Could the federal government limit immigration to address the housing crisis?

Housing minister on possibility of cutting immigration targets

Could the federal government limit immigration to address the housing crisis?

The federal government isn’t ruling out changes to its ambitious immigration targets to address the housing market’s perennial challenges, according to Housing Minister Sean Fraser.

Ottawa has been targeting the entry of 500,000 new arrivals on an annual basis by 2025.

At the same time, Fraser stressed that any such changes will have to go through the other levels of government and through the institutions that have “a duty to play part of a role in housing the people who come here.”

“When we look to the future of immigration levels planning, we want to maintain ambition and immigration, but we want to better align our immigration policies with the absorptive capacity of communities that includes housing, that includes health care, that includes infrastructure,” Fraser said in an interview with CTV.

The minister said that aside from making changes to immigration policy, resolving Canada’s housing crisis will also require adjustments to the regulations governing the pace of construction.

“It's important that when we’re looking at the answer to our housing challenges, we also focus on what we can do to increase the supply,” Fraser said. “I think it’s essential that we remember that immigration remains one of Canada’s strongest competitive advantages in the global economy.”

Resolving the housing crisis requires “all hands on deck”

Fraser said that while federal-level measures such as home-building incentives would be vital to helping ease the pressure on the market, ensuring sustainable affordability requires “all-hands-on-deck commitment” from every level of government.

This is especially because the housing construction has not kept up with Canada’s growing cities and population, with a significant contributor to deadlocks being municipal and provincial-level red tape.

Fraser said that the delayed entry of new supply has led to a decline in existing and aging stock, in turn stimulating a further deterioration of affordability.

“The federal government will continue to make strategic investments through programs like the RCFI (Rental Construction Financing Initiative) and the Housing Accelerator Fund, while also working with our provincial and municipal partners so that all Canadians have a safe place that they are proud to call home,” Fraser said recently.