New housing minister says closing door on newcomers is no solution to housing crisis

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Canada’s new housing and infrastructure minister says building more homes, not closing the door to newcomers is the solution to the country’s housing crisis.

Sean Fraser, who previously served as immigration minister, was sworn in Wednesday morning as part of a Liberal government cabinet shuffle.

“The answer is, at least in part, to continue to build more stock,” he told reporters after being sworn in. “But I would urge caution to anyone who believes the answer to our housing challenges is to close the door on newcomers.”

As part of the shakeup, the housing ministry was merged with infrastructure and communities. Fraser said the goal is to look at housing and infrastructure projects together, rather than in isolation.

“If we encourage cities and communities to build more housing where infrastructure already exists or where it’s planned to be, we’re going to be able to leverage more progress for every public dollar that’s invested,” he said.

Ahmed Hussen, who became housing minister in 2021, has faced criticism for his handling of the file as the housing crisis worsened across the country.

Tyler Meredith, former head of economic strategy and planning for the federal government, says the minister shuffle in housing recognizes the job “requires fundamentally an energy and urgency and a passion” to compete with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has put forward.

“If they lose the argument on housing, they will lose the argument on immigration, and they will then lose what is frankly, some of the some of the most effective pieces of their economic strategy,” Meredith said.

Fraser, 39, acknowledged affordability is a major challenge.

“There’s no simple solutions, but if we continue to advance measures that help build more stock, that help make sure it’s easier for people to get into the market and make sure we’re offering protections for low-income families, particularly in vulnerable renting situations, we’re going to be able to make a meaningful difference,” he said.

The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation has warned the country needs to build 3.5 million additional homes — on top of the current pace of building — to restore affordability by 2030.

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