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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Quebec budget fails at affordable housing

MRC des Collines Prefect Marc Carrière says that unless you already own a home in the Gatineau Hills, you may never get the chance.

His comments come just days after the Quebec government released its 2024 budget March 12, which included zero dollars for affordable housing in the Outaouais. 

And with housing prices rising and affordable housing units few and far between, Carrière said he worries how future generations will ever be able to afford buying a home. 

“It’s quite disappointing,” Carrière told the Low Down, arguing that people who don’t already own property in the Gatineau Hills are being pushed out of the region, as a lack of rental options has been plaguing the region for several years. 

“Every MRC is very disappointed, especially in the rural sectors,” he said. “Either you are an owner, or you are not in the rural sector. 

There are not very many rental units in the area of the MRC. That is quite an issue, so we are looking at ways to innovate with local municipalities.”

According to data from the La Table de développement social des Collines-de-l'Outaouais (TDSCO), housing prices have been increasing in the Hills over the past several years and owners are struggling to pay for them. 

The socio-economic development agency found that 15 per cent of MRC households, or around 3,000 residents, spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. 

The 30 per cent income-to-housing ratio is the threshold used by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to consider a home as “affordable.” 

What’s worse is the divide between homeowners and renters in the region, as the TDSCO reported 31.6 per cent of renters in the MRC des Collines spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, while just 13 per cent of those who own their homes spend as much on their mortgages.

Low Down readers may recall the front page story last November of Sam Maloney – the Wakefield mother of three who said she had to move out of Wakefield because of a lack of rental options in the Hills. 

She told the Low Down that she had “no options” and had to relocate 50 kilometres up the line to find something more affordable. 

“We know, the cities know, residents know that the cost of housing has increased dramatically over recent years and it’s had an impact on the housing prices, but it's also had an impact on the rental prices and on the availability of housing for a lot of people,” said Liberal MNA and official opposition critic for the Outaouais, André Fortin. “Some folks are finding themselves squeezed out of the market; there's a whole generation of Quebecers who are wondering if they'll ever be able to access homeownership.”

Fortin called the CAQ 2024 budget, with its $11-billion deficit, a “failure.” 

“When the CAQ government came in, they had a $7 billion surplus,” noted Fortin. “And in the budget they presented last week, they had an $11 billion deficit. They have not been good managers of public money in Quebec and have invested in things and some items that are very debatable.”

Fortin pointed to things like the $870 billion roof repair for Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and the $8 million the CAQ is spending to bring a Los Angeles Kings game to Quebec City. 

“That's money that could have been sent to food banks,” said Fortin. “It's money that could have been used to build more housing.”

Fortin said he wishes the province would get serious on affordable housing like Ontario did when it cut PST on affordable housing projects and building supplies. 

Neither our own MNA Robert Bussière, nor the Minister for the Outaouais Mathieu Lacombe, responded to the Low Down’s request for a comment on the budget. 


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