Housing policy news: May 2023

May 31, 2023

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • Prime Minister Trudeau promises new infrastructure plan to incentivize housing development 

    Speaking to Canada’s mayors at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus on May 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government’s intentions to introduce an infrastructure plan which aims to incentivize the creation of affordable housing across the country. The new plan will launch in the fall and follows an approach similar to Trudeau’s $15 billion transportation plan announced two years ago, by tying federal investments in municipal infrastructure projects with municipalities’ commitments to create affordable housing. The announcement was positively received by housing advocates, with some advising to put safeguards in place to encourage public investments in non-profit housing developments. The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights’ (CCHR) Director of Policy and Communications, Bahar Shadpour, told CBC that while we are in support of the plan, municipal and provincial regulations are needed to protect the existing affordable stock from “investors piggybacking on government investments”. 
  • CMHC releases its 2022 Annual Report

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its Annual Report for the year 2022 in early May, highlighting results on its portfolio of investments as well as its housing policy, research, and innovation programs. While CMHC’s net loss was higher compared to the previous year, progress has been made on two of the agency’s flagship initiatives. The Rapid Housing Initiative was renewed for a third round, putting Canada on track to build over 14,500 secure and affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness, while also working on the design of the new Housing Accelerator Fund to help municipalities fast-track housing development approval processes. For 2023, CMHC will be focusing on a strategy to improve housing for Indigenous peoples.  


New Brunswick  

  • Province to develop housing strategy by July 

    At the beginning of June, the province held a summit in Saint John to discuss ways to tackle the housing crisis with over 160 housing stakeholders, ranging from community groups and non-profit organizations to builders, developers, homeowners, educators, and students. The province’s Minister responsible for Housing, Jill Green, said she will use the information shared during the discussions to develop a housing strategy within six weeks. Outside the Convention Centre where the summit was held, ACORN advocates called on the Minister for stronger rent regulations and renoviction policies, in light of the New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants’ Rights report on affordable housing loss, released prior to the summit. The report shows that the number of units priced at or below $750 per month has decreased by 25% over a five-year period, while at the same time the number of units on the higher end of the market doubled, if not tripled. Advocates are calling for stronger rent protections for the existing affordable stock, such as reinstating rent caps. While the Minister remained vague about plans to include rent controls in the design of the new provincial housing strategy, stronger renovictions protections were introduced shortly after the summit. 


  • Rent prices and evictions are on the rise

    The Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (DLAS) and other housing advocates are calling for more funding for legal services for low-income tenants who are at risk of homelessness. The number of renters seeking out free legal help to deal with evictions has reached the point where DLAS was forced to halt its walk-in service during the month of May. While there is a 2% cap on rents, landlords can increase the rent at their discretion between tenants, and many are trying to get around the rent cap by offering fixed-term leases and carrying out evictions for renovations. These tactics are leaving low-income tenants struggling to keep their homes and in need of legal supports.



  • Toronto gives greenlight for citywide densification 

    At a Council meeting on May 10, the City of Toronto approved a new policy to allow for mid-rise residential housing in neighborhoods traditionally dominated by detached and semi-detached homes. This move could transform up to 70% of the city’s residential land known as the “yellow belt”. The new framework allows new multiplexes to be built up to three storeys high in low-density areas, and up to four storeys high in areas where taller buildings are already present, under the condition that the design of the new development is integrated to the surrounding environment’s physical features. The City should report back to Council with a review of the impacts after the delivery of the first 200 multiplex building permits. Council also requested that staff report back at a later date on the feasibility of deploying an incentive program to subsidize one affordable unit for each multiplex.


  • Lethal fire in Old Montreal spurs provincial government to introduce stronger regulations on short-term rentals 

    Bill 25 was introduced on May 9 by Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism, following the deaths of seven people in March due to a fire in an Old Montreal heritage building that had been operating illegal short-term rentals on Airbnb. Bill 25 will amend Bill 100, which mandated the registration of homes for short-term rentals, but lacked compliance and enforcement methods. It will require a certificate for registration and puts the onus on Airbnb to ensure that its listings comply with property maintenance and safety regulations, with the threat of a hefty fine for unlicensed rentals. It has not yet been determined when the bill would come into effect, but its introduction has been well-received from numerous organizations, including Fairbnb Canada which stated that the province-wide approach is exemplary because it unifies legislation for the whole province and provides the means to create a registry and enforce the regulations. 



  • Homelessness symposium to tackle poverty, mental health and housing 

    On May 29, over 100 government officials, advocates and lived experts convened in Winnipeg for the first-ever Homelessness and Poverty Symposium, held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Attendees discussed supports for mental health and addictions, and the need for deeply affordable housing options for low-income households.  


  • The UCP wins the Alberta provincial election, but a housing plan is yet to be unveiled

    The United Conservative Party (UCP) won the Alberta general election on May 29, taking 49 seats at the legislature, while the New Democratic Party (NDP) took 38 seats. The UCP remains confident in the 2021 provincial housing strategy “Stronger Foundations” and has not provided any new measure to address the issue of rent increases that has been felt across all urban centres in the province.  

  • Calgary’s Housing and Affordability Task Force releases its recommendations report

    Calgary’s Housing and Affordability Task Force released a report with six key recommendations to address housing affordability. The Task Force is composed of senior City staff, researchers and housing providers from diverse sectors, and it held a series of closed meetings to review existing housing programs and provide direction to Council on housing matters. To increase affordable housing supply in the city, the Task Force recommended enabling faster development of housing across the city, increasing available land for non-market housing, and ensuring that the supply of affordable housing meets the needs of Indigenous peoples and equity-deserving populations. The Task Force will present the set of recommendations to Council on June 6, and the report recommendations should inform the City’s Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy, set to be reviewed at the end of the summer.  

british columbia

  • Ten cities to pilot new housing targets 

    The province’s Housing Supply Act, which passed in November 2022, sets housing targets for municipalities to increase housing supply through densification. Under the Homes for People action plan launched in April, the government has committed an initial $4 billion investment to create density incentives, with an additional $12 billion pledged for the next 10 years. Incentives for municipalities include provincial funding for public amenities, upzoning, supportive housing and financial supports for renters. At the end of May, B.C.’s Housing Minister, Ravi Kahlon, shared the list of the 10 municipalities selected to test out the new housing targets. These municipalities will work with the provincial government over the summer to define the targets.



  • Person-focused strategy to combat homelessness 

    The Premier of the Northwest Territories, Caroline Cochran, tabled an interdivisional plan to support people experiencing homelessness and improve housing stability, saying a “whole-of-government approach is needed to adequately address homelessness in the territory.” The new strategy, “A Way Home”, includes the establishment of a dedicated unit to coordinate the work across departments, collaborating with community partners to improve access to services and increasing housing options, amongst other measures. The strategy aims to bring homelessness levels to a “functional zero” through a better distribution of shelter services across regions to keep people who are experiencing homelessness close to their communities and the social supports they need. The Premier hopes to establish the homelessness unit within the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs by October 2023.  

Get the latest updates about the right to housing in Canada