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Betting big on housing

​Houses are seen under construction in a neighbourhood of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Houses are seen under construction in a neighbourhood of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

REUTERS/Lars Hagberg

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is going all-in on housing. The government has been rolling out announcements ahead of the official budget drop on April 16, a departure from the tradition of politicos trying to keep a tight lid on plans.

This week, as the country grapples with a housing affordability crisis, the government announced CA$6 billion in funding for home building and municipal infrastructure. But a few provinces, including Alberta and Ontario, pushed back, complaining about the strings attached to some of the cash, which would require provincial governments to permit builders to put up fourplexes without needing special approval.

Alberta is complaining the feds want to “nationalize” housing, which is a provincial constitutional responsibility, but a policy area in which the national government has been involved for decades.

On Thursday, Trudeau announced another $1.5 billion to protect and extend affordable rental stock, which is desperately needed in a country, where the average one-bedroom apartment goes for nearly $2,200 a month.

Stateside, the General Accounting Office said last year that the country was facing a shortage of affordable housing that’s been a growing supply since the early 2000s – and a broader supply shortage that isn’t helping matters.The average rent in the US is now just under $2,100 a month. But Congressional fights over funding have led to limited cash for making affordable housing more prevalent.


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