Housing policy news: November 2022

November 30, 2022

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:
Housing policy developments NOV 2022


  • The Auditor General reports that the federal government does not know if it’s reducing chronic homelessness

    This month, Canada’s Auditor General (AG) released a report evaluating the Federal Government’s efforts on ending chronic homelessness. The report found that despite spending billions on initiatives, Infrastructure Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation did not know whether their efforts were improving housing outcomes, or in some cases, who was benefitting from their initiatives. The report also found that the rental units approved under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund were often unfordable for low-income households.

    The AG called on federal departments to coordinate their efforts on reducing homelessness, enhance their data collection and analysis strategies, and assess whether current initiatives are addressing the needs of vulnerable groups. The AG warned that without increased accountability and coordination, the government was unlikely to achieve the National Housing Strategy target of reducing chronic homelessness by 50% by 2028.
  • The Federal Housing Advocate says Canada’s National Housing Strategy must be fixed 

    This month marks five years since the federal government released its 10-year, $72-billion National Housing Strategy which aims to solve Canada’s housing and homelessness crisis. The strategy promised to reduce core housing need and cut chronic homelessness by 50% by 2028. Marie-Josée Houle, Canada’s Federal Housing Advocate, argues that the current housing strategy is not working and that the number of people in housing precarity has increased over the last five years due to the rising cost of rent and inflation, few protections against eviction, and an unforgiving housing market.

    The Federal Housing Advocate calls for the strategy to be overhauled to reflect the realities of today’s world. She proposes refocusing the strategy towards helping low-income people stay housed as they cope with the impacts of inflation. She also calls for the strategy to take a for-Indigenous, by-Indigenous approach by providing Indigenous governments with the resources to respond to the housing crisis in their communities. Lastly, she calls for the strategy to put a greater focus on funding the development, repair, and acquisition of not-for-profit and permanently affordable housing.



  • New Brunswick government rejects call to extend rent cap 

    In New Brunswick, the government rejected calls from housing advocates to extend the rent cap introduced earlier this year in response to rapid rent increases. Instead, the province tabled amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act that would link certain rent increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) if challenged by a tenant. Under the legislation, the Residential Tenancies Tribunal has the option to spread a rent increase over two or three years, if it’s more than the CPI. The legislation also removes “all-unit increases” as an acceptable reason for a rent increase. If a complaint is submitted, a landlord must prove that the new rent is reasonable compared to other units in the same geographic area, even if all the units in a building get the same increase. Jill Green, the Minister responsible for Housing and Service New Brunswick, argued that the bill strikes a balance between protecting tenants without dissuading housing developers.

    Housing advocates say that removing the rent cap will leave tenants worse off. When faced with unfair rent increases, the legislation puts the onus on tenants to submit a challenge to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal if they want to get relief. With tenants already receiving rent increases above the current cap, advocates worry that removing it will leave many tenants in a vulnerable position and unable to pay rising rents.


  • Concerns raised over housing affordability in Nova Scotia

    A growing number of tenants in Nova Scotia say they face housing affordability challenges. According to data from Rentals.ca, asking rental prices in Atlantic Canada have increased by 32.2% in the past year. In October, Nova Scotians had the second-highest average rent in Canada at $2,443 a month. Though the province has a temporary 2% rent cap in place for existing leases, rent can be raised for a new lease if a tenant leaves or is evicted. These increases have been driven in part by a surge in immigration to the province during the pandemic which drove up demand in locations where housing options were limited. This has left many Nova Scotians in precarious financial positions, with 45% of households in cities like Halifax paying unaffordable rents. In response, advocates are calling on the province to prioritize housing affordability by increasing investments in public housing.


  • P.E.I. introduces legislation that will impact renters

    The P.E.I. provincial government introduced several bills in November that will impact tenants in the province. Bill 80, introduced on November 1, 2022, limits allowable rent increases to 0% for 2023. The bill came in the wake of an announcement by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC), which planned to set the allowable rent increase for 2023 at 10.8% for oil-heated units and 5.23% for unheated units – the Commission’s highest rates on record.

