ONTARIO, Canada – Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on Thursday announced a suite of new measures to support the middle class and people working hard to join it. This includes action to build more rental housing, provide relief to small business owners, and drive down the cost of groceries.
A strong middle class means a strong Canada. At a time when global inflation has driven up the cost of necessities like groceries, and housing costs are too high for too many, people are worried about their families. The government of Canada has been working to put more money back in the pockets of middle-class Canadians and remove barriers to build more homes, faster to drive down the cost of housing – and there’s more to do.
To continue taking urgent action to drive down the cost of housing across the country, including for renters, the federal government:
- Will incentivize the construction of much-needed rental homes by introducing legislation to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the construction of new apartment buildings for renters. This is another tool to create the necessary conditions to build the types of housing we need, and that families want to live in.
- Is calling on provinces that currently apply provincial sales taxes or the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to rental housing to join us by matching our rebate for new rental housing.
- Will require local governments to end exclusionary zoning and encourage building apartments near public transit in order to have their Housing Accelerator Fund applications approved.
To support small business owners and their workers, who are at the heart of our communities and our economy, the prime minister also announced the government:
- Will make changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account program, a pandemic measure that helped small businesses stay afloat, including by extending the term loan repayment deadline by one year.
To address the escalating price of groceries for people, the prime minister announced that the government:
- Is calling for major grocery store chains to stabilize grocery prices in the near term. In recent years, large grocers have been making more money, all while the cost of groceries has risen drastically and families are struggling to put food on their tables. To address this, the leaders of the largest grocery chains in Canada have been called to an immediate meeting in Ottawa to begin discussions toward this goal. We are also looking at all tools at our disposal, and we are not ruling out the use of tax measures, in order to restore the grocery price stability that Canadians expect.
- Will take immediate steps to enhance competition across the Canadian economy, with a focus on the grocery sector, which would help drive down costs for middle-class Canadians. The government intends to introduce a first set of legislative amendments to the Competition Act to:
- Provide the Competition Bureau with powers to compel the production of information to conduct effective and complete market studies;
- Remove the efficiencies defence, which currently allows anti-competitive mergers to survive challenges if corporate efficiencies offset the harm to competition, even when Canadian consumers would pay higher prices and have fewer choices; and
- Empower the Bureau to take action against collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice, in particular situations where large grocers prevent smaller competitors from establishing operations nearby.
Since 2015, the federal government has been working hard to put more money back in the pockets of Canadian families through the Canada Child Benefit, a middle-class tax cut, and in the next few years, $10-a-day regulated child care on average right across the country. Last summer, during a period of the highest inflation in a generation, we acted fast to deliver relief to those who needed it most. As global inflation and the cost of housing continue to impact Canadians, we are continuing to take real action to make life more affordable and build an economy that works for everyone.