Post-secondary education and northern housing need strong federal support

The government’s legislation to implement their fall economic statement contains welcome measures to provide financial relief to post-secondary students and to begin addressing Canada’s housing crisis.

But PSAC emphasized these issues require more extensive federal action, in a submission to the Senate National Finance Committee study on Bill C-32, the 2022 Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act.  

PSAC fully supports the government’s proposal to eliminate interest on a guaranteed student loan under the Canada Student Loans Act.” The government had waived this interest temporarily, and we are pleased to see this now become a permanent measure. More needs to be done, however.

Underfunding of Canada’s post-secondary institutions has made getting an education increasingly more expensive for students and puts pressure on these institutions to keep workers’ salaries low.

PSAC once again called on the government to:

  • boost direct funding for post-secondary education;
  • improve the grants and loans funding model to provide more direct funding to students;
  • increase funding for Indigenous post-secondary education.

Bill C-32 also contains initiatives intended to assist with housing affordability and availability. These include the doubling of the First Time Homebuyers’ Tax Credit, a new Multigenerational Renovation Tax credit and an annual tax on underused housing.

While the government describes these initiatives as a plan to make home ownership more accessible, they will not do enough to make housing affordable and available for both homeowners and renters, particularly in our northern communities.

Households across the north face problems related to adequacy, affordability, and suitability. Overcrowding is widespread, made worse by the increasing cost of living and growing food insecurity.

Canada Mortgage and Housing’s 2021 Northern Housing Report confirmed some of the critical challenges facing territorial residents. The report finds that affordable housing is out of reach for many households without financial assistance in Whitehorse, while housing affordability is impacted by an expanding senior population in Yellowknife, and the younger residents face significant market affordability challenges in Nunavut.  

The federal government must commit the necessary resources to ensure all northerners have access to affordable and adequate housing by national standards and building codes within a short, defined period.

PSAC supports the proposals put forward in the Alternative Federal Budget 2023, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, including revamping the National Housing Strategy and to meaningfully re-engaging the federal government in developing more community, social and co-op housing, among other initiatives.

Read PSAC’s full submission.


December 20, 2022