Photo: Blaney and Singh address media in Campbell River last spring.
On January 21st in Burnaby, Jagmeet Singh challenged Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to combat the housing crisis and bring relief to Canadians across the country. The NDP Leader announced the first part of his plan to build half a million affordable housing units over the next decade starting with the removal of the federal tax on the building of new affordable housing in the upcoming federal budget.
“Mr. Trudeau calls the housing situation a crisis; it’s time he starts acting like it,” said Singh.
“The Trudeau government keeps telling Canadians to wait for action on housing. Meanwhile they give billions in corporate tax giveaways and spend billions more on a pipeline. If we make different choices we can bring relief to Canadians and build half a million new affordable housing units.
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney supports Singh’s call. “Communities all across our riding are experiencing historically low vacancy rates,” said Blaney. “More and more renters, working people, and those on fixed incomes are being forced out of their homes if the house is sold or due to fire or flood as happened in Comox just last week, and they have nowhere to go. There simply aren’t any affordable units available.”
Blaney is encouraged by recent housing investments by the provincial government, but has repeatedly called for the federal government to speed up the funding promised in its National Housing Strategy. “People who are on the verge of homelessness – people who are experiencing homelessness now – they can’t wait until after the next election for funding to start to trickle in.”
The proposal to spur private investment in affordable housing by removing the GST from the cost of building new affordable housing units, did appear in the Liberals’ 2015 platform – but more than three years later they’ve taken no action. Singh also proposed giving low income renters immediate relief and help to first-time homebuyers with closing costs by doubling the Home Buyer’s tax credit. These are in addition to the NDP’s previous demand that the Trudeau Liberals fast-track direct investment into cooperative and non-market housing before the next election.
“Various governments have neglected the housing crisis or made things worse by cutting our housing programs. If we take bold action we can turn things around but it means we need to use every tool in our tool box, starting right away,” added Singh. “I’m challenging Mr. Trudeau to use the upcoming budget to spur the creation of affordable housing, provide immediate relief to renters and keep the dream of someday owning a home alive. Everyone in Canada should have a safe and affordable place to call home.”