    On November 15, 2022, the government tabled a new Residential Tenancy Act. Key measures in the bill include a 3% cap on rent increases starting in 2024, an extension to the notice period for renovictions from 60 days to six months, and a ban that prevents landlords from charging penalties on rent paid late. The bill also recognized housing as a human right.

    Housing advocates in P.E.I. say that there are several loopholes in the proposed legislation that put the security of tenure at risk for renters. Cory Pater with P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing expressed concern that the bill allows landlords to apply for additional rent increases over the proposed 3% cap and permits the continued use of renovictions. Advocates are calling on the province to introduce a rental registry to protect tenants from illegal rent increases.  



  • Ontario passes Bill 23 amid criticism

    Concerns about Bill 23, the Ontario Governments More Homes Built Faster Act, continued to grow throughout November. Over a hundred non-profits and housing groups wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford expressing concern about the bill’s impact on funding for affordable housing, the threat it poses to the existing housing supply, and its limits on inclusionary zoning policies. The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) joined several housing groups in making submissions on the bill to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy and deputed in person at Queen’s Park. In particular, CCHR is extremely concerned about the provisions that limit municipalities to preserve their existing affordable rental housing stock through demolition and conversion bylaws.

    Joining the growing chorus of concern, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Ontario Big City Mayors group, and the City of Toronto called the provincial government to eliminate provisions in the bill that would cut development charges and drastically reduce municipal revenues by $5 billion. Despite the range of criticism, Bill 23 was passed by the Ontario Government on November 28.
  • Ontario boosts ‘strong mayor’ powers to fast-track housing development

    This month, the Ontario government introduced Bill 39, Better Municipal Governance Act, which allows mayors in Toronto and Ottawa to pass by-laws with support of just one-third of their Council. The bill will also allow the provincial government to unilaterally appoint the Regional Council heads for Niagara, Peel and York regions and appoint facilitators to expand strong mayor powers to Durham, Halton, Peel, Niagara, and Waterloo. Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, argued that the changes were needed to address the province’s housing crisis and achieve the government’s goal of building 1.5 million new homes over the next decade.

    While several mayors have expressed support for the move, Ontario’s opposition party along with municipal councillors have called the bill an “affront to democracy” by bringing in minority rule and eroding the ability of councillors to represent their constituents.



  • Les défenseurs du droit au logement lancent une tournée panquébécoise pour réclamer plus de logements sociaux

    Les défenseurs du droit au logement basés au Québec se sont lancés dans une tournée provinciale pour exiger que la province construise plus de logements sociaux. Ils affirment que plusieurs projets de logements sociaux et abordables prévus ont été suspendus en raison d’un manque de financement de la part de la province. Ils demandent au gouvernement provincial de construire au moins 50 000 logements sociaux au cours des cinq prochaines années. Ils demandent également à la province d’allouer davantage de fonds au programme AccèsLogis, qui regroupe des ressources publiques, privées et communautaires pour construire des logements sociaux et abordables.


  • Advocates launch cross-Quebec tour to demand more social housing 

    Advocates in Quebec have launched a province-wide tour to demand the province build more social housing. They claim that several planned social and affordable housing projects have been put on hold due to a lack of financing by the province. Advocates are calling the provincial government to build at least 50,000 social housing units over the next five years. They are also asking the province to direct more funding to the AccèsLogis program, which pools public, private and community resources to build social and affordable housing.



  • Manitoba advocates raise alarm about extreme rent increases 

    Housing advocates in Manitoba are raising the alarm as the Residential Tenancies Branch has permitted landlords to raise rents by an average of 9% in 2022. Despite the province’s rent control guidelines being set at 0%, landlords have been extremely successful in applying for above-guideline rent increases (AGIs). Advocates say these increases are compounding the housing affordability crisis in Manitoba by contributing to “economic evictions.” They call on the provincial government to strengthen rent regulations to protect lower income tenants and the affordability of rental housing in Manitoba. 


  • Saskatchewan government faces criticism over social housing supply

    This month, the Government of Saskatchewan faced criticism over its management of the province’s social housing supply. Stories of vermin infestations in housing units in Saskatoon and an explosion at a vacant housing unit in Regina, have raised concerns about the current state of social housing units run by the province. The NDP, the province’s official opposition party, has said that years of government neglect and the inability of residents to qualify for housing has left 3,000 social units vacant across the province. Advocates say that the high vacancy rate in social housing is particularly problematic with housing affordability issues and homelessness on the rise and several exposure deaths being reported as temperatures drop.
  • Changes utility rates and income assistant programs contributing to rise in evictions

    The recent rise in rental and utility costs across Saskatchewan — on top of increasing inflation — is leading to an increase in evictions among lower-income renters. In 2022, the province’s electricity (SaskPower) and natural gas (SaskEnergy) providers announced rate increases of 17% and 4% respectively, with additional increases planned for 2023 and 2024. This was compounded by an average 10% to 15% increase in rental costs over the last year as landlords responded to rising inflation. Advocates say that as temperatures cool down, these rate increases are increasingly forcing lower-income renters into precarious financial positions. Many tenants are falling into arrears that may result in eviction if unpaid.

    This trend has been exacerbated by changes to Saskatchewan’s social assistance programs. Prior to 2019, the cost of basic utilities was covered by the province and paid directly to utility providers, ensuring recipients did not fall into arrears. However, the implementation of the Saskatchewan Income Support Program (SIS) in 2019 wrapped utility coverage into the province’s shelter allowance and transferred the responsibility for payment to recipients, except in extreme cases. Advocates say that low-income tenants are being forced to choose between paying rent, food or utilities. In response, they are calling on the province to support low-income tenants by reinstating a utility benefit paid directly to utility providers.


  • Alberta Tenants Call for Rental Caps and Registry Amid Soaring Housing Costs 

    This month, the Alberta ACORN chapter held rallies outside of Boardwalk REIT’s head office in Calgary to demand measures for rent control in the province. The group reports that rent prices for a one-bedroom rental in Calgary have risen more than 27% in the past year, one of the biggest hikes in the country. Advocates say that the lack of protections for tenants is forcing more people than ever before to struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

    The Calgary Residential Rental Association responded to these calls, claiming that rent controls are not needed. They claimed that the province has some of the most affordable rents in the country and that rent controls would deter investors and the private sector from building new housing.


  • BC Premier Introduces Measures to Address Housing Affordability

    David Eby, the new Premier of British Columbia, announced two bills aimed at addressing the province’s housing affordability crisis. Bill 43, Housing Supply Act, will require the fastest-growing communities – estimated at eight to ten municipalities – to establish housing targets in consultation with the province. If communities are not meeting the targets set under the new legislation, the province could issue directives or recommend compliance measures.

    The Premier also proposed amendments to the province’s Strata Property Act that would ban age-based restrictions in condominium properties. These restrictions make it difficult for families to find housing and force people to move if they have children. The amendments will also ban restrictions that prevent strata owners from renting out their units, which can potentially turn thousands of empty units into homes for renters. Advocates say that the measures are a step in the right direction but call on the province to expand measures that prevent illegal evictions and to establish controls that regulate how much rent can be increased to a subsequent renter when a unit becomes vacant.


  • Federal advocate explores systemic housing issues in Northern visit 

    Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census shows that a third of the Inuit communities of Inuit Nunangat – a traditional territory covering Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Northern Quebec, and Labrador – still live in inadequate, overcrowded and dangerous housing conditions. The housing situation in these communities has worsened since the last Census in 2016, with an increase of 1.2% of dwellings in need of major repairs in Inuit Nunangat. A study in 2019 found that poor living conditions were at the root of the disproportionately high rates of tuberculosis among Inuit communities. Housing in these communities has been underfunded and neglected. More than $3 billion is needed in the next 10 years to address the housing needs of Inuit Nunangat communities, according to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, an organization representing Inuit peoples in Canada.


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