Housing policy news: January 2024

February 5, 2024

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • 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. 



  • 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.



  • 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. 


  •  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.  




  • 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. 



  • 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 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. 
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