Housing policy news: June 2023

July 5, 2023

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • New data shows larger investors own majority of investment properties in BC and Ontario 

    The Canadian Housing Statistics Program has analyzed new data which shows that a majority of condominiums used for investment purposes in British Columbia and Ontario are owned by businesses or individuals who hold at least three properties. This trend is concentrated in smaller cities where properties remain cheaper. For example, in Ontario, over 80 percent of investment properties in Windsor, London and Belleville are owned by larger investors. The findings help fill a significant data gap in understanding the role of investors and the extent to which they are driving up demand and influencing escalating house prices in the country. 

  • A major real estate player advocates for more diverse, affordable housing options

    Re/Max, a major real estate brokerage released a report advocating for 15-minute neighbourhoods, a concept that has traditionally been championed by planners where housing is made available close to work, amenities and other daily necessities. The report focuses on solutions for smaller municipalities where populations are growing rapidly, calling for a greater mix of market and non-market housing options to cater to diverse housing needs. 

  • New CMHC indicators show low-income renters and new tenants face disproportionate challenges with housing affordability 

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has added two new indicators to better understand Canada’s rental housing market. The first indicator measures the share of units that are affordable for the lowest income group of renters. It shows that with the exception of Quebec City and Montreal, less than five percent of rental housing options are affordable for the bottom 20 percent of Canada’s income earners. In Vancouver and cities across Ontario, almost no lower-income households have access to affordable housing.  

    The second indicator distinguishes between average rents for units that were rented in the last 12 months and the average rent of those units that have been occupied for more than a year. This measure helps paint a picture of the kind of rental market that renters are entering when looking for a new place. The difference between the two measures is especially large in major population centres, cities with low vacancy rates as well as those jurisdictions with rent increases subject to guidelines. For example, Toronto and Vancouver, where all the above conditions apply, the difference is about $500. Notably, Calgary and Edmonton, where no rent regulations exist, the difference between the average rents of newer and older units is $50. 

  • Tenant advocates call for provinces to focus more on the rental crisis 

    Housing advocates are calling for more attention and action around rental housing ahead of the Council of the Federation’s meeting in July. CCHR’s Bahar Shadpour commented on the need for better rental protections and that all levels of government have to work collaboratively to solve the crisis. She also advocated for basic legal protections for tenants across the country. Other recommendations include developing rental registries to offer a degree of transparency in the housing market, and potentially giving prospective tenants a better picture of previous rents before they decide to move into a new place. Council chair and Manitoba premier, Heather Stefanson, noted that premiers are working to address housing affordability challenges, but she did not say whether rental prices will be a focus of discussion during the upcoming meeting. 



  • Advocates call for more public housing in Nova Scotia 

    After decades of disinvestment in public housing, calls are growing for the provincial government in Nova Scotia to once again play a more proactive role in creating affordable housing options for lower income households as the number of people experiencing homelessness and those living in core housing need is increasing while the wait for a public housing unit grows. However, the provincial government notes that Nova Scotia still has some of the highest concentrations of public housing options in the country and that it is focused on improving the quality and living conditions of its existing public housing stock. This focus follows an audit that found many of the public housing buildings are poorly managed.  



  • Barrie backtracks on bylaws that would prohibit charitable support to unhoused people 

    Barrie’s City Council unanimously voted to refer back to staff a pair of bylaws that were intended to prohibit charitable organizations from distributing food and water to unhoused people on public properties. After receiving significant community pushback, including over 20,000 emails sent to Councillors, the Council backtracked on its proposed bylaw as many argued that it would violate unhoused people’s individual rights and liberties.  

  • Toronto elected Olivia Chow as its new mayor 

    On June 26, Toronto elected Olivia Chow as its new mayor in a by-election. The new mayor will have to lead the city in solving its housing affordability crisis and address the growing issue of homelessness and housing precarity. As part of her goal of addressing homelessness and housing affordability, Chow has promised several notable commitments including opening up more 24/7 respite sites for people experiencing homelessness, creating 3,000 rental supplements with the help of the federal and provincial governments, and raising the Municipal Land Transfer Tax on luxury homes as part of some of the enhanced revenue tools to fund affordable housing initiatives.  


  • Quebec government proposes new changes to landlord-tenant relations that has sparked protest 

    The Quebec government tabled Bill 31, which would make it easier for landlords to refuse a tenant’s request to assign his or her lease amongst many other proposed changes. In an environment where rents have been escalating, lease assignments have given some tenants a way to limit rent increases. The change has provoked protests amongst tenant advocates. Other changes in the Bill include a new provision where landlords have to indicate the maximum rent in a lease for the next five years and increasing compensation requirements for landlords who want to evict tenants. 



  • Winnipeg opens a new supportive housing complex with support from all three levels of government 

    The Ross Ellen Housing Complex – a new supportive housing project – was opened in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood to house people living with mental health challenges and addictions who are at risk of becoming homeless. The 3-storey, 47-unit complex was once a boarded-up warehouse that lay vacant for 24 years. With funding from all levels of government as well as private philanthropy, the building is expected to be managed under a housing first, recovery-oriented model. Some units are designed to be accessible for people with disabilities while support staff will also be available 24/7. 


  • Calgary City Council supports recommendations made by its Housing Task Force to address the city’s housing affordability challenges 

    Calgary City Council voted in favour of recommendations made by its housing and affordability task force after first voting against it, an outcome that provoked significant criticism along with the subsequent reversal in decision. As the affordability crisis impacts Calgarians living on low- to moderate-incomes, the recommendations consist of actions to increase and diversify the housing options in the city, strengthen ties within the housing sector, and improve living conditions for renters. Specific proposals ranged from eliminating conditions around parking minimums to studying the impact of rent control which does not currently exist.  

british columbia

  • BC government identifies 47 municipalities that need to expedite housing development 

    The British Columbia government has identified 47 municipalities that need to focus on expediting housing development through measures such as streamlining approvals processes and updating zoning bylaws. Municipalities such as Surrey and Nanaimo have been identified as those that will have to meet higher housing targets.  

  • New data shows BC renters are the most negatively impacted by the housing crisis in Canada 

    New data from the Canadian Rental Housing Index shows that British Columbia has the highest share of renters paying more than 50 percent of their income on shelter. Nearly four out of 10 renter households are paying over 30 percent of their income on shelter, while racialized and/or women-led households are disproportionately paying unaffordable rents. The Canadian Rental Housing Index is a database of rental housing statistics developed by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), in partnership with Vancity. 

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