Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the inability for young people in Canada to afford a home is an “intergenerational injustice” that must be fixed.
Speaking in Montreal on Monday to tout last week’s federal budget which includes several initiatives targeted towards first-time homebuyers, Freeland suggested housing is “the current economic challenge today.”
“One of the things that I am most concerned about as someone who — it shocks me to say this — is 53 years old, is the intergenerational injustice,” Freeland told reporters.
“We had a better shot at buying a home and starting a family than young people today, and we cannot have a Canada where the rising generation is shut out of the dream of home ownership.”
Freeland said the “core problem” is a lack of housing stock across the country. The budget, she said, is aimed at addressing that.
“We cannot have the fastest growing population in the G7 without also having the fastest growing housing stock,” she said.
The Liberal government is planning to spend $10.14 billion on housing over the next five years, according to last week’s budget. The document includes plans to double the pace of homebuilding in Canada in the decade ahead, support those already struggling with housing and limit profiteering in the sector.
The budget also seeks to introduce a new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (TFFHSA) to help Canadians struggling to get into the housing market save for the cost of a down payment.
Real estate hopefuls would be able to save $8,000 per year to a maximum of $40,000 per person towards the purchase of a first home.
Many young Canadians have spoken about the struggle to enter the real estate market as housing costs continue to rise. The average price of a home in Canada hit a new record of over $816,000 in February.
The budget predicted Canada will need to build around 3.5 million by 2031 to improve affordability, and lays out plans to double the annual pace of building in the country over the next decade, up from the current 200,000 units per year.
Conservative Party interim Leader Candice Bergen criticized the federal government’s timelines for failing to help Canadians looking to enter the housing market today.
“We’re seeing a housing program announced, as in typical Liberal fashion, that will actually result in not one house built or one house purchased this year,” she told reporters after the budget was released on Thursday.
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The NDP have said the budget includes spending incentives the party has pushed, including $1.5 billion to build new affordable homes and $4.3 billion toward new Indigenous housing.
The $1.5 billion will be invested in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s Rapid Housing Initiative, which will be extended by two years.
But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has still criticized the budget, saying it does not go far enough.
Freeland said on Monday the federal budget is “absolutely” targeted at getting more homes built across the country as soon as possible.
“That’s going to be your long-term answer to housing unaffordability in Canada,” she said.
–With files from Craig Lord