Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, appeared on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin last week, revealing himself to be an out-of-touch fool on his own portfolio.
Let us remind Minister Hussen that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto and Vancouver hover around $2,500 a month. In Halifax, that figure is nearly $2,000, and in Calgary it’s $1,600.
The median after-tax household income in Canada is $73,000 – but people still need money left over for utilities, mobile phone plans, childcare, sky-high grocery and gas costs, car insurance and maintenance, and all of the other expenses life throws at us.
The average home price in Canada is $662,437, however homes in the Greater Vancouver and Toronto areas go for over a million.
Let’s debunk six claims Hussen has made about Canada’s housing crisis.
Claim 1: Canada “needs” immigrants to come build homes
“We have the fastest-growing population in the G7, but we don’t have the housing supply to meet that demand,” Hussen said.
It’s true, Canada does have the fastest-growing population in the G7, but it is nothing to be proud of. Our fertility rate is still at a record low of 1.4 children per woman – with expensive housing being a contributing factor to why Canadians delay or choose not to start families – so the Trudeau government imported about one million people in the year 2022 alone. This has caused a debilitating strain on housing, healthcare services, and other social services for the people who already live here, but the government only cares about how Canada’s economic growth looks on paper.
“People who are coming from the skilled immigration streams, a number of them are actually people who are coming to fill unfilled jobs in the building trades sector. So they’re actually coming to help us build more homes for Canadians. We need them!” Ahmed Hussen said.
His argument is that we need more immigrants to come build homes for all of the immigrants that Canada is taking in. Seriously.
Claim 2: Canada bans foreign ownership
Hussen boasted about bringing in a ban on foreign ownership by businesses and by individuals “to enable more Canadians to have more access to homes so that they can purchase them.”
However, there’s something he forgot to mention.
Last month, the government’s amendments to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act came into effect.
Now, non-Canadians who hold work permits can buy a residential property, and non-Canadians who wish to purchase residential property for the purpose of development will be permitted to do so.
Hussen’s amendments to the “ban” on foreign ownership have actually just made it easier for foreigners to buy Canadian properties.
Claim 3: He is contributing to the housing supply by owning an investment property
During his appearance on TVO, Hussen was called out by host Steve Paikin for himself owning an investment property, and asked if he felt “conflicted by being in that situation.”
“Not really… I’m happy to be contributing to that housing supply,” he replied with a smirk.
To this, housing expert and writer Neil Sharma told True North, “Hussen’s anodyne explanation is disingenuous because a landlord is still a speculator. They earn passive income by renting out their asset, which also appreciates the longer the speculator owns it.”
“Ergo, it isn’t just wildly inappropriate for the Minister of Housing to speculate on housing, it’s utterly venal… [he] should be solving the supply paucity, not profiting off of it,” says Sharma.
“As every speculator knows, the higher demand is relative to supply — which again is paltry, especially in cities like Toronto and Vancouver — the faster the asset appreciates… [Hussen] has every reason to hope the supply-demand imbalance continues because he’ll earn a pretty penny if it does.”
Claim 4: He is just “following the rules”
“I don’t think anybody’s suggesting you’re doing anything illegal, but, do the optics look weird?” Paikin asked Hussen about his investment property, noting that one-third of federal Liberal cabinet ministers are landlords.
“I think that you know, we’ve followed all the rules, myself and all my colleagues, we follow all the rules that are in place to report any assets that we own,” the Minister replied.
Wait, Mr. Hussen – don’t you make the rules?
I wonder if Mr. Hussen and his landlord-politcian colleagues would ever vote in favour of increased taxes on investment properties.
Claim 5: Home ownership is “still within reach” in the “majority of the country”
In March 2021, Hussen told the CBC that home ownership is “still within reach for many Canadians and in the majority parts of the country.”
It’s a comment that hasn’t aged well. True North reached out to Hussen’s office to ask if he stands by that comment two years later.
“Canadians across the country have seen the dream of home ownership fall out of reach, and this is unacceptable,” his Director of Communications Mahreen Dasoo responded.
I’ll take that as an admission of guilt.
Anyways, no one is denying that a Canadian making an average salary could afford a one-bedroom in some crime-ridden exurb.
The problem is more complex. People can’t afford to live in the communities where they grew up, where their family and friends are. They can’t afford to live close to where the jobs are. And because the feds keep printing money, by the time a young family might have a down payment saved up, prices will be out of reach again.
Claim 6: The Canada Housing Benefit is a helpful program
The Canada Housing Benefit is a payment of $500 to low-income renters. The federal benefit is for those with adjusted net incomes below $35,000 for families, or $20,000 for individuals.
If your household income is truly below $35,000 as a family with children, that $500 will temporarily feel good, but it doesn’t meaningfully solve anything. Seeing as the average rent Canada-wide is $2,000, an individual making $20,000 and living without roommates wouldn’t actually make nearly enough money to cover their own rent, nevermind other expenses such as groceries, transportation and utilities.
And despite Hussen’s claims that he is implementing measures to improve the housing crisis, it is only getting worse.
Day by day, rents and homes are getting more expensive, new people keep pouring into this country by the hundreds of thousands, and the Canadian standard of living diminishes.