Federal government will remove GST on new rental housing builds, senior source says


Published September 14, 2023 at 12:21 pm

The Liberals are insisting they can reverse their slumping poll numbers, as MPs gather for the last day of strategy planning ahead of Parliament's return next week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the construction site of an affordable housing project in London, Ont., Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nicole Osborne

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce Thursday that Ottawa is removing the GST on construction of new rental apartment buildings, according to a senior government source.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters that were not yet public.

The change would lower the cost of labour and materials for homebuilders, and is one of the components of an affordability announcement Trudeau was set to make in the afternoon, the source said.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne are also to be at the announcement in London, Ont.

That is where most of the 158 Liberal MPs have been gathered for a three-day retreat aimed at strategizing their approach for the return of Parliament next week. Trudeau has said his focus is on hearing what constituents are telling MPs.

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore said the talks have largely focused on affordability concerns and how the Liberals can better communicate what they’ve done to help with the cost of living.

He said climate change was a frequent topic in Wednesday’s meeting of MPs from all regions, with two more meetings of the national caucus planned for Thursday.

The Liberals have seen slumping poll numbers that suggest Canadians believe the Conservatives would do a better job dealing with affordability and housing concerns.

Quebec MP Steve MacKinnon said the party is trying to stabilize the housing market after a drastic rise in costs and interest rates, but the provinces also need to help.

“We clearly have to make some adjustments,” said the MP for Gatineau.

Meanwhile, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne rejected the idea that the Liberals are responding late to concerns about inflation.

“It’s always a good time to fight,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly pushed back on reports that MPs have come to London to blast Trudeau over unflattering polls.

“There’s no dirty laundry,” she said in French, arguing the COVID-19 pandemic was a much bigger challenge for her government than slumping poll numbers.

“We are used to going through crises,” she said. “We are in solution mode, and we’ll earn the trust of Canadians.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.

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