Housing policy news: March 2024

April 4, 2024

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • Federal government announces new measures for renters from upcoming budget  

    On March 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced measures from the upcoming federal budget to support renters, including a new $15 million Tenant Protection Fund to provide legal aid for renters, a Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights to empower renters by requiring landlords to disclose a history of rental pricing, combatting renovictions, creating a standard lease, and measures to ensure that renters get credit for on-time rent payments. The government’s stated aim is to address the housing affordability crisis and ensure generational fairness in the rental housing market. However, many questions remain regarding the details, development, and implementation of the Renters’ Bill of Rights, whether $15 million will be adequate to support renters across the country, and whether consideration of renters’ rental history, as part of the credit for on-time rent payments measure, could have negative impacts on their credit scores. Read our response here

  • Auditor General finds federal government has made little progress in improving First Nations housing

    In its latest report, Auditor General Karen Hogan found that Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) have made limited progress in improving housing in First Nations communities over the last twenty years. As of 2024, only 20 per cent of First Nations housing needs have been met, with insufficient homes being built and repaired, alongside long-standing issues like mould. Over the past five years, CMHC and ISC spent $3.8 billion to improve the housing situation in First Nations. However, this falls short of the estimated $44 billion required to address First Nations housing needs, alongside an additional $16 billion when factoring in population growth. The Auditor General previously reported on the government’s progress in improving First Nations Housing in 2003, 2006, and 2011, highlighting the government’s ongoing failure to address First Nations housing needs. The government must increase investments and work with First Nations to meet its goal of closing the First Nations housing gap by 2030.  

  • Poll shows that more Canadians view homelessness as a national concern 

    The homelessness crisis has become an issue of concern for most Canadians. A new research poll indicates that a majority of Canadians view homelessness as a national concern, with two thirds of respondents describing homelessness as a major problem, and 71 per cent noting an increase in homelessness over the past three years. In terms of solutions, public support is strong for mental health support and temporary housing options. The majority of respondents also support offering incentives for developers to build affordable housing, devoting tax dollars to housing for people experiencing homelessness, and zoning changes to allow more units on standard lots.  



  • Nova Scotia Liberal Party introduces rent regulation legislation  

    In response to Nova Scotia’s housing crisis, the Liberal housing critic introduced two private members’ bills on March 5. The Rent Regulation Act proposes to extend the temporary provincial rent cap, which is currently set to end at the end of 2025, until the vacancy rate hits four per cent or higher, with annual reviews focusing on affordability and market conditions. Additionally, the Liberals introduced a bill to create an independent housing authority, as recommended by the Affordable Housing Commission, which aims to boost housing development, enhance quality, and maintain affordability.  



  • Toronto City Council Committee considers whether Hamilton renoviction by-law can work in Toronto

    In response to escalating rates of renovictions, the City of Toronto is looking to Hamilton’s new anti-renovictions bylaw as a potential solution. A motion was passed at the Planning and Housing Committee that directs staff to provide a report that analyses the Hamilton by-law, and how a similar approach would work in Toronto. In 2022, the number of formal renovation eviction applications filed by landlords (known as N13’s) tripled in Toronto, compared to 2015. This number only accounts for evictions carried out through the formal process and likely represents a fraction of informal renovictions taking place in the city. The Hamilton bylaw requires landlords to secure a building permit and engineer’s report laying out renovation plans and confirming that the unit must be vacant for renovations to proceed. The bylaw also imposes stricter requirements for landlords to support renter relocation and ensure they can return to the unit once renovations are complete at the same rental rate. Such bylaws offer promising opportunities to preserve affordable rental housing supply, while protecting current renters’ security of tenure.  

  • Ontario Green Party introduces new legislation to protect tenants  

    On March 6, the Deputy Leader of the Ontario Green Party introduced the Keeping People Housed Act, which aims to protect renters in Ontario from rising rents and renovictions. The private members’ bill proposes extending rent control to all buildings (including those built after November 2018), reinstating vacancy control to limit rent hikes between tenancies, providing greater supports for renters facing renovictions, and ensuring replacement units for demolished affordable housing. It also suggests forming a Rental Task Force which would investigate issues related to above guideline rent increases, which have been on the rise in Ontario, as well as the creation of a rent registry. The Green Party criticized Ontario’s current rental system, noting minimal fines for landlords who violate regulations. CCHR sent a letter of support for the bill, noting that it would significantly expand protections for and uphold the rights of Ontario renters, while helping to preserve housing affordability. 

  • Ontario risks losing federal funding for failure to meet affordable housing targets 

    Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has warned Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford that the province is at risk of losing $357 million in funding from the federal government, because it has failed to meet federal affordable housing targets, under a bilateral funding agreement. Minister Fraser has given the province until the end of the month to revise its proposed Action Plan in order to receive the funding, without the possibility of an extension. The current Action Plan proposes to only achieve 1,184 units out of the 19,660 affordable units required in the agreement by 2024-2025. Meanwhile, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Paul Calandra, has described the possible withholding of funds as unfair and punitive. He pointed to current challenges in the economic landscape and Ontario’s focus on repairing its aging housing stock instead of focusing on building new supply to explain why current affordable housing targets are not being met.  


