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Feds allocate billions to combat housing crisis, anticipated upcoming worker shortage

Federal minister Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton on Friday April 12, 2024 to announce federal housing supports and funding. (Evan Klippenstein/CTV News Edmonton) Federal minister Randy Boissonnault in Edmonton on Friday April 12, 2024 to announce federal housing supports and funding. (Evan Klippenstein/CTV News Edmonton)
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The federal government announced its strategy to combat the "significant housing challenges" currently facing Canadians, including putting funding towards "the urgent issue of encampments."

The federal minister of employment, workforce development and official languages, Randy Boissonnault, was in Edmonton Tuesday promoting the funding.

"Housing should provide stability and security and serve as the foundation for overall well being," Boissonnault said. "Instead, we see that housing options are limited, rents are high and home prices feel out of reach, and making sure that everybody has a place to live, it's the right thing to do."

Part of the strategy is increasing funding to the Housing Accelerator Fund, which helps cities increase the number of homes built every year.

"In Edmonton alone, we had a deal, $175 million. That deal alone, just in Edmonton, is going to create 22,000 new homes over the next 10 years, and we're adding $400 million to that $4 billion across the country," Boissonnault said.

"It's not just about building more homes, it's about building the infrastructure that you need to get those homes built."

Additional renter protections and expanding the housing design catalogue were also announced. The catalogue contains standardized, pre-approved housing designs aimed at speeding up construction.

A temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for apartments and increase from four per cent to 10 per cent was also announced to incentivize builders.

"We are launching a historic public lands for homes plan to make more land available for housing," Boissonnault said. "We're going to do this by identifying and building on public lands that are underused, such as empty office buildings or parking lots."

For first-time home buyers, the amortization limit for insured mortgage is being extended, added Boissonnault. The mortgage charter will also be amended so companies will be able to give renters the option of including their rental payment history in their credit scores.

"We're also making sure on our Canadian Renters Bill of Rights we're going to develop and roll out, in partnership with provinces and territories, that renters can see very clearly the history of apartment pricing so that they can bargain fairly," Boissonnault said.

"This is going to allow us also to crack down on rent evictions and create a nationwide standard lease agreement."

An additional $1 billion for the Affordable Housing Fund through the 2024 federal budget was also announced.

"To address the urgent issues of encampments and unsheltered homelessness, we're going to invest $250 million through Budget 2024 to support municipalities and our fellow Edmontonians and Canadians right away," said Boissonnault. "We intend that this fund gets matched by provinces and territories, so it'll be half a billion dollars.

"We're going to have to be innovative, we're going to have to be creative."

Around 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire in the next five years, according to Boissonnault. Around 200,000 of those workers are from the homebuilding industry.

"We're going to provide $90 million for the apprenticeship service to help create placements with small and medium sized enterprises for apprentices," Boissonnault said.

"I'm also going to have a $10 million fund for the skilled trades awareness and readiness program to encourage young Canadians, including high school students, to start a career in the skilled trades."

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