Trudeau said what to whom with how much?

This week: Highlights from last week’s federal budget that could be helpful to Toboggan Flats.

The day before the budget dropped, the Prime Minister did something rare. There he was at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce talking about Gen Z. He was not talking to a youth congress—his go-to place when talking about plans and policies important to young people. No, he was talking to business people, setting us for what Global TV called the “Youth Budget.”  Here is a quick excerpt.

The Speech

“Millennials and Gen Z now make up the majority of Canada’s labour force. They are our economy. Everything that is created, built, served and sold in this country is increasingly being created, built, served and sold by Millennials and Gen Z.

So their success is going to be our success, Canada’s success. But these younger generations started adulthood with compounding economic crises. Millennials entered the workforce in the wake of the financial crisis, as housing prices started to go up and up.

… This is a resilient group, but they are now facing a massive cost-of-living crisis. Skyrocketing housing prices are disproportionately affecting them. Rents are going way up, and over half of people between 25 and 34 are renters.

… Our country cannot succeed unless young people succeed. And more, our country cannot succeed unless young people can imagine themselves succeeding. And they just don’t feel that right now. You all know that an economy is only as strong as it is optimistic.

We all know businesses that find a perfect applicant, but that person can’t accept the job because local housing prices are too high. Or about people stuck in too-long commutes, which isn’t any good for productivity.

And we recognize when too much take-home income is going towards housing costs, that’s money not spent in the broader economy, money not invested in starting a small business, money that’s not stimulating or spurring our economy.

That’s why we’re stepping up to meet the moment and solve the housing crisis.”

The Budget

It’s now clear that all the federal parties see housing as the number one priority for Canadians. The words “generational equity” rang out loud and clear throughout the budget. That’s a huge shift in language. 

Here are some of the budget measures relevant to Toboggan Flats and co-living:

  • $55 billion for an Apartment Construction Loan Program—co-living is apartment living with a communal twist.
  • An additional $1 billion for the Affordable Housing Fund, a $13.2 billion program providing low-interest or forgivable loans and contributions for new and repaired affordable and community housing. Toboggan Flats is focused on repairing and repurposing existing assets.
  • As the demand for retail and office space has changed due to COVID-19, some landlords, particularly in major urban cores, are facing higher vacancies. This is an opportunity for property owners and communities to explore converting excess space into rental housing, enhancing the livability and affordability of urban communities. That’s what Toboggan Flats is all about, but we repurpose vs. convert, and that’s cheaper and faster.
  • We will also double our existing Budget 2021 commitment to $600 million to support the conversion of empty office and retail space into market-based housing. We’re also committing $1.1 billion over 10 years to transform 50 percent of the federal office portfolio into housing. We will also work with municipalities to create a fast-track system for permits to allow faster conversion of existing buildings, helping maintain the vibrancy of urban communities. Yes to federal buildings. They could be perfect for co-living!

These are bold, tangible commitments to affordability and increased housing supply. Now we need governments at all levels to open themselves up to ideas and innovations that can get housing units built to meet the housing challenges facing young Canadians today… not five or 10 years from now. 

Please share the word about Toboggan Flats and co-living, and help us access funding to build affordable co-living housing for young people in downtowns across Canada.

Up next week: Launching the National Youth Housing Studies with our friends.