Opposition leader hits out at government as Trudeau defends record
Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre has pledged to connect Canada’s immigration levels to the number of homes being built if he becomes prime minister, hitting out at the federal government’s handling of both issues.
Poilievre said at a news conference in Winnipeg on Friday that a Conservative-led government would “make a link between the number of homes built and the number of people we invite as new Canadians,” and attacked current housing minister Sean Fraser for his handling of the immigration file when he held that portfolio.
The leader of the opposition said his party wanted to “get back to an approach of immigration that invites a number of people that we can house, employ, and care for in our healthcare system” and accused Fraser of having overseen rising numbers of new immigrants without first making sure Canada could house them.
Poilievre’s Conservatives have consistently topped recent surveys on Canadians’ federal voting intentions for the next election. In an Abacus poll conducted between January 4-9, the Tories were the favoured party among 41% of respondents, followed by the Liberals on 24% and New Democratic Party (NDP) on 18%.
The pace of homebuilding has remained sluggish in Canada despite surging immigration in recent years, with 2022 – the most recent year with full data – seeing 219,942 new homes completed. In September, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reiterated its stance that an additional 3.5 million housing units are needed to restore full housing affordability by 2030.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that there was no “magic solution” to Canada’s current housing shortage, highlighting government programs to incentivize speedy development approvals by cities and noting a shortage of labour in key construction positions.
“Construction workers and availability of labour is a challenge we’re facing, which is why we continue to have ambitious immigration targets,” the prime minister said in Guelph.
The federal government has stayed the course on its target of 485,000 permanent residents for this year, with permanent resident levels to hit 500,000 and stabilize at that level beyond 2025.