Federal-level steps would decisively address housing issues – analyst

The Canadian housing sector is a study in contrasts, characterized by red-hot growth and activity in metropolitan markets plagued by the long-running problem of affordability. It is this contradictory state that nothing less than action from the highest levels of government would solve, according to an analyst.
Writing for for the National Post, Munk School of Global Affairs journalism fellow Lauren Heuser said that the inordinately high cost of properties is exacerbating homelessness in Canada’s most in-demand cities.
Heuser argued that federal authorities have been unusually hesitant in exercising more far-reaching powers available to them in decisively addressing the country’s housing issues.
“Although housing is a provincial responsibility, the federal government can spend in whatever areas it wants, provided it doesn’t restrict the provinces from implementing their own policies. Using its spending power, Ottawa could help ensure all Canadians have access to affordable housing,” Heuser wrote.
Such intervention would give any future plans by the government a much-needed boost, the analyst said, as the Liberals’ current strategy of improving the supply of rental units might not yield the best possible results considering regional differences.
“The real issue is that Canada lacks a national housing strategy to ensure basic housing benefits to all Canadians, and to minimize discrepancies between the provinces’ housing programs,” Heuser stated in her analysis piece.
“This placed-based approach has serious drawbacks,” she added. “If the authorities can’t ensure adequate supply, or if the poor don’t live where social housing is offered, they’re out of luck. The result is long waiting lists for subsidized housing, and little incentive for families to move out once they’ve gained access, as well as barriers to mobility for the very poor.”

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