Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that London, Ont., is the first city in Canada to reach a deal with his government under the Housing Accelerator Fund.
He says the deal will create 2,000 new homes in the city over three years.
“This landmark agreement with London will be the first of many, and we look forward to working with all orders of government to help everyone find a place to call their own,” Trudeau said in a statement.
London Mayor Josh Morgan said he wants the city’s agreement to set an example for the rest of the country when it comes to building housing units.
“This is the most significant housing and housing-related infrastructure investment in London’s history,” said Morgan, thanking his staff and council for their work on the deal.
Morgan added that on top of the 2,000 homes the fund will help build over the coming three years, it will also help facilitate the construction of thousands of additional housing units “in the years to come.”
The Housing Accelerator Fund, first announced during the 2021 election campaign, and introduced in the 2022 federal budget, allocates $4 billion in funding until 2026-27 to prompt more homebuilding in cities.
The agreement with London will see the city get $74 million in funding, allowing it to approve high-density developments without the need for rezoning, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
The statement said the money will help the city:
- Encourage home building by allowing four units to be built on a single property in low-density neighbourhoods.
- More easily dispose of city-owned land for development.
- Create partnerships with non-profits.
The Liberal government says the Housing Accelerator Fund’s objective is to build 100,000 more housing units across the country than what would have been built without the fund by streamlining land-use planning and development approvals.
Municipal governments with a population of more than 10,000 apply to take part by pitching initiatives that will increase the annual rate of home building in their cities by at least 10 per cent.
The PMO statement says the fund encourages cities to build high density apartments around public transit to help seniors, students and families.
After announcing the deal Trudeau issued a challenge “to mayors right across the country to step up with their proposals to so we can get building more homes, increasing supply and lowering the prices for families,” he said.
Pressure to tackling housing affordability
Trudeau and his government have faced increasing pressure in recent months to deliver a response to the ongoing shortage of housing across the country. That pressure increased late last month after the Liberal cabinet retreat in P.E.I. ended without the announcement of new measures to tackle the crisis.
Earlier Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser told reporters that when his government came to office in 2015, the housing shortage overwhelmingly impacted low-income families but the situation has now “fundamentally shifted.”
He said the crisis is now hitting Canadians with variable-rate mortgages, who have seen their payments dramatically increase with the rise in interest rates, prompting a need for a “renewed focus” to address the crisis.
“It’s looking to build homes, not just for low-income Canadians in affordable housing projects, but across the housing spectrum,” he said.
Conservatives were quick to take aim at the Liberals following Wednesday’s announcement. The party released a statement suggesting Liberal housing policies have “failed” thus far.
“It appears that members of the Liberal caucus are just now starting to notice what their constituents have been facing,” the statement said.
Restoring housing affordability: report
The Liberals’ announcement comes as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released a new report estimating how many units are required to make housing affordable again.
The CMHC Supply Gaps Estimate report said another 3.5 million housing units are required by 2030, over and above the number of units expected to be built by that time, in order to restore affordability to 2004 levels.
The report updates the CMHC’s initial assessment from June 2022, when the housing agency said that gap was slightly higher, at 3.52 million housing units.
That report said that in 2003-2004, an average household in Ontario spent about 40 per cent of its disposable income to cover the annual costs of owning a house, while that figure was 45 per cent in B.C. By 2021, that had risen to 60 per cent.
The CMHC said while incremental progress has been made since last summer, housing in Ontario and B.C., where two-thirds of the 3.5 million extra homes need to be built, is not affordable.
Building the workforce
The renewed focus, Fraser said, would not contain a “silver bullet” but would require all levels of government, the private sector and the non-profit sector to work together.
It would also require measures that tackle some key problems, including:
- Providing some kind of financial relief to builders who have projects approved, but have had to put them on pause because of the impact of rising interest rates.
- Working with municipalities to speed up the issuing of building permits, and the time it takes to change “zoning practices,” to make it easier to build.
Fraser also said measures will have to be taken to “grow the productive capacity of the workforce” by training Canadians to work in construction, and by recruiting newcomers with much-needed skills.
“We’re going to be looking at everything we can do to build homes more quickly so we can make homes affordable for ordinary people,” he said.
'ET Canada' cancelled by Corus Entertainment, blames 'challenging' advertising market – CTV News
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Entertainment Tonight Canada to end after 18 seasons
Canadian media company Corus Entertainment has announced it is ending flagship entertainment program Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada after 18 seasons.
