Liberals pledge billions to fight affordability crisis through updated housing plans ahead of 2024 budget 
City of Brampton

Liberals pledge billions to fight affordability crisis through updated housing plans ahead of 2024 budget 

The federal Liberals were busy last week releasing a stream of housing related announcements—including its new housing action plan—in advance of its 2024 budget, expected to be published tomorrow. Among the flurry of news were new protections for tenants; programs designed to facilitate the construction of more affordable units; and financial assistance to provinces and territories meant to kickstart housing development to combat the affordability crisis. 

The Liberal government, which has been sinking in the polls for months and faced criticism for its lack of action on the affordability crisis, has now earmarked billions of dollars in grants, loans and other assistance. 

Peel ACORN, a local tenant advocacy group, is encouraged by the shift toward tenant protections, but is holding back celebrations until the money begins to flow to the type of housing development the region desperately needs. According to a 2020 report from the Region of Peel, 80 percent of residents can not afford to purchase a home or rent in Peel. 

“We're not quite sure how that funding is going to play out. but overall, that is a positive step for tenants,” Tanya Burkhart, leader of the Peel ACORN branch, told The Pointer. “We just need to ensure that it will be used to build the housing that it's intended for.”

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest Rental Market Report, released in January, “Despite an increase in overall rental unit supply, demand outpaces supply for the second consecutive year. Canada is experiencing record-low vacancy rates (1.5%) and record-high average rent growth (8%) in 2023, creating competitive rental conditions across major markets.”

To try and alleviate this pressure on the rental market, on April 4th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $1.5 billion Canada Rental Protection Fund to protect existing affordable housing and create thousands of new affordable apartments, which he said would be a key measure in the government’s 2024 budget, set to be tabled in the House of Commons April 16th. The program will provide funding for legal aid and tenants’ rights advocacy organizations to better protect tenants against unfair rent increases, renovictions, or bad landlords.

Co-led and co-funded by the federal government and other partners, the Fund will provide $1 billion in loans, meant to help preserve rental homes and ensure they are affordable, and $470 million in contributions to non-profit organizations and other partners so they can acquire units and preserve rent prices in the long term.

The program will launch later this year, according to government officials and “will have a direct impact in making the housing market fairer for renters.”

“The reality today is there are more Canadians who need these homes than what is available,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her opening remarks on April 4th. “Right now, community housing makes up only four percent of Canada’s housing market, and that’s just not enough. And some of these homes are being lost to demolition, conversion to condos, and rent increases. More are being lost than we are able to create new homes in this sector.

“The Fund will help affordable housing providers acquire existing affordable housing units and keep rents at a stable level for the long term, to protect their affordability,” she added. “This is the fastest way to protect and increase our affordable housing stock.” 

A day prior, the federal government also announced a $15 billion top-up to the $40 billion Apartment Construction Loan Program initiative, putting the program on track to build over 131,000 new rental homes over the next decade. The additional $15 billion in the government’s 2024 budget is aimed at boosting the construction of new rental homes by providing low-cost financing to homebuilders. Since 2017, the program has committed over $18 billion in loans to support the construction of more than 48,000 new rental homes.

The Liberals also announced new reforms to the program, previously labelled the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, to increase access to the loan program. Revisions included extending loan terms and access to financing to include housing for students and seniors; allowing builders to move forward on multiple sites at once; providing additional flexibility on affordability, energy efficiency, and accessibility requirements; and launching a new frequent builder stream to fast-track the application process for successful home builders.

Despite these measures being taken, Burkhart says more still needs to be done on all levels of government to address affordability and expand housing options for residents. 

“Rental options still remain extremely tight,” she told The Pointer. “We have a lot of additional rental units, or basement apartments, and so those aren't really accessible for tenants with disabilities or seniors who require a specific type of housing.

“Housing in Peel is a very difficult market because the housing doesn't always fit the tenants needs, and so multi-generation families need units with more bedrooms, seniors need a different type of housing. So there's a lot of gaps in the housing in Peel,” she added. “There's no real legislation at the municipal level, provincial level (or) at the federal level to really ensure that the housing that's created in Peel actually meets Peel housing needs.”

Peel ACORN will be looking for more details in the legislation attached to these funding announcements that is more applicable to those in core housing need and searching for assurances that affordable units are going to be built.

“Everyone needs a safe and healthy home, whether you're renting or whether you own your own home.”

