Canadian Contractor

Back to business on The Hill

The CHBA seeks future dialogue with the new Liberal cabinet


November 11, 2015
By John Bleasby

Kevin Lee, Canadian Home Builders Association CEO, has identified the key cabinet members in Justin Trudeau’s new government that need to be appraised on developments that effect housing, a $125 billion national industry that employs over 900,000 Canadians.

“Housing and home ownership are central to the lives of Canadians,” said Lee in a recent news release. “Our home builder, developer and renovator members are keen to continue the discussion on housing affordability with the new government.” Given the importance of housing to Canadians, and the key role of the residential construction sector to the economy, CHBA will continue to seek measures to address affordability, jobs, and the underground economy. Lee continued: “Creating an environment where more Canadians can afford market-based housing will enable those in the most urgent need to be housed properly.”

The Liberals campaigned on promises to increase investment in municipal infrastructure and transit, modernize and index the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan, and encourage rental housing construction, all of which can support housing affordability.

In conversation with Canadian Contractor, Lee explained in detail that liaising with top government officials including cabinet is a 12-month-a-year exercise. He did not outline any specific priorities or urgent matters at this time, preferring first to wait for the Speech for the Throne in early 2016, and to allow time for the new government “to settle into their offices.”

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The CHBA hopes that Trudeau is more than just gesturing to his heart and is in fact reaching for his wallet

The CHBA hopes that Trudeau is more than just gesturing to his heart and is in fact reaching for his wallet

Lee also explained that although the list of cabinet portfolios with a finger in the housing pie seems long, the list is no longer than under previous administrations and simply confirms the highly integrated nature of housing into the Canadian economy and lifestyle.

In his release, some of the portfolios and responsibilities that will concern the CHBA going forward include:

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour: The residential construction industry needs 129,000 new skilled workers over the next decade, therefore the policies of this portfolio are key.

Minister of Finance: From supporting more well-qualified first-time buyers with 30-year mortgages, to eliminating GST on development taxes, to tax credits for renovation, there are many policy measures this Minister can implement to support housing affordability.

Minister of National Revenue: There is a pressing need to address the underground economy in residential renovation and new home construction, and make recommendations to Finance on tax credits and other measures to support affordability.

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities: Proper infrastructure investment can offset excessive municipal development taxes, which can be unfair to new home buyers and greatly increase the price of housing.

Lee also sees overlaps and integration with other portfolios in Cabinet:
Minister of Natural Resources
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship:
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Minister of Science
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development:
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Minister of Small Business and Tourism

“Residential construction is a key economic element of every community in Canada, so we have important discussions to have with the MPs from every riding.” Lee concluded.


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