Question Period: Affordability for Canadians

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate, and it is on the topic of affordability. Let me start by painting the context of where we are.

I note several measures — from recent years — to help make life more affordable: the Canada Child Benefit in 2016; the National Housing Strategy in 2017; the increase to the Canada Pension Plan in 2019; and the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan, which is the national child care program that went into effect a couple of years ago, and we’re considering the bill related to this now.

Earlier this year, Parliament passed bills on the Grocery Rebate, the dental plan for children and the Canada Disability Benefit. All of these measures help Canadians in this affordability crisis. Perhaps you can tell your government to talk a bit more about some of these measures that they have taken so that we have a better idea of what they have done.

My question is simple: What other measures is the government planning? Would you consider price controls, perhaps, on basic Canadian groceries, or working with provincial governments to have strong national rent control?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The government is considering many possibilities to address the affordability challenges that many Canadians are facing. Indeed, the government announced earlier this week that they will be introducing a bill in Parliament soon to address aspects of this issue. When that bill is introduced, we’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the plans and to study it.

It is public knowledge that, in addition to other measures, the bill will include modifications and amendments to strengthen our competition law, which is one aspect of ensuring that — through robust competition — prices can be controlled. But as for the specific question, all issues are being discussed, and when the government is in a position to announce further measures — whether through legislation or otherwise — it will be announced.

Senator Cardozo: Indeed, sooner rather than later would be nicer.

For my supplementary, Senator Gold, let me drill down a little further on the issue of housing with regard to affordability.

At the Progressive Senate Group retreat earlier this week, we heard from housing experts who put forward several recommendations. Indeed, the government has made two announcements in London, Ontario, as you mentioned, last week. Let me ask you about one particular one. Would the government consider measures such as requiring universities and colleges to ensure that they provide housing for all international students when they admit them?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. Again, I do not know what — and I’m not able to provide information as to what the government may decide to do, only to remind senators that, as I sometimes am at pains to do, jurisdiction over universities and colleges is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. But the levers that the government has at its disposal under our constitution are being examined carefully in all areas so as to allow the government, in a robust way, to do what it can — its part — in addressing affordability and housing issues in Canada.

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