Politics

Tories demand early return of committee to study housing crisis

Conservative Finance critic Pierre Poilievre is demanding that the House Finance committee return from its holiday break early, so it can tackle the ballooning cost of housing in Canada.

“It’s time for politicians to get to work,” he told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday. “We’ve been on vacation now for three weeks, and (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) wants another nearly four weeks before the House comes back.” 

The 12-member committee consists of six Liberals, four Conservatives, and one member each from the NDP and Bloc Québécois.

The chair, Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, can recall the committee early if at least four members from at least two political parties ask him to.

Committees can hold meetings when the House is adjourned, but must give members at least 48 hours’ notice.

Fonseca didn’t respond to iPolitics’ request for comment.

The NDP has asked Trudeau to recall Parliament sooner than its scheduled return of Jan. 31 to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases.

During the 2021 federal election, the Liberals promised to increase housing affordability and supply, but last month’s fiscal update didn’t specify how they intend to accomplish that. A Dec. 20 RBC Economics report warned that housing affordability had reached its “worst level in 31 years.”

The average price of a home in Canada is about $720,000, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. 

Housing prices rose by nearly 12 per cent year-over-year in November, according to a Statistics Canada report.

Poilievre said young and low-income Canadians have been priced out of the market.

“Canada has a housing-inflation crisis,” he said. “At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the national average price for a home was $540,000. In November 2021, (it) was $720,850 — a 33 per cent increase.” 

When it returns, one of the first items on the Finance committee’s agenda is to hold pre-budget consultations.

With files from Janet Silver.

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