The current administration, led by the Liberal party, is embracing measures they once promised to address spiralling austerity, especially with regards to the rising cost of groceries and housing, concerns that are paramount to Canadians.
“Canada’s promise is focused on allowing each succeeding generation to soar higher than the preceding one,” voiced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he addressed reporters following a three-day caucus retreat in London, Ontario. In the background stood the Party’s 158 MPs, who reciprocated the sentiment with applause. Trudeau added that it was the administration’s responsibility to uphold this promise.
The caucus had dedicated the retreat to an open dialogue, revolving around their party’s dwindling approval ratings, the lowest since they took office eight years ago. Polls indicated that Canadian citizens believed the Conservatives capable of handling their chief worries—the high cost of living and housing. With the NDP vocally criticising corporations over the soaring cost of food, the Liberals are now poised to confront both issues.
Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced his intentions to communicate with Canada’s top five grocery corporations, expecting them to impart a plan by Thanksgiving that would stabilize prices. This proposal might be enforced through tax measures, if necessary.
The Liberal party also declared that their administration would strive to enhance competition across Canada’s economy. They aim to empower the Competition Bureau to penalise corporations that unwillingly inhibit consumer choices, particularly large grocery chains that block potential competitors from establishing nearby stores.
However, the main focus of Thursday’s measures spotlighted housing issues. The federal government has resolved to exclude GST from new rental apartment constructions. This proposal, which Trudeau hoped other provinces would also adopt, originally surfaced in the 2015 elections, which resulted in the Liberals assuming power.
According to Trudeau, this policy had been consciously abandoned by the Liberals because, at the time, it seemed less responsive to pressing needs. Trudeau believes that this measure now presents a viable solution to the housing and affordability crisis, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy will potentially lower the cost of labour and materials for home builders.
The Liberals concur with Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative Leader, that municipality’s restrictive zoning policies are preventing the construction of new homes. Housing Minister Sean Fraser addressed a letter to Calgary’s Mayor, pleading for an easier process for homeowners to rent their basements.
“Addressing Calgary’s housing crisis is impossible if construction of necessary homes is illegal,” Fraser expressed in the letter.
The letter highlighted the requirement of cities to promote building apartments close to public transport to receive federal funding from the housing accelerator fund. Trudeau acknowledged the importance of collaboration and patience in resolving the housing issue and stated that it is an issue of concern to all Canadians.
Opposition parties accused the Liberals of acting too late, and Conservative leader Poilievre pledged similar plans to incentivize and penalize municipalities based on their housing policies. The NDP contended that the Liberals had been unresponsive to their earlier proposal to remove GST from new, affordable rental buildings.
Later in the year, the Liberals hope to execute further measures to improve affordability. One of these includes Industry Minister Champagne considering means to coerce lower prices out of global brands, drawing inspiration from French supermarket chain Carrefour’s approach to reducing cost inflation.