LONGUEUIL, Que. — The federal and provincial governments will each invest $900 million over the next four years to accelerate housing construction in Quebec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault confirmed Thursday.
Trudeau said the deal was unique in the country because a province is matching the federal funding on offer. The provincial government had said it would match $900 million from the federal government's housing accelerator fund in an economic update Tuesday.
"When we launched the housing accelerator fund, we were clear that we needed to eliminate red tape and remove barriers," Trudeau told a news conference in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil. "This new agreement with the government of Quebec will mean more ambitious plans right across the province to build more homes faster."
The two politicians said the investment will directly create 8,000 social and affordable housing units, including 500 that will be earmarked for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
They say that in the longer term, the combined $1.8-billion commitment will contribute to helping build tens of thousands of additional homes, at a time when Canada is grappling with a housing crisis that has seen many people struggling to afford a place to live.
Alexandre Boulerice, deputy leader of the NDP and MP for the Montreal riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, said the announcement shows the federal Liberal government is out of touch with people's needs.
"Building 500 units for Quebecers who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is not enough," Boulerice said in a statement. "In 2022, the Quebec government estimated that there were nearly 4,700 homeless people in Montreal alone, and across Quebec 35,000 families waiting for social housing."
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimated in a September report that the province will need more than 1.1 million additional units by 2030 in order for homes to be as affordable to average income households as it was in 2004.
Legault says the federal contribution comes without conditions and will help the province build more affordable homes more quickly. The new sum is in addition to $3.9 billion already earmarked by the province to build new housing over the next five years.
Quebec Housing Minister France-Élaine Duranceau said the province will work on regulatory reforms to reduce construction delays, including increasing urban densification and reducing red tape.
Legault cited increased immigration, higher mortgage rates and more people living alone as factors contributing to the province's housing crisis, but he said bureaucratic hurdles amplify the problem.
“This is really the big problem because we discourage potential building owners with too much bureaucracy,” Legault said.
Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier noted that cities often add zoning rules but rarely remove them. She said that in her city south of Montreal they are reviewing 1,800 zoning rules on the books.
Trudeau said the issue of regulation is a recurring one brought up in discussions by municipal leaders and developers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2023
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misnamed the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.