Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers opening remarks at the start of a meeting with mayors of Canada’s largest cities in Ottawa, Thursday February 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers opening remarks at the start of a meeting with mayors of Canada’s largest cities in Ottawa, Thursday February 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises cities help to lower high cost of housing

PM says it can take 280 months for an average family to save a down payment in a place like Toronto

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised municipal leaders federal backing and resources toward efforts to address the high cost of housing that he says is creating a crisis for young and middle-class families.

The cost of housing has risen across the country, driven by a mix of low interest rates and demand outstripping supply as Canadians working from home look for more space.

Speaking to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual meeting, Trudeau said the cost of owning a home is out of reach for too many people in Canada’s largest cities, noting it can take 280 months for an average family to save for a down payment in a place like Toronto.

“Young people aren’t facing a housing problem, they’re facing a housing crisis,” Trudeau said Tuesday in a speech that had a campaign feel to it.

“We’ve got a generation of Canadians who are starting their lives, maybe hoping to start a family, without the same opportunity as their parents or grandparents to get a first home and build equity and their future. Things need to change.”

He said his government would look for ways to change the situation beyond what the Liberals have already laid out, but didn’t outline what those solutions might be.

Trudeau said in the speech that the federal government alone can’t cool housing costs, saying the levers exist at all levels of government, such as zoning rules and consumer protection regimes.

He said the Liberals will reach out to provinces and territories to find solutions to ease concerns around housing affordability.

The average home price in April was just under $696,000, a 41.9 per cent year-over-year increase, based on data from the Canadian Real Estate Association. The association noted the national average would be $144,000 less if the greater Vancouver and Toronto areas were excluded from calculations.

The government proposed billions in this year’s budget to boost the supply of affordable housing, seeing it as a way to bring down overall prices. The government is also promising a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign buyers, a measure whose efficacy has been questioned by experts.

Just days ago, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the government would tighten the mortgage stress test for insured mortgages, matching a similar move by a federal banking regulator. The new rules came into effect Tuesday.

The Opposition Conservatives have been critical of the government’s response to rising prices, including on Tuesday during the daily question period in the House of Commons.

Conservative MP James Cumming said inflation in the sector was particularly pronounced, especially as prices on lumber rise and add to building costs. He suggested the government needed to take “decisive action versus hollow announcements” to deal with high housing costs.

During his talk with municipal leaders, Trudeau pointed to the government’s decade-long housing strategy as part of federal actions.

When it was unveiled in 2017, the Liberals promised it would help build 160,000 new housing units, repair 300,000 more and provide the same number of households with subsidies.

The first triennial report on the strategy noted funding has flowed or been committed to build 63,600 units, repair 126,000 more, and subsidize housing costs for 36,000 households by the end of 2020.

The report also noted how many first-time homebuyers received mortgage aid through one part of the strategy that Trudeau touted Tuesday as helping make homebuying more affordable.

The $1.25-billion, three-year program sees the government cover between five to 10 per cent of mortgage costs for first-time buyers by taking an equity stake in their home. By the end of 2020, the program had provided $197 million to 10,600 buyers.

The government has since raised the value limit for mortgages for buyers in Toronto and Vancouver, but still requires recipients to eventually pay the money back.

—Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Bank of Canada warns of rising risks from household debt, and a hot housing market

RELATED: Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

Federal PoliticsJustin Trudeau

Just Posted

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of May 31

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

People were lined up around the fields at a drop-in vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27, 2021), which is one of the high-transmission neighbourhoods that are being given vaccine priority. This clinic was one of at least three to open in the city on Tuesday. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s weekly cases continue to drop, push for 80% vaccination rate citywide

BCCDC reports 263 cases for Surrey the week of May 30 to June 5

Friends of Bear Creek Park held a ‘yellow-ribbon event’ on Saturday (June 12, 2021), with protesters at 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard and 84th Avenue and 140th Street. People were asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard “to celebrate and to show support for our trees in Bear Creek Park.” (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Protesters hold ‘yellow-ribbon’ event at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

People asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard to ‘show support for our trees’

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read