The federal government is giving post-secondary institutions access to cheaper loans to try to spur the construction of student housing and relieve pressure on the rental market in college and university towns.
“Canada needs more student housing and we’re going to help build it,” said Housing Minister Sean Fraser at a news conference in Ottawa on Monday.
Post-secondary institutions will be eligible for the “apartment construction loan program” to build rental units on and off campus. The application process is expected to open in the fall.
“This is going to have a positive impact because universities and colleges often times own wide swaths of land,” Fraser said.
“Nonprofit builders and private developers will also be able to build student residences on or near campuses as a result of the policy change,” he added.
The expansion is building upon an announcement last September. Ottawa unlocked $20 billion in low-cost financing for rental construction by raising the limit of the Canada Mortgage Bonds program from $40 billion to $60 billion.
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The Liberals say the new funding will encourage the construction of apartment building, seniors’ residences and student housing and add 30,000 rental units to the market and alleviate a national housing crisis.
Developers insist red tape and high interest rates are some of the biggest roadblocks to new construction projects.
Fraser said the low-cost loans will “make it easier for them to build more quickly,” help students find more affordable housing closer to their schools, and ease demand in communities that see their populations swell in the fall.
Fraser made the announcement as MPs return to Parliament after a six-week break and as the Liberals face mounting pressure to address Canada’s housing shortage.
Last week, Ottawa put a two-year cap on the number of international students, which the federal government says will reduce demand, particularly in provinces like Ontario.
The Liberals continue to slump in the polls with the Conservatives leading in every region of the country, except Quebec, according to Abacus Data’s latest tracking numbers.
Polling by Ipsos exclusively for Global News on Monday suggested while Conservatives still hold the lead, the Liberals have reduced the double-digit Tory lead to single-digits.
On the first day back in the House, Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre picked up where he left off, blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the housing crisis and making life less affordable.
“In this session in Parliament we will fight to axe the (carbon) tax, build the homes and fix the budget and stop the crime,” Poilievre said.
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