“The costs of producing a daily entertainment newsmagazine show in a challenging advertising environment have led to this decision,” read a statement posted on the company’s website on Wednesday.
“We recognize the impact this decision has on the dedicated team who have worked on the show and we thank them for their meaningful contributions over the years.”
The show’s final episode will air on Oct. 6, with reruns airing in the same time slot on Global TV until Oct. 31, a Corus spokesperson told CBC News.
The cancellation won’t impact Corus’s obligation to produce Canadian content under the rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the spokesperson said.
ET Canada’s website and social media platforms will also be shut down. The spokesperson declined to comment on how many people had been laid off as a result, but said the program’s hosts were impacted.
The network said it has no plans for another entertainment news show.
An hour-long, magazine-style show that focused on entertainment, celebrity, film and TV news, ET Canada began airing in 2005 on Global TV, which is owned by Corus Entertainment.
The program has been hosted by Canadian media personality Cheryl Hickey since its launch, with regular appearances by entertainment reporters, including Sangita Patel — a co-host since 2022 — plus Carlos Bustamante, Keshia Chanté and Morgan Hoffman.
The cancellation leaves ETalk, CTV’s weeknight show, as Canada’s lone major entertainment news program.
Andrea Grau, founder and CEO of entertainment publicity firm Touchwood PR, said ET Canada offered a Canadian perspective that made it stand out in the U.S.-dominated entertainment landscape.
“There was this great Entertainment Tonight brand that was going on in the U.S. — we all watched. And the idea of a Canadian arm of it was very special because it could give a different slant,” she said.
ET Canada’s demise comes during a major shift in the industry, she said, as publicists struggle to find entertainment outlets that can shine a spotlight on emerging Canadian artists and projects.
“Even though we share a language with the U.S. and we share pop culture, we are still Canadian and we have a different perspective,” Grau said, noting that ET Canada’s hosts were a mainstay on the U.S. press circuit.
“You see those relationships that have been built over the years of having Sangita [Patel] standing on a red carpet interviewing someone, or Cheryl Hickey interviewing someone. They’re recognizable to [celebrities] after all of these years, too,” she said. “They’ve created such a strong brand.”
Canada just had its lowest number of births in 17 years. What’s behind it?
The number of babies born in Canada dropped to a 17-year-low last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, data shows.
A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday showed there were 351,679 births registered across the country in 2022, which was a five per cent decrease from the previous year. This was Canada’s sharpest drop recorded since 2005.
Before 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was in 2005, with 345,044 babies born nationwide.
While the number of births in all provinces and territories declined last year, Nova Scotia was the notable outlier with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births.
The biggest decrease was in Nunavut, with the number of births dropping 11.8 per cent compared with 2021.
Canada, like many other developed countries, has been seeing declining birth trends over the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have kids, said Kate Choi, an associate professor of sociology at Western University.
“Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19,” she told Global News in an interview.
The high cost of living has magnified the size of the drop in births, Choi said.
“It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility,” she added.
It’s a concerning trend for Canada, according to Choi, who said decreasing birth rates have the potential to exacerbate population aging issues.
Canada is considered a low-fertility country and its fertility rate has been declining over the past decade.
The latest Statistics Canada data from 2021 reported a fertility rate of 1.44 children per woman that year — marking a slight increase following a steady decline since 2009.
The fertility rate is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, according to StatCan.
Lifestyle changes and work decisions are contributing factors, with a shift toward smaller families, said Mark Rosenberg, an expert in geography and professor emeritus at Queen’s University.
“I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s,” he told Global News in an interview.
There is also an increasing number of younger people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.
Despite the drop in births, Canada’s population has been growing at a “record-setting pace,” surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, due to a focus on increasing immigration.
Meanwhile, the StatCan report Tuesday also showed a rise in the proportion of babies who were born with a low birth weight — less than 2,500 grams.
Seven per cent of all babies had a low birth weight in 2022 compared with 6.6 per cent the year before.
Babies with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of complications, such as inhibited growth and development and even death, according to StatCan.
“When we see higher rates of low birth weight babies or higher rates of babies that are born who are overweight, those are issues that we should be concerned about because they reflect on people’s health,” Rosenberg said.
— with files from Global News’ Katherine Ward
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