The federal government’s upcoming fall economic and fiscal update will include new measures to boost the supply of housing, federal ministers say.
The date of the fall update has not yet been announced, but Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland met with private-sector economists Friday and said in a statement afterward that the update “will outline further actions to make life and housing more affordable for Canadians.”
Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser repeated that pledge Monday during a news conference on Parliament Hill, where he said there are several new policies in the works that could be announced in the fall update and also over the coming months.
“You should expect to see additional measures more broadly in the months ahead as they are ready. I’m not going to wait and hold out for some magic date where we suddenly release all of the policies at once,” he said. “As soon as a policy is ready, we need to implement it so it will have the intended impact of leading to more homes for Canadians.”
Housing pressures are a top-of-mind concern for Canadians and all federal parties are attempting to position their proposals as the most effective options.
Mr. Fraser said the government’s future announcements could include updated rules for federal infrastructure funding so that transfers are more clearly tied to housing policy.
Other categories will include support for social housing and an industrial strategy aimed at attracting skills in areas such as modular home building, mass timber and 3-D printing.
“There will be a number of different measures that we look at that will be designed to scale up innovation and home building through technology that exists in Canada,” he said.
Mr. Fraser also promised a series of other measures related to “the financialization of housing.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who regularly promises in his party’s political advertising to boost the supply of affordable housing, criticized the Liberal government’s record during Monday’s Question Period.
Mr. Poilievre repeated his assertion that current high interest rates are being driven by federal deficit spending. He also said the government has been slow to deliver on past housing promises.
“Will they instead reverse their inflationary spending so we can bring down interest rates and let Canadians keep their homes?” Mr. Poilievre asked.
Mr. Fraser responded, pointing to recent local announcements by some cities to ease zoning restrictions and increase density in exchange for funding under the federal Housing Accelerator Fund.
“We’re continuing to roll out programs that are literally changing the ways that cities build homes,” Mr. Fraser said.
The $4-billion Housing Accelerator Fund was first promised in the 2021 election campaign, then formally announced in the 2022 budget and launched in July, 2023.
To qualify, cities must prove they are ending low-density zoning and encouraging high-density mixed-use developments, especially in urban areas and near transit stations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mr. Fraser have been making city-by-city announcements across the country since early September, doling out federal allotments from the fund.
The details announced to date are winning praise from some urbanism advocates.
Brent Toderian, a consultant and former chief planner with the City of Vancouver, said on X over the weekend that the recent municipal changes suggest the fund “is shaping up to potentially be the most impactful housing policy in Canadian history.”
Mr. Fraser said Monday that the federal government is “down to the short strokes” on a housing accelerator announcement with Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow.
“Mayor Chow’s approach to housing is, I’ve got to say, refreshing in a lot of ways,” Mr. Fraser said. “I had been planning on sending a letter to Mayor Chow inviting her to increase the ambition over the initial application, but she beat me to the punch. She wanted to do more.”