In the midst of a growing housing affordability crisis in Canada, a former federal cabinet minister is calling for different political parties and levels of government to work together on the issue.

Lisa Raitt, who served various ministerial roles under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, said finger-pointing between parties and jurisdictions must end if a solution to Canada’s housing problem is to be found. 

“The only entity that can put the pressure on different political parties to do that is the voter and the taxpayer,” she told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview Tuesday. 

“Once you step back, you’ve got to come up with solutions and Canadians are hurting and they’re terrified of their next time of renegotiating their mortgage.” 

Raitt, who is now vice chair of Global Investment Banking at CIBC, highlighted to two main factors she sees as driving Canada’s housing shortage: record immigration levels and housing demand. 

“We are on a bit of a burning platform right now and a little bit of it has to do with the higher rates of immigration and a lot of it has to do with the fact that there’s a great demand,” she said. 

A 2022 report from the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation found Canada needs to build 5.8 million new homes by 2030 to reach affordability. Meanwhile, housing starts declined by 10 per cent in July to 255,000.

Amid the housing crunch, Canada is boosting immigration levels to new heights to supplement the needs of the country’s aging workforce. With the government expected to announce new immigration targets on Nov. 1, Immigration Minister Marc Miller told Bloomberg last month he doesn’t think Canada is “in any position” to lower its goals. 

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg last month, former Liberal deputy prime minister Sheila Copps blamed the affordability crisis on decades of poor policy that began when provinces took over much of Canada’s housing policy in the 1980s.

Raitt admitted during her time in federal politics, housing was considered a provincial issue and did not have a national strategy. Now, she said, the problem has escalated. 

“We did give large sums that would be transferred to the provinces to deal with it, but it’s such a ubiquitous problem that everyone expects everyone to work together on it,” she said. 

With files from Bloomberg