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Feds unveil Canada Builds as part of pre-budget housing package

Feds unveil Canada Builds as part of pre-budget housing package

TORONTO — The federal government has announced new measures to boost Canada’s housing supply including the launch of a new program called Canada Builds to build more rental housing.

The plans were announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 3, presented as plans from the upcoming federal budget scheduled for April 16.

Among the measures is a $15-billion top-up to the Apartment Construction Loan Program intended to support a minimum of 30,000 new apartments, bringing the total from the program to 130,000 new apartments within the next decade.

There will also be reforms to the program to broaden access. Changes include extending loan terms; extending access to financing to include housing for students and seniors; and introducing a portfolio approach to eligibility requirements so builders can move forward on multiple sites at once.

The reforms will also provide additional flexibility on affordability, energy efficiency and accessibility requirements, and launch a new frequent-builder stream to fast-track the application process for proven homebuilders, the government stated.

Canada Builds is intended to unfold in partnership with provinces and territories. The federal government is leveraging its $55-billion Apartment Construction Loan Program by making it available to support partnerships with provinces and territories that launch their own housing plans, similar to the recently announced BC Builds initiative.

As part of the plan, provinces and territories will be expected to meet the benchmarks set by BC Builds. The actions include complementing federal funds with provincial or territorial investments into housing; building on government, non-profit, community-owned and vacant lands; and streamlining the process to cut development approval timelines to no longer than 12 to 18 months.

“We’re making it easier, cheaper and faster to build more homes in Canada,” stated Trudeau in a release. “Today’s announcement will cut red tape, speed up development and build more homes, so that Canadians, from teachers, to nurses, to construction workers, can afford to stay in the communities where they work.”

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