As CAQ promises to build more homes, critics say it’s not doing enough

François Legault’s announcement also inspired questions about whether his party had followed through on a similar promise made in the 2018 election.


François Legault’s Coalition avenir Québec promises to build thousands of new affordable and social housing units if he wins a second term, but opposition parties and housing groups say that is far from enough.

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Although Legault has yet to officially launch the election campaign, he promised on Friday to finance 11,700 more units if the CAQ retains power on October 3. He also promised to subsidize the rent of 7,200 units.

In total, the CAQ promises to invest $1.8 billion to counteract the housing shortage in Quebec.

During a press conference in Laval, Legault said his finance and municipal affairs minister estimates Quebec will need 23,500 social housing units over the next 10 years.

“We took it upon ourselves, the CAQ, to assess the need for the next term at 11,700, about half of what is needed over the next 10 years,” Legault said at the event, where he was joined by CAQ candidates in Wash. .

Legault said he wants to work with cities to address the problem.

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“We gave the municipalities powers and we will give them even more,” he said. “It is important that the municipalities can have suitable land for the development of social and affordable housing.”

Legault also boasted that 15,000 units had been completed or were being built which had been suspended by the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard.

That claim was challenged by the housing group Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), which wrote in Twitter that less than a third of those units have been built and some of the projects are still threatened by lack of funding.

People take part in a protest led by Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) in 2019.
People take part in a protest led by Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) in 2019. Photo by John Kenney /Montreal Gazette Archives

Opposition parties also found the CQA’s promises insufficient.

Saúl Polo, a liberal MNA who represents Laval on horseback, said the province is short of 50,000 homes.

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“For the Laval region alone, we are talking about 10,000 families that have housing needs. We have 1,300 families that are currently on waiting lists for social housing,” she said in an interview.

“The prime minister is once again trying to minimize the needs and above all the impact of the housing crisis. It is another demonstration that he does not know and does not understand the housing needs of Quebecers”.

The Liberals promise to build 50,000 new units and tax owners of vacant units to put them on the rental market.

Québec solidaire also accused the CAQ of having denied the existence of a housing crisis in the last three years.

“François Legault is launching his campaign with a dank squib, promising 12,000 units while 37,000 people are on the waiting list and he hasn’t even been able to keep his promise from the last election,” said co-spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. in a sentence.

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Legault said waitlist numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as some people check in at multiple places at the same time.

While Legault has yet to announce an official start date for the fall election campaign, Quebec’s top party leaders have been touring the province for weeks making public appearances and nominating candidates.

Legault said the unofficial campaign, which started earlier than in previous election cycles, is a result of the province’s fixed election date, but said the ruling party has no advantage.

“It’s fair, because we all know that the general election will be on October 3,” he said.

Other parties are also announcing candidates and making election promises, Legault said. “We can see that it is not only the CAQ that is already in the pre-election campaign.”

For liberal Saul Polo, however, making an announcement like the CAQ on housing on the eve of an election campaign only fuels cynicism.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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