Investing in communities and helping Canadians buy their first homes
It’s great to be here today at the national conference of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.
Quite frankly, I’m really happy to be back in Niagara. Happy to be welcomed by one of our great local regional MPs Chris Bittle. Thank you, Chris, for being here. There you are. Thanks for your welcome.
But I know we’ve got a lot of people from a whole bunch of different professions here today and that makes a lot of sense, because you know this better than anyone, that building homes is all about teamwork. Just think about Canadians’ daily routine. You get home and you turn on the light that was wired for you by an electrician. You wash your hands in a sink installed by a plumber and eat dinner at the counter built by a contractor. All the while, the work of a roofer keeps you warm and dry. By the time you’ve gone to sleep you’ve relied on just about everyone in this room. Canadians count on you to build the places we call home; places to set down roots, raise a family and celebrate anniversaries. That’s work to be proud of. So, thank you for a job well done.
Of course, this industry doesn’t just build other people’s homes. These jobs are how folks create a good life for their own families too, like, Enzo Litzi from Excel Industries in Kamloops. Enzo came to Canada in the fifties and through years of hard work, he built a thriving business that’s been an industry leader for more than five decades. Enzo’s story is an example of why these jobs matter so much. In Budget 2019 we invested so that more young people consider the skilled trades, careers that are in high demand across the country. But we also have to make sure that everyone benefits from those opportunities. So, our government is working with you to support women who are breaking down barriers and building successful careers. So, look no further than our Women in Construction Fund.
My friends when people in this room get together, our entire society benefits. After all, your work goes well beyond the four walls of a house. Constructing homes means building communities, and communities need transit systems so that people can get to work. They need recreation centres so that children can take swimming lessons. We understand this and that’s why we have developed an unprecedented $180-billion infrastructure plan, and launched additional funds earmarked for municipalities. Together, we are making significant progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.
We have to put home ownership back in people’s reach, because far too many families are worried that they won’t be able to buy their own place. It’s a real problem, but we can do something about it. Sustainable solutions start from the ground up. We recognize that people are feeling anxious in communities right across the country, worried with the pace of change, with the challenges of globalization. With the innovative new technologies coming down the road at them in their workplace and elsewhere, they’re worried about their jobs being able to carry them through to retirement. They’re worried about what their kids are going to be able to do and what their jobs are going to be.
This is a time of anxiety. It’s also a time of cynicism and skepticism where people wonder whether anyone can actually understand what they’re going through and give them a helping hand; whether our institutions are continuing to serve ordinary Canadians; whether governments actually have any levers to make people’s lives better. And of course, this is an election year. So, there’s going to be a lot of people pointing out all sorts of different perspectives on whether we can help, whether we should help, proposing easy solutions, proposing complex solutions. But as we approach this upcoming election where we make decisions about where we’re going, I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do as a government to help Canadians, to give them confidence in the path forward, and support them in their dreams of buying a home.
We cut taxes for the middle class and put more money in the pockets of families with the Canada Child Benefit. We’re building a strong economy where folks can count on well-paying middle-class jobs and where young people aren’t crushed by student debt. And it’s clear that our plan is working. Unemployment is at a 40-year low; 825,000 Canadians, including 300,000 children have been lifted out of poverty, and Canada continues to be one of the leaders in economic growth for the G7.
But even if you’ve got a good job and you’re putting money aside every month, sky high housing prices can mean that’s not always enough. We have to make homes more affordable. So, in Budget 2019 we modernized the homebuyers plan and increased the amount that people can withdraw from their RRSP. We also created the first-time homebuyer incentive to make buying and owning a home more affordable for the middle class. In fact, both of these measures were responding to two of the top things that the Canadian Home Builders’ Association has been calling for.
This leads me to the other measure that we must take to help families make their dream of buying a house come true—increased supply. We need more housing; it’s as simple as that. And to help increase supply, we must make sure that the first-time home buyer incentive is more generous for those buying new constructions. In the 2019 budget, we added another tool to our toolkit, by launching the Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability. It’s time to think big.
With Canada’s very first national housing strategy, we are not just investing in new properties, we are also focussing on energy efficiency. I know that this industry is already a leader in this area thanks to the Net Zero Energy Housing initiative.
When people move into their first home, it’s a big achievement. And no matter of you’re the electrician, the roofer or any other member of this team, you helped make that possible. My friends, as a government we’re in your corner and together we’ll keep building a better Canada for everyone to call home.
So, thank you for all that you do.