Housing is the bedrock of the livable communities we’re striving to build. This election, municipalities are looking for strong commitments from all parties to ensure all Canadians can find decent housing they can afford.

Local governments are on the front lines of the affordability crisis and the growing disconnect between rents, home prices and incomes. We see students, seniors, families and workers struggling to find an affordable place to live. We’re making the most of limited tools to build solutions, but lasting progress will require strong and continuing federal leadership.

Growing the supply of social and affordable housing for low-income Canadians is crucial. That means maintaining the priorities and funding levels of the National Housing Strategy FCM helped shape—while addressing key gaps for Indigenous people and for vulnerable Canadians who need supportive housing.

But it’s not only low-income Canadians who need housing assistance. Everyone is feeling the pressure as the costs of owning or renting a home continue to climb. We’re proposing concrete steps forward, but municipalities also need a seat at the table. That’s why we’re calling for a new intergovernmental forum—where orders of government can join forces to tackle the multi-dimensional housing affordability crisis.

We’re calling on all parties to tackle the housing affordability crisis in Canada.

This means boosting access to social and affordable housing for low-income Canadians. It also means maintaining the funding levels and priorities of the National Housing Strategy, while addressing key gaps. Read our press release for more details.

Don Iveson

"Mental illness, trauma and substance use are driving too many people into despair and homelessness. With more permanent supportive housing, we can ensure more people get the help they so urgently need—with fewer costly police interventions and emergency room visits."—Mayor Don Iveson, City of Edmonton

Quick facts
40%
renters spending 30% or more of income on rent
80%
households with incomes under $20,000 paying 50%+ of income on rent
64%
say housing affordability should be an important priority for governments
Madeleine Redfern

"Canada’s housing affordability crisis is being felt in communities of all sizes, in every region of our country. The North is no exception. We need all orders of government to work together to keep growing the supply of social and affordable housing for low-income Canadians."
Mayor Madeleine Redfern, City of Iqaluit

 
Mayor Frank Scarpitti

"Municipalities can’t tackle the housing crisis on their own—all orders of government have a role to play. Ongoing federal leadership and investment to address homelessness and build needed affordable and social housing is the key to creating inclusive, prosperous cities."
Mayor Frank Scarpitti, City of Markham

 
Doug McCallum

"In Surrey, like many other urban centres, Indigenous families are struggling to access housing they can afford. New measures are needed to develop more culturally-appropriate social and affordable housing for Indigenous households living in our cities."
Mayor Doug McCallum, City of Surrey

 
Lisa Helps

"With a 1.2% vacancy rate and one of the highest benchmark prices for home sales in Canada, rental housing and home ownership are out of reach for many Greater Victoria residents. Continuing the National Housing Strategy, expanding it to address key gaps, and getting housing money into local communities quickly are necessary steps towards an inclusive, affordable and prosperous future for our communities."
Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria

 
Adam Lordon

"Our community is aging, and it is important our residents are able to safely and affordably stay in the neighbourhoods they call home. Federal support for residents to adapt their homes is key in smaller communities like ours while we also work to address the shortage in 'downsizing' options"
Mayor Adam Lordon, City of Miramichi

 
Kennedy Stewart

"Vancouver is in a housing crisis. Residents are moving far from job centres for housing that meets their needs, resulting in a costly commute. Expanding federal data to capture this dynamic would help us understand the pressures facing families and how we can help"
Mayor Kennedy Stewart, City of Vancouver

 
Charlie Clark

"As with many other communities, more affordable housing is needed for low-income families in the City of Saskatoon. Surplus federal lands should be provided for affordable housing construction. We need all the tools we can get."
Mayor Charlie Clark, City of Saskatoon

 
Bill Karsten

"Canadians are feeling the strain of rising home prices and rent levels. But the solutions to housing affordability pressures are complex. That’s why FCM is proposing all orders of government formally come together with a mandate to collaboratively tackle the housing crisis."
Bill Karsten, FCM President

Affordable housing case studies
These affordable housing projects would benefit from long-term, predictable funding.
Downtown Edmonton
Supportive housing needed for people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton

As part of its housing strategy, the City of Edmonton is committing a historic $132.7 million to develop 2,500 units of affordable housing over the next four years. The city is seeking funding from other orders of government to support the construction of the affordable housing units. Within those 2,500 units, Edmonton City Council identified a need for 900 units of new permanent supportive housing over the next six years to provide appropriate, safe housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. This would meet the needs of diverse populations who require housing with wrap-around services. Lack of available units has been one of the largest factors slowing down the city’s progress towards ending homelessness.

Affordable rental apartment building in Surrey, BC.
Surrey signals need for Indigenous-specific housing

Indigenous households are struggling to access housing they can afford. The City of Surrey has the largest urban Indigenous population in British Columbia. There are only 155 units of affordable/social housing dedicated to Indigenous families at three sites in Surrey. One of these sites is being redeveloped to add an additional 143 units; this represents the only new affordable/social housing dedicated to Indigenous families in Surrey in decades.  38 percent of Indigenous children live in poverty in Surrey. Affordable and social housing for low-income families is a critical piece in addressing Indigenous child poverty.

Woman and child holding hands walking in downtown Vancouver
Vancouver needs better data on housing affordability

Accurate and frequent data is critical for cities like Vancouver to measure the impact of local interventions, like Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax and Short Term Rental regulations. However, the city has struggled to assess and report to council on these initiatives because of infrequent vacancy data. FCM’s proposed Affordability Indicator would report on combined household housing and transportation costs, leading to even better policy interventions. Data enhancements like this would help Vancouver gain the information needed for evidence-based decision-making to make housing more affordable for all.

Construction in downtown Toronto
Toronto highlights need to repair and preserve rental housing

Toronto has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country at 1.1 per cent—the city can’t afford to lose any rental housing. The preservation and safety of rental housing is a major concern for the city, with a number of large buildings having experienced system failures and fires, displacing hundreds of tenants. Repairing what Toronto has while ensuring that rents don’t raise in the process is essential. FCM’s proposed Market Rental Housing Preservation Program will provide federal incentives for landlords who repair and retrofit aging, lower-rent properties. This will reduce demolition and “renovictions”, as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Miramichi River
Miramichi stresses need for seniors’ housing

Smaller cities like Miramichi, New Brunswick highlight how the housing crisis affects seniors. Miramichi is home to a large population of low-income seniors: 22.9% of the over-65 population lives in poverty, compared with 19% in New Brunswick and 16% in all of Canada. The community has a shortage of multi-unit dwellings and nursing home beds, making it even more challenging to help this aging demographic.  

The Housing Adaptation for Seniors Program that FCM is proposing would help communities like Miramichi by providing new sources of funding for seniors to age in place. This would give the city time to develop the necessary multi-unit housing to bridge the gap. FCM proposes the new program have three streams owners/renters/private landlords; non-profit landlords and rural communities. All streams would provide funding for home adaptations—everything from grab-bars to ramps to lifts—to help seniors safely and affordably stay in their homes.

© 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities