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Ottawa freezes merger notification threshold, funds housing innovation projects

Ottawa has taken a significant step in its economic strategy by freezing the merger notification threshold, a move that aims to maintain regulatory oversight amid a rapidly evolving business landscape. The decision was unveiled on Tuesday as part of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's weekly economic update, alongside other key announcements.

Under federal law, mergers surpassing a specific value trigger mandatory notification to the Competition Bureau. This process enables the bureau to assess the potential implications of such mergers on market competition. Traditionally, the notification threshold has been adjusted in tandem with the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth. However, in a departure from this norm, Ottawa has decided to halt the increase, keeping it steady at $93 million— the threshold set in 2021.

The federal government emphasizes that, had the threshold been allowed to rise in line with economic growth, it would now stand at approximately $120 million. The decision to maintain the existing threshold reflects Ottawa's commitment to balancing competition considerations in the business sphere.

In a parallel move geared towards addressing housing challenges, the Liberal government has allocated $123 million to support innovative housing projects. This funding injection is directed towards eight homebuilders recognized for their commitment to driving innovation in the housing sector. The initiative is expected to result in the construction of over 5,000 affordable homes, addressing a pressing need across the country.

The financial support for housing projects is channeled through the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund. This fund, known for its focus on fostering groundbreaking solutions, encompasses diverse housing initiatives, including rent-to-own schemes and other avant-garde projects.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser shed light on the specific projects slated to receive support, highlighting the government's emphasis on innovation in the housing sector. Among these projects are those dedicated to modular housing, a construction approach known for its efficiency and sustainability. Additionally, funding will be directed towards initiatives aimed at reducing energy costs in housing, aligning with broader sustainability goals.

The infusion of financial support into the housing sector not only addresses the immediate need for affordable homes but also underscores the government's commitment to fostering innovation in the construction and housing industries. By targeting projects that embrace modular construction and prioritize energy efficiency, Ottawa aims to contribute to sustainable and forward-thinking solutions within the housing sector.

In summary, the decision to freeze the merger notification threshold and allocate substantial funds to innovative housing projects marks a significant development in Ottawa's economic strategy. By maintaining regulatory oversight in mergers and fostering innovation in housing, the federal government seeks to strike a balance between economic growth and responsible governance. These measures reflect a commitment to adaptability and progress in the face of evolving economic challenges.