Ottawa, ON — Housing, net-zero, and labour mobility. These are just some of the key highlights directly impacting the skilled trades and taken out of the federal government’s 2022 budget.
On April 7, Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, introduced the budget, titled A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable.
“Housing is a basic human need, but it is also an economic imperative. This budget represents the most ambitious plan that Canada has ever had to solve that fundamental challenge,” said Freeland.
The federal government made it known that addressing the housing issue in Canada was one of the main focuses of the budget. As a result, the budget featured a host of programs that invest in building affordable housing, retrofitting existing housing stock, creating new mechanisms for Canadians to buy a home, and limiting the impact of foreign buyers in Canada’s housing market.
“The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) has called for collaboration across all levels of government to address housing affordability, and especially housing supply, and for federal government leadership to help make that happen. With measures in this budget, this leadership is being established,” said Kevin Lee, CEO of CHBA in a press release.
New or enhanced measures include the introduction of the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account that would give prospective first-time home buyers the ability to save up to $40,000, which doubles the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit amount to $10,000 and doubles the qualifying expense limit of the Home Accessibility Tax Credit to $20,000.
The new Housing Accelerator Fund is set to receive $4 billion over five years to support and offer incentives to municipalities.
Additionally, the government proposed to extend the Rapid Housing Initiative, which funds affordable housing units; introduce a home renovation tax credit, which would provide up to $7,500 towards the construction of a secondary suite for a senior or an adult with a disability; and reallocate $500 million of funding from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to launch a new Co-operative Housing Development Program.
Some more highlights from the budget that directly addresses the housing issue include:
Providing $200 million over five years, starting in 2022-2023, to Natural Resources Canada to create the Deep Retrofit Accelerator Initiative, which will provide support for retrofit audits and project management for large projects to accelerate the pace of deep retrofits in Canada, including a focus on low-income affordable housing.
“While we’re pleased the government has identified the housing supply crisis and is acting, we need more information as to how these measures are going to accelerate the build of new housing,” said Richard Lyall, RESCON‘s president.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation are set to receive an additional $458.5 million, starting in 2022-23, to provide low-interest loans and grants to low-income housing providers as part of the low-income stream of the Canada Greener Homes loan program.
Transition to green
The Growth Fund will target $3 of private capital for every $1 that the government invests.
Additionally, the government will be allocating $183.2 million over seven years to the National Research Council to conduct research and development on innovative construction materials and encourage low-carbon construction solutions.
The budget lays out $150 million over five years, starting 2022-2023, to Natural Resources Canada to develop the Canada Green Buildings Strategy. The strategy will include initiatives to further drive building code reform, accelerate the adoption and implementation of performance-based national building codes, promote the use of lower-carbon construction materials, and increase the climate resilience of existing buildings, according to the budget.
The government also addressed several issues relating to labour in its latest budget. One measure proposed featured the introduction of a labour mobility deduction, which would provide tax recognition on up to $4,000 per year in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses for tradespeople and apprentices who travel, often to rural and remote communities, for work. The measure would apply to the 2022 and subsequent taxation years.
The budget proposed providing $84.2 million over four years to double funding for the Union Training and Innovation Program, which would help 3,500 apprentices from underrepresented groups such as women, newcomers, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, and Black and racialized Canadians each year to begin careers in the skilled trades through mentorship, career services and job-matching.
“The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is disappointed that today’s federal budget doesn’t include measures to help small businesses’ post-pandemic recovery. Small businesses continue to struggle after an extremely difficult two years and now face a host of higher costs and a mountain of COVID-related debt,” said the CFIB in a press release.
The 2022 budget also proposed providing $2.5 million in 2022-2023 for Employment and Social Development Canada to launch a new union-led advisory table that brings together unions and trade associations. In the coming year, the table will advise the government on priority investments to help workers navigate the changing labour market, with a particular focus on skilled, mid-career workers in at-risk sectors and jobs. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.