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Canada announces new funding to tackle rent affordability and rising grocery prices

By Natasha O’Neill

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — Canada’s federal government has announced $99 million in new funding to tackle rent affordability and $5 million in annual spending to help investigate rising grocery prices.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne announced the new spending as part of Canada’s economic plan.

“We all know that housing is the central challenge in Canada right now,” Freeland said Tuesday morning. “It’s a central challenge in people’s lives, and this is especially true for Canadians who are struggling with the high cost of rent.”

The $99-million “top-up” to the Canada Housing Benefit will support low-income renters by “delivering rent support payments directly to Canadians,” a press release about the announcement explained.

Freeland also highlighted a recent $100-million commitment to emergency winter funding to help 85 communities provide more shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness.

“This investment will help shelters increase their capacity and deliver essential services like temporary rental assistance and hot meals, which is so crucial during these cold winter months,” Freeland said.

Ottawa is also attempting to address the affordability of groceries and other essential goods by tripling annual funding to $5 million for Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. On Tuesday, Champagne said this money will help create new projects in partnership with consumer advocacy groups to investigate price inflation and harmful business practices such as “shrinkflation” and “skimpflation” in grocery stores as well as “other forms of corporate greed” that have increased consumer prices.

“It is essential to increase competition to stabilize prices, and we need to use all the tools available to us to do so,” Champagne said during Tuesday’s press conference. “And the way to do that is to work in close collaboration with consumer advocacy groups across the nation, to be able to provide consumers with the resources they need to make informed purchasing decisions.”

The additional housing funds announced Tuesday will bring the Canada Housing Benefit to $325 million for 2023-24. The aid will be dispersed through provincial and territorial rent support programs. By 2027-28, the program will have made rent more affordable for over 300,000 low-income households, according to the federal government.

This funding builds on last week’s $362.4-million announcement to the Interim Housing Assistance Program, which provides resources to communities to shelter vulnerable asylum seekers.

“We know that many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet, struggling to juggle all of their bills at the end of the month, struggling to pay the rent, and that’s why we’ve put in place the measures I’ve announced today,” Freeland said. “We also know that we have an economic plan, and we have a lot more work to do on that plan to unlock a brighter future for everyone in our amazing country.”

Speaking to reporters at the Port of Montreal on Tuesday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre slammed the federal government’s handling of housing costs and inflation. .

“After eight years of Justin Trudeau, the cost of housing has doubled,” Poilievre said. “I would freeze spending and waste to balance the budget, and bring the cost of living down for workers, including at our ports.”

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