Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser, second from right, speaks to reporters with the Atlantic provincial housing ministers after their meeting in Halifax on Jan. 15.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

The federal and Atlantic provinces’ housing ministers say they’re looking at ways to boost factory-built housing for the East Coast, as the region’s population keeps rising at a rapid pace.

The ministers said Monday after a meeting in Halifax that one chapter in the federal housing design catalogue will be specifically aimed at the Atlantic region, with preapproved designs taking into account regulations, climate and available materials in the region.

Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has been promoting the housing catalogue and more factory-built homes as a modernized version of efforts from the post-Second World War era, when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. developed simple blueprints to accelerate housing construction.

The housing ministers told journalists after their meeting they’re also eager to see an increase in production of modular housing – homes built in segments in factories and transported to a building site for completion.

However, Fraser said at this point the move to mass-produced housing for the region is a “framework,” and details of specific, additional funding and programs haven’t been fleshed out.

“In order to continue this work, we’ve discussed having a followup meeting in April this year in Ottawa,” he said. “And we’ll engage again this summer in Atlantic Canada … The first step is to agree we’re going to work together.”

John Lohr, the Nova Scotia housing minister who chaired the meeting, said he'd like to see results from the push for more factory-produced housing by “mid to late summer,” while also saying, “We need it now, clearly.”

Factory-built housing is one of Ottawa’s responses to strong criticism over the cost of living, caused in part by rising home prices and rents. The CMHC has estimated that 3.5 million more housing units will be needed by 2030 to start dealing with the housing affordability issue.

Jill Green, the minister of housing in New Brunswick, said modular housing is a growing industry in her province, and developing a common set of regional standards for mass production will be useful.

“We all want to use modular construction as a piece of the solution for the housing crisis,” she said. “It means that all Atlantic provinces can use the same designs and all the modular contractors can bid on the same project and be on the same playing field.”

From the room where the housing ministers were holding their news conference, an encampment of tents was visible, where dozens of homeless people in Halifax have been struggling to stay warm this winter.

Asked how the announcement Monday would make a significant difference to those in the encampment, Fraser said the homelessness issue is best addressed by local and provincial governments “who are closer to the ground and are better able to tailor the solutions to their own communities.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe