related to overcrowding and substandard housing, which also contribute to spreading infectious diseases. Mr. Obed also called on the government to bring all housing programs impacting Inuit communities in line with international human rights law, and to deliver funds directly to Inuit organizations to administer themselves.
  • The federal government announces housing investments to support Black householdsOn February 1, the federal government announced that it would invest up to $50 million for Black-led organizations to build housing, as well as to fund affordable housing for Black renters. The government indicated that the reason for this investment is to address the high and disproportionate number of Black Canadians who are in core housing need and who pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs.


  • Charlottetown adopts new regulations for short-term rental units Charlottetown city council has approved a bylaw to limit the types of housing units that are permitted to operate as short-term rentals in the city. The new bylaw bans property owners from operating multiple short-term rental properties. Short-term rentals will only be allowed in primary residences. The council is still considering whether it will apply a one-year grace period before the rules come into effect, and is set to make a final decision at an upcoming meeting in March. If the grace-period is applied, the new rules would take effect on March 28, 2023.


  • A new provincial affordable housing program has been launched On February 3, the Quebec government announced a new program, called the Programme d’habitation abordable Québec (PHAQ), which will provide for-profit housing developers with subsidies if they commit to build affordable housing units which are held at the median market rate for at least 15 years. Advocates have expressed concern that the program does not address the needs of some of the most vulnerable groups, such as low-income tenants, and that the government has not been clear as to whether the new program would replace another subsidized housing program, AccèsLogis


  • Proposed amendments to Ontario’s Housing Services Act through a rights-based approach On February 17, CERA submitted recommendations to the Ontario government’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding its proposed amendments to the Housing Services Act (HSA). The HSA is a piece of legislation that sets out rules related to subsidized housing in the province. We provided a set of rights-based recommendations related to how the HSA governs Service Agreements between affordable housing providers and service managers, adjustments needed to improve service level standards, and the equitable management of social housing waiting lists.
  • Advocates in York Region discuss policy needs for a post-pandemic recovery Over 90 participants joined an event hosted by the Social Planning Council of York Region on January 28 to discuss the policies needed to address a range of issues that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. CERA’s Executive Director, Alyssa Brierley, suggested several policies to tackle the decades-long housing crisis that has worsened during the pandemic. Specifically, she recommended increases to the supply of purpose-built rental housing, increasing rent-geared-to-income housing, and amendments to zoning bylaws to increase densification so that more communities have greater access to services closer to where they live.


  • B.C.’s 2022 budget increases investments in housing but major gaps remain On February 22, the B.C. government released its 2022 budget, with increased investments in housing & homelessness prevention. Specifically, the budget dedicates funds aimed at preventing homelessness through the provision of rent supplements to stabilize housing, wraparound services for youth in or aging out of care, and housing sites for people with complex needs. It will also invest in research to identify the unique needs of women experiencing homelessness, including Indigenous women, women of colour and transgender persons. The budget also dedicates funds to build affordable housing, with the majority going toward the development of mixed-income rental housing for low-income families and seniors. However, advocates have highlighted gaps in the budget related to Indigenous housing, supports for people with disabilities and a lack of an acquisition strategy to protect existing affordable housing.
  • Vancouver is considering by-law amendments to better enforce property standards and maintenance On February 8, Vancouver city council unanimously voted in favour of requesting staff to develop recommendations for improving the effectiveness of its Standards of Maintenance by-law to better address properties that have a history of non-compliance. Specifically, city council has requested staff to consider recommendations to: raise minimum and maximum fines for certain violations; shorten the time period before the city can intervene when maintenance work has not been addressed; add cooling standards during hot weather. Council also requested staff to analyze the possible impact of these measures on tenant evictions, the possibility of requiring information to be posted in the lobbies of single-room occupancies, and requiring city staff to follow up with tenants after an inspection. City staff are expected to report back to council before the end of June 2022.


  • The City of Whitehorse considers setting up a new committee to help tackle its housing shortage Whitehorse city council is set to vote during the first week of March on a motion to establish a new Housing and Land Development Advisory Committee to address the city’s housing shortage. If established, the committee would make recommendations to city council on how to address roadblocks and opportunities for new housing developments, gaps in market and non-market rentals, and changes to policies and bylaws. The committee would be comprised of people from the construction industry, First Nations governments, and the wider community. 
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