Housing options key to strong economy, says National Forum (09/10/2014)
OTTAWA - More housing options which are affordable to Canadians are needed to help grow local economies, attract new workers and meet the needs of vulnerable Canadians, stated the members of the National Forum on Housing and the Economy at the launch of the Forum today.
The Forum consists of national business groups, not-for-profit, industry and professional associations and local governments. The Forum endorsed shared principles for achieving lasting improvements in Canada's housing system and is encouraging all orders of government to work with major stakeholders in the housing sector to implement these principles.
The housing sector represents 20% of Canada's GDP. However, record levels of household debt and high homeownership costs are keeping many Canadians out of the homeownership market, especially young people. Our rapidly aging population will also require attention to meet the housing needs of Canada's seniors. Construction of new purpose-built rental has been limited in relation to demand, reducing rental options that Canadians can afford, and restricting labour mobility. At the same time, federal operating agreements that provide $1.7 billion in annual social housing funding have begun to expire, putting a deep strain on the low-income households who live in social housing, while over 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness every year at a cost of upwards of $7 billion to the economy.
Without leadership from all orders of government and a long-term plan to address the current housing affordability challenges and future housing needs, Canada's housing sector will likely become more expensive for Canadians and less responsive to the needs of the national economy. In their shared statement of principles, Forum members agreed that a long-term plan should:
- Protect at-risk households living in social housing, and innovate in making federal investments in Canada's social housing;
- Preserve and add to Canada's rental housing stock including private, non-profit and co-operative rental housing;
- Improve opportunities for homeownership for the next generation of potential homeowners; and
- Reduce homelessness.
The Forum is looking to the up-coming federal budget to implement solutions to Canada's housing affordability challenges which are impacting households across the housing spectrum.
The NFHE was established by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in partnership with national not-for-profit, industry and professional associations and business groups as an information-sharing resource for the housing sector and policy makers so that they may better address the challenges facing Canada's housing sector.
Brad Woodside, President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Tim Richter, President and CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
Michael Atkinson, President, Canadian Construction Association
John Dickie, President, Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations
Kevin Lee, CEO, Canadian Home Builders' Association
Jody Cuifo, Executive Director Canadian Housing and Renewal Association
Dr. Chris Simpson, President, the Canadian Medical Association
Beth Crosbie, President, The Canadian Real Estate Association
Anne Davidson, President, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada
Chris White, Vice President, Federal Affairs, Insurance Bureau of Canada