(Ottawa) Minister François-Philippe Champagne is putting pressure on the Competition Commissioner so that he uses his new powers to fight against “abuses” by large grocers… while ensuring that his independence is respected. Minister Sean Fraser wants to stimulate the construction of student residences. The cost of living still dominated the political debate when parliamentary work resumed on Monday.
The price of the grocery bill and that of housing continue to haunt the Liberal government while the opposition parties once again followed on its heels on the rise in the cost of living when parliamentary work resumed on Monday.
Mr. Champagne was one of five ministers who took stock of the government’s economic plan. He sent a letter to the Competition Commissioner urging him to “take decisive action, especially in the face of current high food prices”.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry notes lack of transparency from major grocers on the causes of food inflation and notes that they have not “provided regular updates” on their initiatives to stabilize prices. He is trying to attract a foreign grocery chain to stimulate competition.
The Competition Commissioner has had new powers since the adoption of Bill C-56 in December, including issuing subpoenas, blocking “mergers that do not benefit consumers” and examining practices abusive behavior of dominant companies in the market.
The Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Sean Fraser, for his part, announced the expansion of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s apartment construction loan program to student apartments.
During the last economic update, the government allocated an additional 15 billion from 2025-2026 to bring the total envelope of the program to 40 billion. He hoped to stimulate the construction of 101,000 new affordable rental apartments by 2031-2032.
Colleges, universities and private developers will now be able to apply for this subsidy program to build student residences.
Ministers Champagne and Fraser made these announcements as part of the weekly update from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland. As was the case last fall, the President of the Treasury Board, Anita Anand, also participated. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, was added on Monday.