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New housing measures to focus on supply, avoid 'ginning up demand': housing minister

Efforts to address the soaring housing costs in Canada are taking a turn towards bolstering the supply of homes rather than stimulating demand, according to statements from Canada's Housing Minister, Sean Fraser. Ahead of the impending release of plans by the federal government, Fraser emphasized the significance of balancing supply and demand dynamics in the housing market.

Fraser's remarks, made in a recent interview, underscored the government's cautious approach to avoid exacerbating demand pressures. With the 2024 budget looming, Fraser indicated a divergence from suggestions to focus on incentivizing home purchases, instead prioritizing initiatives to facilitate home construction.

"We believe in striking the right equilibrium by primarily concentrating on bolstering supply and introducing measures to facilitate renting or buying homes. Some of these initiatives may involve minimal public spending, while others may significantly impact the supply aspect," Fraser explained.

In outlining the government's forthcoming plan, Fraser outlined three key objectives:

1. Increasing home construction to bridge the supply-demand gap.

2. Advocating for the interests of the most vulnerable individuals in housing.

3. Simplifying the process of renting or purchasing a home across Canada.

Fraser hinted at a comprehensive suite of policies, ranging from scaling up existing initiatives to introducing novel measures, all slated for rollout in the weeks leading up to the budget announcement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed these sentiments, revealing plans to allocate an additional $15 billion to an apartment construction loan program. Moreover, Trudeau unveiled a $6 billion infrastructure fund, contingent on provinces and territories implementing specified housing policies.

James Orlando, a senior economist at TD Economics, anticipates modest additions to the 2024 budget, primarily focusing on housing supply and affordability concerns amidst stringent fiscal constraints. Notably, Orlando suggested that significant financial reserves may be earmarked for the subsequent pre-election budget.

Recent research from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce underscores the magnitude of the housing challenge, estimating a shortfall of approximately 1.5 million homes needed to restore affordability. Benjamin Tal, the Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC, contends that prevailing projections underestimate the housing demand by nearly 1.5 million units, attributing the disparity to inadequate inclusion of non-permanent residents in population forecasts.

As Canada grapples with housing affordability issues, the government's renewed emphasis on bolstering housing supply signals a shift towards addressing the root causes of the crisis. With mounting pressure to enact effective measures, the upcoming budget holds significant implications for the future trajectory of the housing market and the broader economy.



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