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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government’s 22nd agreement aimed at speeding up construction of new housing during a visit Wednesday to southern New Brunswick.

He and federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser have been travelling the country to sign municipal and provincial deals in a bid to address Canada’s housing crisis.

On Wednesday, Trudeau was in Saint John, N.B., where he committed to spend $9.1 million on the construction of 285 housing units over the next three years.

“We know that people are worried that the promise (of progress) in Canada doesn’t hold the way it used to,” Trudeau told a news conference at an apartment complex. “That promise is that every generation should be able to succeed even better than the one before.”

The funding will come from Ottawa’s $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund, which was announced in March 2023. It’s aimed at encouraging municipalities to make changes to bylaws and regulations that will increase housing construction.

Under the program, the federal government is pushing for denser zoning rules, faster approval for building permits, increased use of public and underutilized lands, and incentives for non-profit and private home builders to develop affordable housing projects.

Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon described the announcement as a pivotal moment for the community on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy.

“As a city we are dedicated to accelerating the development of affordable housing, ensuring that every member of our community has a place to call home,” she said.

Trudeau’s Liberal government has faced intense criticism from the opposition for its response to a housing shortage that has led to skyrocketing rents and mortgage payments.

Last month, Fraser told The Canadian Press the government is working on a housing plan that will build on previous policies, which include eliminating GST charges on rental developments, increasing the amount of low-cost financing available to developers and launching consultations for a catalogue of pre-approved home blueprints.

Trudeau has said the Housing Accelerator Fund will help fast-track the construction of 450,000 new homes across Canada over the next 10 years.

“Our plan to double the rate of housing construction over the next decade will help build the housing supply we need,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as Indigenous partners, to keep building more homes for Canadians, faster, and make life better for everyone.”

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