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Where Canada’s housing minister sees policy going next



Canada's federal housing minister, Sean Fraser, has revealed the upcoming phases of policies aimed at enhancing the country's housing supply. In an exclusive interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Paul Bagnell, Fraser highlighted the need for an "industrial strategy" to tackle workforce challenges and address zoning rules, indicating a shift from the current emphasis on funding.


Fraser emphasized the critical role of the workforce in achieving the housing supply target. He acknowledged that even with optimal efforts from all levels of government, Canada needs to enhance the productive capacity of its workforce. The proposed industrial strategy will focus on boosting workforce capacity, incorporating innovative solutions such as factory-built homes to expedite construction processes.


During the televised interview, Fraser stated, “The next phase will involve an industrial strategy to help build out the workforce capacity, including through factory-built homes to allow us to scale dramatically the pace of construction. I know that target’s ambitious, but my view is we can make it possible if we collaborate closely with other levels of government and the private sector.”


Addressing the pressing issue of municipal zoning rules, Fraser stressed the necessity of changes to boost housing supply. He revealed that alterations to zoning regulations will be a crucial aspect of the upcoming policies. The federal government's housing accelerator fund, which is currently supporting housing projects in numerous Canadian cities, aims to incentivize municipalities to make zoning adjustments to access funding.


“We have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way that cities build homes in this country,” Fraser expressed, adding that the housing accelerator fund has encouraged major cities and soon, smaller communities, to allow increased housing density. The fund's recent agreement, unveiled on Thursday, earmarked $471 million to support the construction of 53,000 new units in Toronto.


Fraser acknowledged the extraordinary pace of change, surpassing even his high expectations. He highlighted the rapid progress in securing agreements with cities, stating, “We now have agreements signed with cities and we're not done. We expect to add more than 300,000 approvals over the next decade. This has been a major change and we're seeing it all at once.”


The minister's optimism is grounded in the belief that collaboration between different levels of government and the private sector can turn ambitious targets into reality. By putting federal resources into the mix, the government aims to reshape the landscape of home construction across the country, fostering increased density and accessibility to housing near economic hubs and existing infrastructure.


As the housing strategy unfolds, Fraser's vision is set on making substantial, transformative changes that will address not only the shortage of housing but also the overall efficiency and sustainability of the construction process in Canada.


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