Moe accuses feds of intruding on provincial jurisdiction with housing funding announcements

Premier Scott Moe answers a question during the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Ches Leach Lounge on Thursday, April 4, 2024. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Premier Scott Moe blasted the federal government for a series of housing announcements made this week, and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “really wanting to be a Premier.”

Moe was responding to the federal government’s decision to create a $6 billion Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund to accelerate housing construction projects, and upgrade current units. Roughly $5 billion of that fund will be available for province’s and territories who commit to building more “missing middle” homes like duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and other multi-unit apartments, among other commitments.

Moe said housing investments are important, but the federal government shouldn’t be involved.

“This is an area of provincial jurisdiction,” Moe said during a stop in Prince Albert, where he spoke at the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. “I think more broadly, what we see with the federal government is a Prime Minister who is mistaking what his job actually is.”

Moe said the federal government would be better served by focusing on issues that affect all Canadians, like developing a stronger RCMP force, rather than announcing strings-attached funding for areas of provincial jurisdiction like healthcare, education, and housing.

Moe was also unhappy the government made the decision without notifying the provinces.

“They say want to work with the provinces and the provinces have a role. I would say if they are truly committed to working with the provinces, maybe you would have a discussion before you announce the program nation-wide over the course of two or three days,” Moe said.

The Daily Herald reached out to the federal Ministry of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities for a response, but did not hear back by press time.

In press release on April 2, Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities Minister Sean Fraser said no single entity can fill Canada’s housing shortage, which makes federal involvement necessary.

“There is more work to do, and the announcements made today will go a long way toward ending Canada’s housing crisis and ensuring that more Canadians have a place to call their own,” Fraser said in a media release.

Following the announcement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the new housing funding was about fairness, and ensuring all communities had access to safe, quality housing.

“We need more affordable homes, and we need the infrastructure to help build these homes,” Trudeau said in a press release. “That’s why in Budget 2024, we’re building more infrastructure, building more homes, and helping more Canadians find a place to call their own.”

Commitments to “missing middle” homes are just one of the assurances the provinces must give to get more funding.

Provinces must also adopt upcoming changes to the National Building Code to support more accessible, affordable, and climate-friendly housing options. They must also implement measures from the Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights and Renters’ Bill of Rights, and implement a three year freeze on development charges in cities with a population above 300,000.

Provinces have until Jan. 1, 2025 to secure an agreement with the federal government. If a province does not sign an agreement, the feds have promised to transfer the funding directly to municipalities.