Housing policy news: October 2023

October 31, 2023

The latest developments in housing policy from across Canada:


  • Oral hearings for the financialization review panel began on October 23 

    The oral hearings for Canada’s first human rights review panel on the financialization of purpose-built rental housing began on October 23, 2023, after the panel received 194 written submissions from stakeholders across the country. During the first week, the panel heard from the Federal Housing Advocate, experts on the impacts of financialization, and organizations with expertise on human rights and the right to adequate housing. CCHR joined fellow experts to elaborate on our submission detailing the impacts of the financialization of purpose-built rental housing on tenants across Canada, to answer questions, and to recommend solutions to address financialization.  

  • Advocates across Canada hold National Day of Action for social housing

    On October 5, housing advocates across the country joined a National Day of Action organized by the Social Housing and Human Rights initiative, calling on the federal government to invest in social housing. Rallies for the Day of Action took place in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Mount Pearl, Victoria and Thunder Bay. Advocates made a unified call urging the federal government to act on its legal obligation to fulfill the right to housing by investing in a minimum of 30,000 new social housing units annually over 10 years, where rents are no more than 30% of household income in perpetuity. They also urged the government to invest in the acquisition, construction, operation, and maintenance of new and existing public, non-profit, and cooperative-owned housing that meets the unique and varied requirements of people experiencing core housing need and homelessness. Advocates emphasized that these measures are necessary to combat the loss of affordable housing which is happening at an alarming rate for various reasons, including because existing properties are not being maintained or because operating agreements for funding are expiring.  
  •  Federal Housing Minister says to expect new housing measures in the fall budget update  

    In a news conference this month, Housing Minister Sean Fraser said that more housing measures will be revealed in the fall fiscal update. Some of the expected measures include tying federal infrastructure spending to housing outcomes in local communities, more policies geared toward increasing the stock of social housing and increasing workers’ skills and innovation in the construction industry. He said that there will also be measures to address financialization of housing. On the issue of short-term rentals, Minister Fraser said that the federal government could discourage short-term rentals through federal tax rules and could make federal funding for other levels of government conditional on those governments also taking steps to discourage short-term rentals. The federal government has started reaching deals with some municipalities as part of the Housing Accelerator Fund, and Minister Fraser said the government is prioritizing funding to cities that are proposing the most ambitious policies to address the housing crisis, such as ending exclusionary zoning and using municipal lands to build more housing. 

  • Research report shows that Canada’s rental crisis is getting worse 

    According to a report analyzing rental listings across Canada, the national average asking price for rent in September 2023 was $2,149, which represents an increase of more than 11% from 2022. Toronto and Vancouver still have the most expensive rents in Canada, but other major Canadian cities are catching up, such as Calgary which witnessed an increase of 13% to the asking rent for one and two bedrooms. 



  • Nova Scotia releases housing plan  

    Nova Scotia’s Housing Minister announced the province’s housing plan which will entail spending $1 billion over the next five years to help increase housing supply. Many of the initiatives in the plan are a continuation of previously announced programs, such as low-interest loans to help non-profit groups purchase and maintain affordable housing. New measures include a “backyard suite” incentive program. Nova Scotia currently faces a shortage of 27,300 units, spiraling housing costs, and one of the fastest growing populations in Canada. The plan has been criticized for lacking a definition of affordable rent or mortgage, clear commitments to build publicly owned and operated housing, and clear goals.  



  • Toronto City Council votes to increase the vacant home tax to 3%  

    Toronto City Council has voted to increase the City’s vacant home tax from 1% to 3% amid the growing housing crisis. Council also approved a motion to direct at least $10 million of any additional revenue from the tax increase to a City housing program that will provide grants to non-profit housing operators to buy rental housing from the private market. The vacant home tax was first introduced in December 2021, with the goal of making more units available on the rental market. Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said during the spring by-election that the city wants to use revenues from the tax to fund the creation of affordable housing and the purchase of older buildings to protect affordable housing. City staff say that revenues amounted to $54 million after the first full year of the tax and are projected to be $105 million for 2025 after the increase is implemented.  

  • City of Toronto releases new housing plan  

    The City of Toronto has released a staff report which outlines recommended actions for strengthening Toronto’s housing system and addressing the needs of low- and middle-income households. The report is in response to City Council’s direction to develop a plan to approve 25,000 rent-controlled units, in addition to the units that are already planned in the City’s 10-year housing plan, bringing the total up to 65,000 rent-controlled homes by 2030. The report also includes five proposed sites where the City will act as a public builder, meaning that it will lead all aspects of the delivery of these sites. Mayor Olivia Chow is hoping that the recommended actions will allow 21,000 homes to be built within three years. The recommendations are contingent on significant financial investment from the provincial and federal governments. The recommendations in the report also include requesting the federal and provincial government to make legislative changes that will incentivize private developers to include more affordable rental units in their developments and prevent renovictions. The report was adopted by the Executive Committee on October 31, 2023, and will be considered by Toronto City Council on November 8, 2023.


  •  Quebec plans to spend $1.8 billion on affordable housing in the next five years  

    The Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada reached an agreement under which the federal government will provide the province with $900 million under the Housing Acceleration Fund (HAF), which the province has pledged to match for a total of $1.8 billion. Quebec’s National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion pledging it would spend all this funding on non-market housing options over the next five years, including co-operative housing, low-income housing, and subsidized housing. Although housing advocates say the Assembly’s motion is a good sign, they will take the government’s promise seriously once it lays out its spending priorities.


British Columbia

  • British Columbia puts new legislation in place to address the rise in short-term rentals  

    British Columbia has put in place new legislation to help municipalities regulate short-term rentals. Short-term rentals are contributing to the housing crisis by affecting the availability and prices of long-term rental housing, and according to the province, they are now at an all-time high. The legislation limits short-term rentals to within a host’s home, or a basement suite or laneway home on the property where they reside. It also includes stronger enforcement provisions such as increased fines, the creation of a provincial enforcement unit, and a requirement that short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb share data with municipalities to improve local enforcement. Although some municipalities such as Vancouver already have strict rules on short-term rentals, they are struggling to enforce them and are welcoming the support from the province to help tackle this issue. Fairbnb Canada said the legislation had the potential to set a new standard for short-term rental regulation in Canada, and that it would monitor the development of fines for platform accountability. The announcement came a month after a new study from McGill University was published, which shows that short-term rentals eat up 19% of the available rental housing stock in the province and contribute to a 16% increase in rent prices.  



  • Funding announced for housing units to be built in Nunavut  

    The Government of Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) are working together to invest nearly $30 million to construct 21 new housing units in Nunavut, as part of the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative. All rentals will include affordable and accessible units that will be designated for Indigenous residents and women. QIA President Olayuk Akesuk emphasized the need for continued investment towards improving the infrastructure gap in Canada’s Arctic and addressing the housing needs of Inuit communities in Nunavut.  
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