Mr. Speaker, I move that the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, presented on June 12, be concurred in.
We are talking about the national housing strategy report, which was done by our human resources committee and delivered in June 2023. We should know that the national housing strategy is a program the Prime Minister announced with great fanfare in 2017, as I have said in the House before.
He and a number of his colleagues stood in front of a big building under construction and talked about how this strategy, which was going to be about $40 billion, would be a life-changing, transformational strategy. The federal government was back in the housing business, and it was going to be a really big deal. It was a 10-year plan.
It is still a 10-year plan. The numbers were ballooned to $82 billion, and at the time of the study, it was going to change the world, which was all well and good. We know the Prime Minister is particularly good at these photo ops and announcements with quite a rhetorical flourish.
We received the study in June 2023. Just before that, we had spoken with the former minister of housing. We asked the minister of housing, a couple of different times, if he would describe the housing situation in Canada as a crisis. He could not use that word. What we heard from the minister at the time was that housing was a challenge, and there were some problems and difficulties, but he could not use the word “crisis”.
I would also like to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, there is a new Minister of Housing, and there is a renewed sense that we need to do something about the housing situation in Canada. The new minister, when asked if Canada was in a housing crisis, a year after the previous minister, acknowledged that, Canada is in a housing crisis. He used the word himself.
When I asked him at the time if, in 2015, eight years ago, and 2017, when the Prime Minister announced this life-changing, transformational national housing strategy, Canada was in a housing crisis. He would not use the word “crisis” when it came to that. He said we had some challenges. There were some difficulties, but he would not describe it as a crisis at the time the Liberals launched this national housing strategy, this $82-billion, 10-year program.
We heard from the CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is the agency responsible for delivering the national housing strategy and all the programs therein. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is also responsible for insuring a lot of mortgages in this country, millions of mortgages. It does a lot of research on the housing situation in Canada. We have heard a lot from it about the fact that we are in a crisis and that Canada needs to build, in total, about 5.8 million homes by 2030 to restore some semblance of affordability in the housing market.
It is important to acknowledge at this point that the most homes that Canada has ever built in a single year was in 1976 when building a home was a little easier. Homes were not nearly as complex, but 270,000 units were built that year. The average today is about 240,000. We would need to ramp up the building of homes to about 745,000 units per year to meet that affordability target that the CMHC itself says we need to do.
What was this national housing strategy supposed to do? We know, from the reports and from listening to the CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, that this national housing strategy was to remove 530,000 Canadian families from core housing need, reduce chronic homelessness by 50%, protect 385,000 community housing units already in existence, provide 300,000 households with affordability supports, repair 300,000 existing housing units that needed repair and create 100,000 new housing units.
With the $82 billion, we are just over halfway through the program, which begs the questions of where we are at and what it has accomplished.
Even the CMHC would acknowledge that we have a long way to go, and it would acknowledge that in part because its own research has told us that the situation is worse than ever. At the time that the Prime Minister announced this strategy, we had some housing challenges. Today, it is a crisis.
We now know that, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, rents have doubled. We also know that, after eight years of the Prime Minister, house prices have doubled and mortgages have doubled. Frankly, despite the grand proclamations of the Prime Minister and the constant patting of themselves on the back for all the great work they are doing with this national housing strategy of $82 billion, it seems as though the Liberals are starting to catch on that just saying they are going to do good things with photo ops and announcements is not really solving the problem.
As it turns out, now the Liberals are announcing new things and new ideas, including things like removing the GST from purpose-built rentals. They are finally catching on, but I worry it might be too little, too late because, in the midst of all of this, in the midst of a housing crisis getting worse and worse, the government has been spending money like it is going out of style. It borrows excessively. The Liberals stand behind this whole business that they were there for Canadians during COVID, but we know that a couple of hundred billion of that borrowing had nothing to do with COVID supports, and that is having an impact on inflation.
In fact, Tiff Macklem, the governor of the Bank of Canada, has said that inflation in shelter prices is running above six per cent. Part of this, he says, is due to higher mortgage interest costs following increases in interest rates. However, it also reflects higher rents and other housing costs, and these pressures are more related to a structural shortage of housing supply. He also said it is going to be easier to get inflation down and make housing cheaper if monetary and fiscal policy are rowing in the same direction.
Therefore, we know that announcing with great fanfare an $82-billion 10-year comprehensive plan to solve the housing challenge of the time, fast forward to today, has turned into an absolute crisis in the housing market and, frankly, a crisis that is, in part, created by the inflationary pressures that the government, and its excessive spending, is putting on the market.
Now we have this report that says that, yes, it is bad. We have work to do. That is effectively the message. Even Ms. Bowers acknowledged that it is going to be very challenging to meet the targets. We know why. The Governor of the Bank of Canada has told us that the inflationary spending of the government is just making it harder. Every nickel it spends is making it harder.
The members of the government do not seem to understand that we need to get out of the way and not only incentivize the private sector, but also bring down the inflationary deficit spending and axe the carbon tax, which is making everything more expensive. We need to reduce the taxation burden. We need to reduce the taxation of deficit borrowing on the backs of Canadians so that they can afford to eat, heat their homes and maybe even have a home one day.
Nine out of 10 young people in this country have given up on the dream of ever owning home, and the responsibility for that falls squarely at the government, its inflationary spending and its reckless way of borrowing billions of dollars. The government says it is going to borrow money so Canadians do not have to, but its members do not realize that the money being borrowed by the government is being borrowed on behalf of all Canadians. It falls to all of us to pay it back. Therefore, we have a situation today where a government will borrow billions of dollars to give Canadians a few hundred dollars to help them pay for things that, because of the government's borrowing, now cost thousands more dollars.
We have a situation where our government is now so desperate that it is playing politics, so it is axing the carbon tax in some parts of the country where the Liberals' poll numbers are really bad, but not in the rest of the country, as we found out, because people there did not vote Liberal. That is the problem. People have to vote Liberal if they want to get treated better by the government and if they want the government to relieve them of the pressures of its inflationary spending.
The national housing strategy can be described as a failure. The Conservatives have written a dissenting report on this, and we need to recognize that the government is simply not getting the job done. Even though its members have great talking points and photo ops, they are making life more expensive every day for Canadians. Canadians know that, despite their promises, the Prime Minister is just not worth the cost.