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TAF statement on federal budget 2024: Ensuring affordable housing includes efficiency

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Toronto, ON — Julia Langer, CEO, The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) made the following statement addressing urban climate action in Canada’s 2024 budget announcement:

“Today’s budget featured significant investments focused on enhancing affordability and growing Canada’s housing stock. We see this budget as an opportunity to combine new housing goals with sustainability to deliver long-term affordability in cities.

“The successful Canada Greener Homes Program was replaced by a smaller $800 million Canada Greener Homes Affordability Program. The new version will advance national approaches to home energy labelling. With buildings as the leading source of emissions in Canadian cities, sustained funding is needed to support building owners to decarbonize and save on utility bills.

“We applaud new initiatives to support skilled trade workers, with $90 million allocated to the Apprenticeship Service, $10 million to the Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program, and $50 million to the Foreign Credential Recognition Program specifically targeting residential construction. The investment will improve the economics for entrepreneurs and SMEs to grow and scale their businesses. Cities and communities will rely on a vibrant network of new businesses to achieve and thrive in a net-zero economy, from managing clean energy to retrofitting buildings.

“Local communities will benefit from a $15 billion top-up for the Apartment Construction Loan Program, aimed at building a minimum of 30,000 new apartments. New rental housing is badly needed in cities, and communities will benefit from related job creation. However, it will be important to tie in low-carbon building design to ensure long-term affordability for future residents.

“We commend the introduction of the Permanent Public Transit Fund, which will grant funding to municipalities that commit to important criteria, including the elimination of minimum parking requirements and prioritize high-density housing near transit lines.

“Alongside updates on the design and implementation of the Clean Electricity investment tax credit, we also welcome the introduction of the new Electric Vehicle (EV) Supply Chain investment tax credit.

“A high-impact announcement that may have garnered less attention is the launch of a modernized Housing Design Catalogue, with the allocation of $11.6 million to standardize up to 50 efficient, cost-effective and livable home blueprints. Inspired by the success of Canada’s post-war housing catalogue of the 1950s, this will feature a range of repeatable designs that can be quickly deployed. This investment will spur building innovation, new jobs, and faster, more cost-effective housing.

“Overall, initiatives like the Canada Greener Homes Affordability Program demonstrate tangible steps toward realizing the cost-saving benefits that energy efficiency can deliver. We underscore the urgency for the government to support long-term affordability by prioritizing energy efficiency and clean electricity further. This budget misses several opportunities outlined in our 2024 budget recommendations, such as support for distributed energy resources and an incentive framework for heat pumps.

“Cities and local governments depend on stable, predictable funding and programs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. Moving forward, investments announced today must be leveraged to sustain that transition and support long-term affordability for Canadians.”
 
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