Quebec Premier Francois Legault is facing criticism after claiming higher housing prices are necessary – as he does not want Quebec to “stay poor” in order for homes in the province to be cheaper than in Ontario and British Columbia.

“At some point you have to understand that if the average wage goes up, house prices will go up,” said Legault. “It’s a consequence of supply and demand. I don’t want Quebec to remain poor so that we can keep house prices lower than in Toronto or Vancouver.”

“It’s one of the negative consequences of economic well-being, but people on average have more money to buy a house,” he added.

Legault also said “we have to make sure we help those who haven’t benefited from these salary increases” find housing, noting that his government aims to “develop as much affordable housing as possible”.

Legault’s comments are, however, being criticized. 

“We can’t just target rising prices to say that things are fine if our people, our young families, our young people coming out of university aren’t able to live in the cities because it’s not affordable,” said Quebec City mayor Bruno Marchand when asked about Legault’s remarks.

“The government and the cities, we can’t just be satisfied with rising prices. We have to be better.”

Meanwhile, Quebec City councillor Claude Villeneuve described Legault’s claim as “nonsense.”

“It’s not true that wages and property prices are rising at the same rate. […] It’s nonsense to say something like that. It’s not a discourse that’s connected to reality.”

Legault was also criticized by Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime, who noted that politicians in Quebec recently voted to give themselves a generous raise.

“To paraphrase [Legault.], there’s nothing in a $400 or $500 a month rent increase when you vote yourself a $30,000 salary increase,” said Duhaime.

The current average house price in Quebec is $451,313, below the national average of $781,300. Ontario’s average house costs $928,897 while British Columbia’s sits at $1, 019, 145.

Quebec’s average household income before taxes is $77,306. Ontario’s is $97,856 and British Columbia’s is $90,354.

Legault’s office did not return True North’s request for additional comment in time for publication.