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Fighting for the middle class

Press Release

September 14, 2023
London, Ontario

A strong middle class means a strong Canada. At a time when global inflation has driven up the cost of necessities like groceries, and housing costs are too high for too many, people are worried about their families. The Government of Canada has been working to put more money back in the pockets of middle-class Canadians and remove barriers to build more homes, faster to drive down the cost of housing – and there’s more to do.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a suite of new measures to support the middle class and people working hard to join it. This includes action to build more rental housing, provide relief to small business owners, and drive down the cost of groceries.

To continue taking urgent action to drive down the cost of housing across the country, including for renters, the federal government:

  • will incentivize the construction of much-needed rental homes by introducing legislation to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the construction of new apartment buildings for renters. This is another tool to create the necessary conditions to build the types of housing we need, and that families want to live in.
  • is calling on provinces that currently apply provincial sales taxes or the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to rental housing to join us by matching our rebate for new rental housing.
  • will require local governments to end exclusionary zoning and encourage building apartments near public transit in order to have their Housing Accelerator Fund applications approved.

To support small business owners and their workers, who are at the heart of our communities and our economy, the Prime Minister also announced the government:

  • will make changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account program, a pandemic measure that helped small businesses stay afloat, including by extending the term loan repayment deadline by one year.

To address the escalating price of groceries for people, the Prime Minister announced that the government:

  • is calling for major grocery store chains to stabilize grocery prices in the near term. In recent years, large grocers have been making more money, all while the cost of groceries has risen drastically and families are struggling to put food on their tables. To address this, the leaders of the largest grocery chains in Canada have been called to an immediate meeting in Ottawa to begin discussions toward this goal. We are also looking at all tools at our disposal, and we are not ruling out the use of tax measures, in order to restore the grocery price stability that Canadians expect.
  • will take immediate steps to enhance competition across the Canadian economy, with a focus on the grocery sector, which would help drive down costs for middle-class Canadians. The government intends to introduce a first set of legislative amendments to the Competition Act to:
    • provide the Competition Bureau with powers to compel the production of information to conduct effective and complete market studies;
    • remove the efficiencies defence, which currently allows anti-competitive mergers to survive challenges if corporate efficiencies offset the harm to competition, even when Canadian consumers would pay higher prices and have fewer choices; and
    • empower the Bureau to take action against collaborations that stifle competition and consumer choice, in particular situations where large grocers prevent smaller competitors from establishing operations nearby.

Since 2015, the federal government has been working hard to put more money back in the pockets of Canadian families through the Canada Child Benefit, a middle class tax cut, and in the next few years, $10-a-day regulated child care on average right across the country. Last summer, during a period of the highest inflation in a generation, we acted fast to deliver relief to those who needed it most. As global inflation and the cost of housing continue to impact Canadians, we are continuing to take real action to make life more affordable and build an economy that works for everyone.

Quotes

“We made a commitment to stand up for the middle class, and we will not stop fighting until everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed. As we head into a new Parliamentary session next week, we remain focused on the things that matter most to Canadians: making life more affordable and creating good, middle-class jobs now and into the future.”

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“Our priority since 2015 has been to build a strong middle class so everyone can succeed, but there is more work left to do. The measures we are announcing today will make it easier to build more of the homes Canadians need and ensure our businesses and their employees can thrive—and we will continue working to deliver for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

“We need to change the economic equation so builders who are facing higher construction costs as a result of global inflation have the financial incentive to build projects that wouldn’t otherwise go forward. Removing the GST will encourage Canadian home builders to build more homes in communities across Canada, which will bring the cost of rent down for ordinary Canadians in communities across the country.”

The Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities

“Our government is taking concrete actions to stabilize food prices and improve competition in Canada. That’s why the industry needs to step up with meaningful solutions. But that’s not all. We also need updated tools to modernize our competition environment. Our government will continue to work day-in and day-out to bring relief to consumers and increase competition.”

The Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Quick Facts

  • To build more rental housing, the removal of GST will apply to new purpose-built rentals, meaning apartment buildings, student housing, and senior residences built specifically for long-term rental accommodation.
  • Launched in March 2023, the Housing Accelerator Fund is a $4 billion initiative from the Government of Canada that will run until 2026-27. It is designed to help cities, towns, and Indigenous governments unlock new housing supply – about 100,000 units total – by speeding up development and approvals, like fixing out-of-date permitting systems, introducing zoning reforms to build more density, and incentivizing development close to public transit. Local governments are encouraged to think big and be innovative in their approaches.
  • Launched during the pandemic, the Canada Emergency Business Account program provided interest-free, partially forgivable loans to nearly 900,000 small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to help them stay afloat and continue to contribute to our communities.
  • Today’s announcement builds on other recent measures to make life more affordable for Canadians, including:
    • Doubling the Goods and Services Tax Credit for six months to deliver immediate support to approximately 11 million low-and modest-income Canadians who need it most, and provide a one-time top-up of $500 to the Canada Housing Benefit, delivering $402 million to more than 500,000 individuals and 303,000 families as of June 7, 2023.
    • Making the Grocery Rebate available to approximately 11 million eligible low- and modest-income Canadians and families hardest hit by rising food prices across the country, with rebates ranging $234 for singles without children to $467 for families with two kids.
    • Enhancing the Canada Workers Benefit by introducing automatic advance payments, to put money in the pockets of Canada’s lowest-paid—and often most essential workers—faster.
    • Delivering regulated child care for $10-a-day on average in every province and territory in the coming years, and supporting the creation of more child care spaces by the Government of Quebec. Additionally, thousands of much-needed child care spaces have already been created in communities from coast to coast to coast.
    • Making Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans, including those currently being repaid, permanently interest-free, helping an average student loan borrower save $610 per year, based on current interest rates.
    • Increasing the federal minimum wage from $15.55 to $16.65 per hour, to keep pace with inflation and help make life more affordable for approximately 26,000 Canadian workers across the country.
    • Increasing Old Age Security benefits for seniors age 75 and older by 10 per cent as of July 2022, providing more than $800 in additional support to full pensioners.
  • A broad consultation on the future of the Competition Act was first announced in Budget 2022, and undertaken in 2023. The government plans to introduce comprehensive legislative reforms to the Competition Act in the coming months.

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