REALTORS® meet with MPs in Ottawa to advocate for homeownership for aspiring homeowners

Last week, REALTORS® from across the country congregated in Ottawa for the Canadian Real Estate Association’s annual Political Action Committee (PAC) conference. The PAC conference featured public policy experts, journalists, prominent politicians and political party insiders, and by far the most impactful part, face-to-face meetings with Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Hill.

REALTORS® bring expert knowledge on market conditions and consumer interests, and are well positioned to contribute to discussions around housing policy, advocate for creative solutions and policies to increase housing supply, address current housing challenges, and allow access to safe, stable and affordable housing options.

The Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board, Manitoba Real Estate Association, and Brandon Area REALTORS® representatives, met with Manitoba MPs while in Ottawa to advocate on three key recommendations which promote an affordable and accessible real estate industry.

Meetings with local Members of Parliament took place with Terry Duguid, Marty Morantz, Branden Leslie and Ted Falk with the following REALTOR®-led recommendations: 

Recommendation 1: National Housing Roundtable

Establish a permanent National Housing Roundtable to bring together housing stakeholders to help address the housing crisis through an inclusive, holistic approach that emphasizes collaboration, innovation, and policy coordination.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates 5.8 million new homes need to be built across the housing continuum to bring housing affordability into balance, but at the current rate of construction, Canada will be short 3.5 million homes by 2030. The consequences of this crisis extend beyond the individual level — they affect the overall economy and social fabric of the country. Housing not only provides safety and quality of life to individuals and families, but it also helps improve social, psychological, and cultural well-being. Housing creates and shapes communities. Addressing our housing crisis requires a multifaceted, inclusive, and collaborative approach with measures that substantially increase the supply of housing across the continuum. This involves promoting construction, planning innovation, supporting vulnerable populations, as well as encouraging responsible lending practices.

REALTORS® strongly believe the federal government needs to take a leadership role in convening a permanent National Housing Roundtable, bringing together federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal authorities along with builders, real estate professionals, Indigenous partners and civil society organizations.

Recommendation 2: Housing Supply

Leverage federal infrastructure funding with municipal, provincial, and territorial partners requiring the creation of more housing supply.

International research indicates good infrastructure is crucial to addressing the shortage of housing supply. Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, and the federal government’s recent move to align the cabinet portfolios in charge of housing and infrastructure, the government has recognized that housing supply and infrastructure are inherently linked and help to build thriving, inclusive communities.

New federal infrastructure funding, including but not limited to bilateral agreements, have conditions requiring the creation of new housing indexed to population growth. Funding commitments should include clauses that incentivize provinces, territories and municipalities to take action in the following areas:

• Revising zoning bylaws;

• Speeding up planning and approval processes;

• Converting distressed properties into housing;

• Aligning infrastructure funding with new housing commitments; and,

• Promoting construction innovation that could speed up housing development.

Recommendation 3:  Immigration and Housing

Develop a housing workforce immigration strategy to attract tradespeople from abroad, while streamlining the immigration process for qualified professionals willing to work in the construction industry.

One of the reasons the construction industry has struggled to keep up with the soaring demand for housing is a lack of labour needed to build homes. A shortage of workers in key construction trades, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons, has resulted in delayed projects, increased construction costs and slower residential housing development.

A recently commissioned research paper by the Conference Board of Canada studied how good immigration policy can mitigate labour shortages in Canada’s construction sector. Canada needs immigration programs that will expand the supply of workers with experience in the trades. Small-scale programs targeting the labour needs in residential construction can be a step towards addressing the housing crisis in Canada.

The recommendation is to develop a housing workforce immigration strategy to attract tradespeople from abroad, while streamlining the immigration process for qualified professionals willing to work in the construction industry. By focusing on increasing immigration in the construction sector, we can effectively address the housing crisis, fill labour shortages, create jobs, and pave the way for sustainable housing growth. Implementing the proposed recommendations will not only alleviate housing pressures but also foster a more robust and resilient housing market for all Canadians.

This annual event is just one-way REALTORS® advocate for the industry. REALTORS® meet with municipal and civic politicians and other leaders to discuss creative solutions and policies for homeowners and aspiring homeowners because they are frontline when it comes to helping people buy and sell real estate, and take the responsibility of building communities to heart.   

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Christine Payne is the Vice-President Strategic Initiatives with the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board and publisher of the weekly Winnipeg Regional Real Estate News.