As never before in a federal election, the country’s chronic housing shortage became a front and centre issue for voters and the candidates that vied for their vote. At Royal LePage, we are eager to see the new Liberal government fulfil its promises to Canadians by investing in programs that address the lack of housing inventory in our country, which we know is the only way to fundamentally improve housing affordability.
The economic cost of failing to provide enough housing for our growing number of households is immense. To start, when we have an inadequate supply of homes for rent or ownership, a loss of potential tax generation occurs, and with it, the ability to fund critical government services. Business growth and overall economic productivity is stunted when prospective employees can’t find housing within commuting distance of places of employment. This is an acute and current problem as companies begin to repopulate their offices and workforce shortages loom.
Affordability is the surface issue that gets consumers’ blood boiling, and a lightning rod for politicians. Royal LePage research reveals that 57 per cent of Canadians aged 18-34 said that a candidate’s position on tackling housing affordability would influence their vote in the last election. Further, we found that 84 per cent of Canadians are worried that an increasing number of people will never own a home.
Yet affordability is simply the symptom – the result of the underlying malady. Canada’s crisis is our meager housing supply. We have far too few roofs to shelter our people.
As housing demand continues to grow from millennial household formation and the arrival of new Canadians, supply has to catch up or we risk the social challenges that will arise from hard-working Canadians not being able to reach a homeownership milestone that was more easily reached by previous generations.
A recent Scotiabank report found that Canada’s persistent under-building has resulted in a shortage of some 1.8 million homes in this country, the lowest number of housing units per capita of any G7 country. Crisis is not too strong a word.
We urge the federal government to work collaboratively with provincial and municipal leadership and the private development sector to enact public housing policies and incentives that address the regulatory barriers to closing the gap between the number of homes we are building in Canada, and the actual need.