Green Caucus calls for emergency debate on affordable housing crisis

NANAIMO, B.C. - Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) called for an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Canada’s affordable housing crisis during routine proceedings on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Manly’s request comes just weeks after a wave of mass evictions in Ontario. Housing advocates believe it is a sign of things to come for the rest of Canada. 

“More and more people are on the edge of homelessness,” said Manly. “People from every part of Canada are struggling to cover their basic living costs during the pandemic. Many of them have drained their savings or fallen into debt. When you add skyrocketing housing prices and increasingly unaffordable rents on top of that, it’s a looming disaster.” 

Manly introduced a private members motion last week to declare housing unaffordability a national crisis and to clamp down on activities distorting Canada’s housing market. 

“In Vancouver and Toronto we have seen the consequences of allowing money laundering and predatory investment in the housing market to go unchecked. It means fewer opportunities for locals, a worsening homelessness crisis and deepening inequality,” said Manly. “Now the crisis has spread to communities from coast to coast to coast, including the communities I represent in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and it shows no signs of stopping.” 

Member of Parliament for Fredericton, Jenica Atwin, is seeing similar trends in New Brunswick. "The population of individuals experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Fredericton has grown this year due to the overlapping challenges facing Canadians: financial insecurity and job loss through the pandemic, and rapid changes in the housing and construction markets driven by interprovincial migration to smaller, safer cities. There are very few tenant protections in New Brunswick, meaning many of my constituents are even more vulnerable to predatory behaviours in the housing market,” said Atwin. “Access to adequate housing is a human right and we need federal leadership to look out for those most in need." 

In addition to the declaration of the crisis, Manly’s private member’s motion calls on the government to update the definition of affordable housing, remove tax exemptions for real estate investment trusts (REITs), do more to crack down on foreign ownership of real estate and money laundering, protect existing affordable housing units, and invest in non-profit and co-operative housing. These calls to action are echoed by a Vancouver City Council motion passed last week that expresses concern about the impacts of REITs and other big investors on housing affordability and asks the federal government to do more to protect existing rental housing.

“The goal of Canadian housing policy should be to regulate activity that hurts housing affordability, and provide safe homes for our most vulnerable citizens,” Manly continued. “Insufficient market regulation, coupled with the financial hardship caused by the pandemic, is posed to make Canada’s affordable housing and homelessness crises exponentially worse. This is why I’ve called for an emergency debate.” 

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Laurie MacMillan 

Communications Coordinator, MP Paul Manly