The federal government will also be opening the $55 billion Apartment Construction Loan Program to provinces and territories that jumpstart their own housing plans through its new Canada Builds effort— a similar program to the recently announced BC Builds initiative. In order to access federal financing, provinces and territories will be expected to meet the benchmarks set by BC Builds and deliver action to build even more homes. These actions include: complementing federal funds with provincial or territorial investments into housing; building on government, non-profit, community-owned, and vacant lands; streamlining the process to cut development approval timelines to no longer than 12 to 18 months; and meeting all criteria included in the Apartment Construction Loan Program, including affordability requirements.



 Average rent in Canada has grown by 21 percent, or $384, per month compared to February 2022.



The rental announcements came on the heels of a new $6 billion Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund, and an additional $400 million pledged towards the Housing Accelerator Fund, a funding incentive that both Brampton and Mississauga have been successful recipients of

“The next step will be to ensure that funding, any funding, whether it's through CMHC, or the Canada Infrastructure Bank, all of this funding needs to have covenants tied to it, or conditions tied to it, to ensure that affordable housing is built,” Burkhart explained. “It's easy for developers to take money without any conditions to build luxury or affordable housing, and so we just need to make sure that the funding that's being used to build housing is for affordable housing and for people with core housing need.”

“Peel has a very high demand for housing, and we're the fastest growing city in the country, so housing need is very severe in Peel,” Burkhart added. “Our shelters are more than 300 percent over capacity and so there's some definite gaps in Peel in terms of at the municipal level… and how the federal transfer of money will relate to Peel is kind of questioned. We don't really have answers at this point in time.”

As elected officials in Ottawa try to combat the affordability and housing crisis, at the local level, municipalities are introducing their own regulations in an effort to try and help tenants. 

In Peel, rent prices remain among some of the highest in Ontario and the rest of Canada, with’s March report revealing rent in Mississauga is the second highest in the province behind Toronto, and above the national average. According to the monthly report, the average one-bedroom apartment rent in Mississauga was $2,294, a 1.3 percent decrease month-over-month, but a 5.2 percent increase year-over-year. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $2,722 — a 4.3 percent increase from the year before. In Brampton, which also sits above the national median, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment was $2,155 — reflecting a 1.5 percent decrease month-over-month, but an alarming 15.5 percent increase from this time last year. For a two-bedroom apartment in Brampton, the average price of rent was $2,398, a 3.8 percent increase from last year. 

The alarming yearly increases in rent across Peel has alarmed elected officials, especially in Mississauga where several candidates in the upcoming by-election to determine the City’s mayor have cited affordability and offering more housing options as a top priority heading into the mayoral race.   

Recognizing the need to hold landlords accountable, in December, Mississauga City Council approved a motion to improve the minimum standards of the Mississauga Apartment Rental Compliance (MARC) program — a City-run pilot initiative that launched in July 2022 to protect tenants whose rights are routinely violated by unethical property managers and landlords with the intent to regulate 356 apartment buildings across the city.

Acknowledging that 27 percent of Mississauga residents are currently renters, the motion included increasing the evaluation passing score from 51 percent to 61 percent in the first quarter of 2024 to encourage building owners to consistently improve maintenance standards. It called on staff to enhance the MARC program’s existing website to contain interactive information, including the registration status of buildings, proactive inspection results, and any enforcement action that has been undertaken.


 According to reports from March, rent prices in Peel remained some of the highest in the province.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer Files) 


Brampton is also struggling to find ways to hold bad landlords accountable. Earlier this year the City struggled when rolling out a pilot program to register landlords renting out units in their homes. In January, the City launched the Residential Rental Licensing (RRL) pilot program — aimed at addressing illegal rental accommodations, which have become common in Brampton. The RRL program requires landlords to obtain a $300 license if they are renting a property that has four or less units within Wards 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. It applies to registered second units, unregistered residential rental units and additional residential units with the goal of maintaining the character of local neighbourhoods and ensuring property standard bylaws are upheld.

Within a month of its launch the City quietly paused the pilot with a notice on its website, citing that changes were being made. Among those it has already made, a requirement for a criminal record check and for condominium apartments or condominium townhouses to obtain a business licence has been removed, and instead, the property tax bill as proof of ownership will now be accepted as part of the application process. The program relaunched at the end of March with slightly amended criteria. 



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