MP Sophie Chatel: Fall Economic Statement will impact housing, daily living
The federal government’s 2023 Fall Economic Statement was made public on November 21. The statement provides an overview of Canada’s economic situation and introduces new measures geared towards supporting employment, housing and addressing rising costs of everyday living. The Post spoke with Pontiac MP Sophie Chatel about what impacts the new measures will have.
Affordable housing is one of the major priorities for 2023-2024 and the federal and provincial governments have both invested an additional $900 million in housing development in Quebec. Chatel said she has been speaking with developers and that there is a growing interest to build in the Pontiac, “Now that the population is growing, there is a great opportunity to increase our housing stock and welcome new residents,” said Chatel. However, she added that infrastructure upgrades for drinking water, electricity, wastewater, road and internet service are needed to accommodate new housing projects.
While new infrastructure funding was not included in the statement, it said it will be announced in the 2024 budget. As the chair of the Rural Liberal Caucus, Chatel said she has been advocating for increased infrastructure investment and is confident that the new budget will include the support needed for new development in the Pontiac when it is announced next spring.
Mortgage interest rates are forecast to start going down by mid-2024 and requirements and application processes for new mortgages will be streamlined and simplified. A new Canadian Mortgage Charter was also announced. While the charter is not law, it lists clear expectations and guidelines for how banks should treat borrowers struggling to pay their mortgage. New co-op rental housing developments will also no longer be charged GST.
To address the rising costs of daily living – especially food prices - Chatel said there will be major amendments to Canada’s competition laws, “The current situation has led to a system where grocery chains control the price of food and food inflation is completely passed on to consumers. We want to break this cycle by increasing competition and leaving room for small grocers to provide more affordable food.” She said the government will also continue to meet with big grocery chains to address inflation in food prices.
Chatel highlighted additional developments that she expects will be relevant for the Pontiac including removing barriers to labour mobility within Canada – particularly in construction, childcare and health care. The repayment deadline for CEBA loans to qualify for a partial loan forgiveness of up to $20 000 is being extended to January 18, 2024, and four additional weeks of employment insurance benefits were announced for seasonal workers such as those in the tourism sector.
There will also be a 30% tax credit for biomass systems that produce electricity or heat from organic waste and a new program will provide households with up to $15 000 plus a $250 payment incentive to switch from oil to electric heat pumps.
While the Canadian Journalism Labour Tax Credit program was expanded, Chatel said that the changes are unlikely to benefit smaller community newspapers and radio and has been advocating for new measures to support local media.
To view the 2023 Fall Economic Statement and read about other programs and measures visit www.budget.canada.ca/fes-eea/2023/home-accueil-en.html .