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Report points to a mismatch between immigration targets and housing supply


A paper released by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute says Canada is the worst among G-7 nations when it comes to the gap between home prices and incomes. The paper says a big part of the problem is the lack of coordination between the three levels of government in matching housing supply and population growth. The federal government sets annual immigration targets (currently at 465,000 per year rising to 500,000 in 2025) with no corresponding attempt to determine if there is adequate housing for the newcomers. Population is growing at more than double the rate of housing completions, which puts upward pressure on housing prices.

Authors Josef Filipowicz  and Steve LaFleur write, “In a November 2022 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford cited the need to reconcile increased immigration targets with homebuilding capacity  British Columbia Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon was more prescriptive, calling on the federal government in January 2023 to “actually tie immigration numbers to affordable housing targets and as well as new housing starts”. Though not reflected in the wording of the most recent Immigration Levels Plan, these sentiments suggest an emerging awareness of the important link between immigration policy and housing supply systems.

The authors describe the housing crisis as worsening and say it will eventually thwart the immigration on which Canada relies. They point to a US study that shows worsening housing affordability there has eroded incomes by 36 percent between 1964 and 2009.

The authors, like the Ford government, point a finger at municipal governments for having planning policies that do not necessarily support the kind of intensification needed to keep pace with population growth. In the case of Ontario, however, Bill 23 and changes to the mandate of the Ontario Land Tribunal, appear to have the affect of marginalizing local planning.

The full paper can be accessed here.

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