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Feds counting on provinces to pay up for new national housing program

By SmartCoverage Team on November 23rd, 2017

Justin Trudeau's federal government has unveiled a new $40-billion national housing program. Much of that funding is set to be supplied by Ottawa, but for the program to reach its full potential, each of the provinces will need to hop on board and do their part as well.

The program has a lifespan of 10 years and will encompass a number of different initiatives. For many of them, the government is expecting provinces to match what the feds are spending; including the $4-billion Canada Housing Benefit, which stands as one of the hallmarks of the program, and would provide rent support for 300,000 low-income households beginning in 2020.

Overall, it appeared that the announcement was met with cautious optimism from the provinces. In most cases they felt that progress was being made, but still felt that certain kinks needed to be worked out.

"There's lots more work to be done to understand it all, but I think it's a step in the right direction," said Lori Sigurdson, Alberta's Minister of Seniors and Housing.

Brent Toderian, former chief planner for the city of Vancouver and current consultant, wants to see the government's focus on housing support tie in to other aspects of city building that require monitoring such as neighbourhood density and car dependency.

"When you start to put these programs together, you start to see a city-building momentum. And that's a good thing," he explained. "I think there's a series of moves, including this housing strategy, that show the federal government understands that challenge of cities, and that's a nice change."

Despite applauding the government's initiative in supporting an industry in need, Québec was somewhat resistant to the forced participation aspect of the plan.

"We want to remain the project manager for housing on our territory," said Lise Thériault, Quebec's housing minister. "The federal government won't dictate priorities to Québec."

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