Housing: the hot topic in Québec
With the Québec National Assembly currently examining two crucial housing bills, and the various levels of government engaged in debates and exchanges of responsibilities, the housing issue occupies a central place in Québec news. The Minister of Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, is preparing an action plan in response to this housing crisis, which will be unveiled in the coming months.
The figures speak for themselves: the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates that 830,000 housing units will need to be built by 2030 to meet Québec's demographic and immigration needs. However, in 2023, only around 40,000 housing units will be built, down from an average of 48,000 in previous years. The housing issue is therefore more urgent than ever, requiring bold and effective measures.
Eliminate QST on rental housing
One of the most talked-about proposals is the elimination of the Québec sales tax (QST) on the construction of new rental housing. The federal government, led by Justin Trudeau, has already announced that the federal sales tax (GST) will be eliminated in this context. Despite this, Québec Premier François Legault believes that this measure would be too costly for the Québec government, and prefers to explore other solutions to stimulate housing supply. Details of these alternative measures will be revealed in the November Economic Update.
Bill 31 - An Act to amend various legislative provisions as regards housing
Another point of contention is Minister Duranceau's Bill 31. One of her most controversial proposals is the removal of a tenant’s right to assign their lease before it expires. This measure has provoked strong reactions, from critics to supporters. Premier Legault has not ruled out removing this clause from the bill, but the Minister of Housing remains determined to maintain it. In addition, she intends to tackle excessive rent increases when new tenants move into a dwelling.
The Minister is also putting pressure on Québec municipalities to relax restrictive regulations that hinder the issuance of building permits. She believes that municipalities share responsibility for the housing crisis, and that the provincial government can intervene to facilitate access to housing for the most vulnerable. The current rules, deemed too rigid, are currently under review, with announcements expected in November's Economic Update.
Federal fund to accelerate housing construction
Another major factor is the federal fund to accelerate housing construction. The Union des municipalités du Québec is frustrated by the fact that this $900-million housing envelope has been blocked due to the lack of agreement between Québec and Ottawa. The Québec Minister of Housing stated that the conditions imposed by the federal government were complicating negotiations, and that the Québec government would not be subject to conditions to receive federal funding. It is imperative that both parties find common ground to free up these funds and accelerate the construction of affordable housing.
Bill 22 - An Act respecting expropriation
Finally, Bill 22, presented by Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbaut, aims to modernize the rules surrounding the expropriation of private property for public utility purposes. The proposal has met with mixed reactions, with municipalities applauding the notion of "market value" as a basis for compensation, while property owners see it as a step backwards. These changes do not appear to be favorable to future or current homeowners, and could discourage new mortgage contracts, an essential route to home ownership.
Québec's housing crisis calls for bold, concerted action by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Solutions must be found to meet the growing housing needs of the Québec population. The current debate in the National Assembly and the announcements to come in November will largely determine the future of housing in Québec.