The federal government’s housing strategy is a long-awaited step forward to build more homes, but significantly more investment is needed to address critical infrastructure needs and the housing crisis, says Canada’s construction industry.

The federal government’s plan announced in this budget, as well as actions taken through the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, promises at least 1.2 million more homes for Canadians, on top of what the industry was planning to build. Yet, with estimates by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities showing that each new housing unit requires $107,000 in public infrastructure investment, an additional $128 billion is needed to build, support and connect these homes to essential housing-enabling infrastructure. This is a major shortfall in the investment needed. Moreover, the focus on measures to ease lending for homebuying and rezoning may only serve to exacerbate demand in the long-term with no real long-term vision on how to increase supply. 

“Budget 2024 sets a bold objective to help Canadians buy homes but misses the mark on delivering sufficient investment and a plan to ensure a steady flow of funds to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges,” said Mary Van Buren, president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA). “While we acknowledge some initiatives, such as funding for creating affordable apartments, training and recruiting more workers, and upgrading water and wastewater systems, the conditions attached and lack of strategic vision are concerning.”

With growing demands to not only build more homes but also the inevitable requirement for the necessary housing-enabling infrastructure to connect these homes to the services they need, CCA says the urgency to collaborate with provinces, municipalities and the industry is more pressing than ever.

“We need investments in infrastructure that are made based on the real needs of Canadians – projects that are shovel-worthy rather than just shovel-ready,” said Van Buren. “This visionary and consultative approach is what Canadians deserve.”

Canada’s construction industry underscores the urgent need for the federal government to implement policies and incentives that support not only housing construction and related essential infrastructure, including trade-enabling infrastructure, but also investment and help bypass construction’s boom and bust cycle. This includes programs to build the workforce needed and construction projects that share risk so that innovation and investment is encouraged, not hampered.

CCA calls for a shift in federal strategy when it comes to infrastructure investment and housing affordability – one that aligns all orders of government and equips the construction industry with a supportive policy environment.

Canada’s construction industry stands ready to collaborate with all levels of government and stakeholders to address these critical challenges and build a better future for all Canadians.