  • Montreal relaxes construction regulations for social housing  

    Three years ago, Montreal introduced a new bylaw requiring developers to include social, affordable, and family housing in new construction. Although the bylaw was intended to stimulate the development of affordable housing, its impact has been limited due to several factors. Namely, many developers opted to pay a penalty under the bylaw, which would go into an affordable housing fund, rather than include affordable units in their projects. Inflation and labour shortages have also had a negative impact, all of which have delayed the development of 600 social units. The city recently loosened the rules under the bylaw by removing the obligation for developers to contribute to the affordable housing fund for projects with between 20 and 150 units. The government said that this is a temporary measure put in place to address rising inflation and labour shortage challenges faced by developers. The hope is that it will incentivize developers to build more affordable, social and family housing under the by-law. Other city council members believe that easing red tape around construction is the most effective way to incentivize developers to build more affordable housing.  



  • Canada and Manitoba announce rent supports for survivors of gender-based violence  

    On March 26, the federal and Manitoba governments announced an enhancement to the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) to provide housing supports for survivors of gender-based violence, including women, children, and 2SLGBTQI+ people. The federal government is investing $13.7 million, which will be cost-matched by Manitoba over five years. Manitoba is the first province to co-design a CHB program for survivors of gender-based violence, which does not require income testing in the first year of receiving the benefit. This is crucial because it acknowledges that individuals fleeing violence may be experiencing financial abuse or face barriers to accessing other types of benefits due to complex family situations. In the absence of sufficient affordable housing options, this can lead to homelessness or hidden homelessness.  

  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls for 10,000 social housing units in Manitoba 

    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a report urging the Manitoba government to construct 10,000 social housing units within the next decade to meet the needs of low-income renters. Highlighting the inadequacy of relying solely on the private sector for affordable housing, the report suggests several strategies, including utilizing provincial downtown parking lots, converting vacant buildings into apartments, and introducing a tax credit for sales of rental properties to non-profits. The upcoming provincial budget is expected to address these recommendations, acknowledging the broader social benefits of reducing costs associated with policing and healthcare. 

  • Winnipeg experiencing a spike in rental costs 

    A new report on the rental market in Canada shows Winnipeg experienced an alarming 26 per cent jump in one-bedroom rental costs over the past year. Despite rents in Winnipeg remaining at the lower end of Canada’s rental market, this significant rent increase strains affordability, with many households spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing and forced to make difficult spending decisions. Advocates call for creating more non-profit, cooperative, and non-market housing and implementing rent control measures to address the crisis of rising rents.  


  • Saskatoon’s housing crisis highlights need for more shelters and adequate housing  

    In Saskatoon, community groups and a city councilor are calling for more shelters and adequate housing in the city, as current shelters continue to be at capacity every night. This comes amid the cancellation of plans for a temporary shelter and push back against an existing emergency wellness center. Community concerns about safety and crime have intensified the debate. Advocates are calling for a balanced approach, emphasizing that while shelters are crucial, sustainable, affordable housing is the ultimate long-term solution to homelessness.  

British Columbia

  • B.C. Green Party introduce new bill to protect renters 

    On February 29, the B.C. Green Party introduced the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act to make housing more affordable and protect renters by preventing landlords from unreasonably increasing rents when a unit becomes vacant. This measure aims to end profit-driven evictions and increase housing stability. It draws inspiration from successful vacancy control measures in places like Manitoba and Germany, which would be a significant step towards addressing the housing affordability crisis in B.C. 

  • Vancouver city council takes steps towards preserving and expanding co-op housing 

    Vancouver city council is working to address the shortage of co-op housing by exploring options to preserve and expand the city’s co-op stock. Recognizing the importance of co-ops in providing affordable, family-sized units and fostering community, council directed staff to explore opportunities to build more co-op units on city-owned land and pilot new co-op models. This initiative aligns with ABC Vancouver’s election pledge to double the co-op housing stock, aiming to ensure long-term affordability and security for residents.

  • Inclusive housing needed for Indigenous Peoples with diverse abilities in B.C. 

    The Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) recently published a report examining the barriers to housing access for Indigenous peoples with diverse abilities, including the lack of housing supports and a complex housing system that is difficult to navigate, which increases the risk of homelessness. Individuals with complex and concurrent mental health and substance use care needs face additional barriers and a higher risk of experiencing homelessness. The report provides 26 recommendations that emphasize the need for Indigenous-led housing solutions, collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous housing providers, enhanced support services, and the importance of culturally safe and inclusive care. 
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