Housing policy news: February 2023

February 27, 2023

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • CMHC finding reveals that the majority of affordable homes approved under federal program not yet constructed

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has published findings in response to a written question from a member of Parliament which show that the majority of affordable units approved under Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative have not yet been constructed. The Rapid Housing Initiative was launched in 2020 to provide funding to cities and non-profit organizations to build affordable homes for vulnerable Canadians, especially those experiencing homelessness. The goal of the program is to build affordable housing quickly, as $2.5 billion were offered during the first two rounds of project funding, with the condition that approved units must be built within 12 months in most places or 18 months in northern or remote communities. However, construction delays indicate that many of the approved projects are unable to meet their deadlines and have not been constructed. While delays have been linked to supply chain disruptions, rising costs and weather-related issues, experts believe that pushback from neighborhood residents and a lack of support from provincial governments plays an important part in the delays. It is imperative that all levels of government collaborate to ensure affordable and supportive housing is developed across Canada and that the federal government addresses the data gaps preventing it from determining who is benefiting from housing programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative.
  • New statistics show that investors made up 20 to 30 per cent of homeowners in some provinces in 2020 

    New data from Statistics Canada shows that almost one third of homeowners in the country are investors. One in five homes in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was considered an investment property in 2020. Investors owned over 30% of Nova Scotia’s housing and 29% of New Brunswick’s housing. The new report further shows that condominiums are used more often as an investment compared to single-family homes, with Ontario having the highest rate of condominiums (over 40%) used as an investment. While rising home prices have created wealth for real estate investors across the country, many low- to moderate-income renters are struggling to find an affordable place to call home. These financialized actors sometimes leave units vacant instead of renting them out to many renter households in search of a home. Local governments are starting to implement a vacant home tax to address the negative impact of this financialization of housing. CCHR has made recommendations on how a vacant home tax can be best implemented to reduce the negative impact of housing financialization.
  • One in four Canadians are unable to cover an unexpected expense of $500

    New data released from Statistics Canada shows that one in four Canadians said that they are unable to cover an unexpected expense of $500. Nearly a third of women (29%) and a quarter of men (24%) reported facing a difficulty to pay an unexpected expense. Meanwhile, almost half of Canadians are very concerned with their ability to afford housing or rent, in addition to concerns over the rising prices of gasoline and food. Young adults were shown to be most concerned about their finances, in particular having to deal with high rents. Additionally, Black families and racialized communities are disproportionately impacted by the rising cost of housing, with 74% of Black Canadians and 65% of South Asians reporting concerns over the high cost of housing. This data provides further evidence that governments must prioritize the needs of those most impacted by the housing affordability crisis, especially renter households living on low- to moderate-incomes.  



  • Halifax sees highest year-over-year rent increase for a Canadian city

    According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Halifax had the highest year-over-year spike in residential rental costs in the country, with average rents increasing by 9%, which is well above the national average of 5%. Rising rents and low vacancy rates in the province are forcing more people to live in precarious housing situations and experience homelessness. In January, the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia identified 796 people who had been without housing for 6 months, which is significantly higher than the 250 individuals the association identified as experiencing chronic homelessness prior to the pandemic. The takeaway for many from the CMHC report is that more rental housing is urgently needed that would be affordable for low- to moderate-income households.

  • A big step for tenants rights: Small claims court awards renovicted tenant over $13K

    A Halifax small claims court has upheld a $13,662.15 award to tenant Brandy McGuire, ruling that her landlord, a Halifax developer, violated the province’s renoviction legislation. In March 2021, the ban on renovictions was lifted when the province’s state of emergency ended. Prior to the end of the renovictions ban, McGuire and her family were told that they had 60 days to leave their unit, because the building was beyond repair and the property would be retired. McGuire fought the eviction and won her case at the residential tenancies hearing, but that decision was later appealed by her landlord. McGuire’s legal counsel, Katie Brousseau at the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, said that McGuire’s recent victory at the appeal stage sets a precedent in such cases, making it “amongst the largest awards and amongst the very few, if only, decisions interpreting the renoviction provisions.” The amount awarded will go a long way in helping McGuire support her family, and housing advocates hope that her case will help protect the rights of other tenants in the province.



