Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Here’s three things the Canadian government is going to do to improve affordability this fall


On Tuesday, November 21st, the Liberal government released their 2023 Fall Economic Statement (FES), and with it they have made some assurances surrounding affordability in Canada. 

The FES is lengthy and includes a lot of promises and strategies the Liberals will try to deliver on, affordability being at the centre of them. 

Three things they say they will do to make life a bit easier on Canadians are attempting to bring down the cost of groceries, improving access to mental health resources and building more homes at a faster pace. 

Getting groceries cheaper

This has been on the government’s to-do list all year, but has not made much headway. Despite food prices still being on the rise, the cost of groceries has begun to drop off slightly since this time last year. 

In order to push these prices back down to all Canadians’ benefit, the Liberals say they will try to enhance competition in the grocery sector, secure commitments to stabilize prices from Canada’s five largest grocery chains and lastly, they say they will establish a “Grocery Task Force.”

The role of this task force will be to supervise these big grocers in their promises of price stabilization as well as monitoring practices such as “shrinkflation.” 

Shrinkflation is the term used to describe when a product is sold in a smaller size for the same price as the original size. 

If necessary, the Liberals also state in their FES that they will consider taxing grocery chains more if they do not comply with stabilization. 

Improving access to mental health services

The Liberals have proposed that across Canada, they want to remove GST and/or HST from all psychotherapy and counselling services. 

They say that because of high costs and the sometimes low courage from personal insurance plans, people sometimes refrain from seeking mental health supports.

To try to make these services a bit more accessible, they propose to remove the tax associated with these services. 

Building more homes and faster

The biggest, top-of-mind issue for most Canadians right now is housing. 

In order to increase the amount of housing, the Liberals are saying they want to provide funding to provinces and municipalities to cut red tape that’s been holding them back from building more homes at an accelerated pace. 

In order to achieve this, they plan on:

  • Accelerating how communities build housing – The government is helping municipalities break down local zoning barriers with their $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund which is expected to yield 100,000 homes. 
  • Removing GST from new rental housing – The Liberal government aims to remove GST from the building endeavours of purpose-built rental housing, while protecting renters from being ‘renovicted.’
  • Providing more financing for apartment construction – This would allow builders to take on larger-scale projects for cheaper, ultimately creating more homes for cheaper. 
  • Building more affordable housing – The Liberals say reforms and increased funding will be coming for the Affordable Housing Fund to help people experiencing or at risk of houselessness, women and children fleeing violence, seniors, Black, Indigenous and racialized people as well as people with disabilities. 
  • Repurposing more federal land for housing – With the Canadian government managing the largest amount of real estate in the country, simply put, they are committing to allowing some of that land to be used for housing when needed. 
  • Strengthening co-op housing development program – These housing models provide affordable housing for families in a community-driven environment and the FES announces that nearly $310 million will go toward building more. 
  • Building more infrastructure for more housing to be built – The FES acknowledges that without the right infrastructure, no houses can be possible so they are putting more funding toward the Canada Infrastructure Bank to target key projects that will allow for more housing.
  • Updating Indigenous housing strategies – This monetary commitment will allow First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities to build more homes on reserve land. 
  • Establishing the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities – The current government organization, Infrastructure Canada, will become the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities going forward to acknowledge the ties between the three facets of community building. 

These are just three of the big items that the Liberal government have committed to in their 2023 FES. 

The full statement is available on the Canadian government’s website, here

Curtis Blandy

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