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'A significant overreach': Canada housing plan draws provincial pushback


Jurisdictional jousting has begun over federal funding for housing projects as provincial leaders tell the Trudeau government to stay in its lane.

Over the last week, the Trudeau Liberals have announced billions in funding to kick-start home building in the country. Much of that money comes with conditions that the provinces meet certain criteria and a number of benchmarks.

“This is a significant overreach by the federal government to come in and attempt to nationalize housing,” said Jason Nixon, Alberta’s Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.

Nixon says it’s unfair for Ottawa to impose regulations on building codes in exchange for money for affordable housing.

For instance, in order to access $6 billion in new infrastructure money offered to help provinces and territories tackle the housing crisis, provinces must require municipalities to allow development of four-unit residential dwellings, commonly known as four plexes. In some cases, those building could be up to four-storeys tall without amending construction bylaws.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has spoken out strongly against four plexes recently, and on Wednesday urged all levels of government to stay within their own jurisdictions.

“I'm going to leave that up to each municipality to decide because they know better than the province and the federal government,” Ford told reporters in Vaughan, ON.

Not all premiers are as clear when it comes to the strings attached to federal funding. When asked about those conditions, Manitoba’s NDP Premier Wab Kinew pointed to his province’s own housing plans which includes rent supplements.

“If the federal government wants to join us in these positive steps, they're more than welcome to help out,” said Kinew.

The pushback from some provincial leaders didn’t seem to bother Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who reiterated Thursday that his government will work with any level of government to get more homes built.

“If the province doesn’t want to step up with ambition on building the infrastructure needed to support more housing, in general across the province, we’ll do it specifically with willing partners,” said Trudeau.

While politics does play a role in the negotiations between all three levels of government, Randall Bartlett, Senior Director of Canadian Economics with Desjardins points out it’s something we’ve seen before with infrastructure projects.

“Housing is just the most recent venue by which the Federal government has levered its fiscal firepower to get the province’s municipalities to move in a direction they would like them to,” Bartlett said in an interview with CTV News.




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