Pre-Budget Advocacy Update
23 Mar 2023
Jacob Gorenkoff, Director, Policy & Government Relations
CHRA members work tirelessly every day to ensure a future where everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home. Our team has been hard at work advocating for policies and programs that will support your work to make it into the 2023 federal budget.
Over the last few months, we have taken dozens of meetings with the Prime Minister’s Office, other Ministers’ offices, Parliamentarians, CMHC, and multiple federal departments.
We’ve built relationships with Members of Parliament and Senators to champion affordable housing at Parliamentary committees, and on the House and Senate floor.
We submitted a pre-budget brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, and sent letters to ministers on October 27, January 30, and March 14 to outline the needs of the community housing sector.
We also raised awareness of pressing issues and changes needed with the National Housing Strategy in an article in Policy Options on March 9th.
Curious what we’ve been advocating for? Here’s the Cliffs notes:
1. Equip affordable housing providers with the means to keep creating housing through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF).
Over the last year, rising interest rates, as well as construction and labour costs have made the cost of creating housing increase significantly. At the same time, federal funding to support the creation of affordable housing through NHCF has decreased dramatically.
In Fall 2022, NHCF’s cap on grant dollars dropped from up to 40% of total project costs to $25,000 per unit when paired with loans. This change has resulted in many affordable housing projects having multi-million-dollar funding gaps. Making NHCF usable to create affordable housing in the current economic environment requires a significant injection of grant dollars.
2. Implement UNDRIP by funding an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy to be delivered via the National Indigenous Collaborative Housing Inc. (NICHI).
The most glaring omission in the National Housing Strategy and subsequent policy announcements has been the absence of a dedicated urban, rural, and northern (URN) Indigenous housing strategy.
The CHRA Indigenous Caucus was a key player in the foundation of the National Indigenous Collaborative Housing Inc. (NICHI). NICHI provides a national organizational structure to coordinate human, financial and other resources needed to deliver housing for URN Indigenous people. Through NICHI, the federal government has an ideal partner to work with to co-develop, fund, and co-deliver Canada’s first URN Indigenous Housing Strategy.
3. Preserve the existing supply of affordable housing with a dedicated community housing rental property acquisition program.
The gap between housing supply and demand has grown, and it is particularly acute for low- and middle-income renters. Economists and affordable housing experts have long called for a national property acquisition program to preserve Canada’s supply of affordable rental stock. This remains a significant gap in federal housing policy; no National Housing Strategy programs allow property acquisition as an eligible activity.
On Friday, March 17th, the federal government launched the Housing Accelerator Fund with non-profit acquisition of existing rental housing properties as an eligible activity. This is an important first step. As a second step, the federal government must work with the affordable housing sector to create a co-delivered national property acquisition and rental preservation program.
4. Begin a review and revitalization of the National Housing Strategy.
Canada’s economic picture has changed drastically since the creation of the National Housing Strategy in 2017. Our housing policies and programs need to adapt to suit the shifted economic context. In fact, they can be made more efficient and effective than ever.
By integrating practitioner expertise at the outset of program design, new and renewed NHS program can be more adaptable, and can make impact and meet needs more quickly. Program design that is more strongly based on practical experience and community know-how can bring us closer to NHS goals and affordable housing for all.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland will be tabling the 2023 federal budget on Tuesday, March 28th around 4:00 p.m. EST. Stay tuned for more information on the housing measures that are included.
Want to read more about CHRA’s recommendations to the federal government? Check out our advocacy page!