  • The City of Toronto passes its 2023 budget

    On February 15, the City of Toronto passed its 2023 budget. There were some positive commitments made in the budget to address housing and homelessness. For example, the budget makes an allocation of $800,000 to open one 24/7 warming centre until April 15. Since there are currently no 24/7 warming centres, this is a positive step that will support 50 people for 2 months. However, a motion calling for more 24/7 warming centres to meet the need of unhoused individuals in the city did not pass. The budget also expands the $6.2 million allocated for the Rent Bank by $1 million which will help more tenants who are at risk of eviction to pay their rent arrears and stabilize their housing. In addition, $848,000 was committed to the RentSafeTO program to hire more staff, while $882,000 was allocated towards establishing the role of the Housing Commissioner at the Ombudsman’s office. Further funds were committed to support the City in the creation of new affordable housing and supporting the implementation of a multi-tenant houses licensing program and the enforcement of short-term rentals. While the budget commits to supporting the Housing Secretariat’s Office to develop a renovictions by-law, no funding commitments were made towards expanding the Tenant Support Program to help the growing number of tenants facing renovictions. Despite the City of Toronto’s commitment to advance the right to housing, the budget failed to adopt a rights-based approach which would have prioritized the needs of those most impacted by the affordable and adequate housing crisis, and allocated the maximum available resources for initiatives that can house all Torontonians. Instead, funds were allocated to various programs, and then the leftover funds were used to fund critical initiatives in the city to house people.  

    CCHR provided recommendations on the budget in a written submission last month.

  • Advocates push the City of Ottawa to boost its proposed $15M affordable housing budget

    In response to the proposed budget for the City of Ottawa, housing advocates and some City Councillors are calling on the City to increase the budget earmarked for affordable housing, beyond the $15 million currently planned for 2023. Advocates from the Alliance to End Homelessness, the Council on Aging of Ottawa and the Ottawa Community Land Trust spoke at a meeting with the Planning and Housing Committee and urged them to double the City’s capital spending to $30 million to respond to inflation,  rising interest rates, rising rents and increases to the cost of constructing affordable units. They are also urging the City to explore other ways to add affordable housing such as using vacant city land. Four out of 12 Councillors on the Committee dissented on the capital portion of the budget and agreed that the budget should be increased, pointing to housing affordability as a key issue amongst constituents. While several Councillors were sympathetic to these concerns, there were no attempts made to increase the budget for affordable housing at the Committee level. The debate on the budget will head to City Council on March 1.

    Stakeholders have also provided written submissions expressing their concerns and recommendations on the proposed Ottawa budget, including the Right to Housing Coalition in Ottawa.
  • Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) make recommendations on how to address the health and homelessness crisis

    Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met with Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, to discuss the upcoming provincial budget, the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, as well as increases to infrastructure funding and solutions for homelessness in the province. The OBCM spoke about their commitment to doing their part to reach the province’s goal of building 1.5 million homes in 10 years, given the critical role that municipalities play in the building of new housing. They also called on the province to put a framework in place to ensure that the province’s goals are met as quickly as possible, by putting a Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team in place. The OBCM adopted a motion to create a health and homelessness strategy with recommendations made to the province including more flexible and predictable funding for supportive housing, more collaboration between the provincial government and agencies to reduce red tape and improve coordination related to wraparound supports for unhoused people. They are also calling for more investments in low barrier hubs that provide drop-in services for individuals who need support with addictions and mental health.



  • BC’s spring legislative session will likely include a budget to help address the housing affordability crisis

    The legislative session in British Columbia opened in early February, with the Finance Minister presenting the provincial budget in late February. Housing advocates want to see a budget that will adequately address pressing issues related to the province’s growing housing affordability crisis. The province has already allocated funds for housing, including $500 million for non-profit housing providers to purchase buildings and retain their affordability. Furthermore, the Housing Minister, Ravi Kahlon, said that the government will introduce 25 bills this session that reflect Premier David Eby’s priorities, including launching a housing refresh strategy and a road map for increasing housing supply in the province. Eby has promised to take steps to address the housing affordability crisis, including overhauling the province’s social housing program and building homes for middle-class families through the BC Builds program. CCHR will continue to monitor the budget and BC legislature for new developments.


  • Yukon Liberals and NDP sign a new confidence and supply agreement that makes changes to rental regulations

    Yukon’s Liberal and NDP parties have signed a new confidence and supply agreement that includes significant changes to rental regulations. One of the main changes is that landlords will now be prohibited 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. The agreement also includes a commitment to carry out a review of the Residential Tenancies Act by June, and to add further amendments to annual rent increases. The agreement further adds a minimum and maximum rate for rent increases, capping rent increases at 5% annually regardless of the rate of inflation. The ban on evictions and the rent cap were brought into effect immediately. Advocates in Yukon said that they are pleased to see greater protections being implemented for tenants, which will hopefully lead to greater justice for tenants overall.


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