Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was questioned about the government’s failure to heed the warning of public servants that immigration had long since outpaced the housing supply at a press conference on Thursday.

Freeland was speaking at Toronto’s Canary Landing, a recently constructed rental community downtown, to speak about the Liberal’s new plans to alleviate the housing crisis. 

“The job is getting done,” said Freeland in her opening statement about the government’s plans to incentivise construction on new housing, “and it’s being done in a way to really transform lives and build communities.”

“We can now tell you that more than 500,000 Canadians … have now opened a tax-free first home savings account, and that account only became available in the spring. So that is more than half a million Canadians who are one step closer to getting those first keys of their own,” continued Freeland. 

CBC reporter Simon Dingley then questioned her about why the Trudeau government ignored warnings from an analysis conducted by public servants over two years ago regarding the effects record-high levels of immigration would have on housing affordability. 

“As a country, Canada is probably the country in the world which is the most welcoming of new Canadians,” responded Freeland. 

“That is a huge economic strength. It is a real driver of our country’s economic growth … at a time when all of the industrialized countries in the world are facing huge demographic challenges, we are extremely fortunate … that we have the social capacity to welcome immigrants.”

“If we want to be a country that welcomes new Canadians — and I strongly believe that’s the right thing for all of us — we have to build more homes faster. And that’s one of the reasons I’m here. Our government is totally committed to getting more homes built for Canadians,” she added.

Canadian Press reporter Nojoud Al Mallees responded to her answer by asking about “tempering demand” in the housing market by lowering what are currently record-high immigration levels. 

“I think it’s important for us … to recognize the really positive role that immigration plays for our country,” answered Freeland, skirting the question. 

She went on to say that immigration is a strength for Canada’s economy and that it’s important that housing construction matches its pace.

“For immigration to work as a Canadian economic strategy, we have to make sure housing supply keeps up,” said Freeland. “And I do think we have to be sure that our immigration system is working as intended.”

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