CFIB says simplifying permits is a solution to Canada’s housing crisis

by Staff

Simplify the permitting process, and municipalities can help Canada’s housing shortage. That is the opinion of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in their Flushing out the nonsense report released on day one of Red Tape Awareness Week.

“Canada’s housing shortage has come to the point where buying a home in Canada is getting out of reach for most Canadians,” said Duncan Robertson, senior policy analyst at CFIB and co-author of the report. “This also makes it more challenging for small employers who struggle to attract employees in many cities across the country, as those employees cannot find affordable housing. Municipalities across Canada can do more to help address it. Making municipal permitting processes simpler and less costly is one important step in addressing Canada’s housing challenges.”

The CFIB report analyzed the required permits and costs in 12 major Canadian cities for a $20,000 project to convert a simple powder room.

Vancouver had the highest permitting costs, while Vancouver and Toronto had the most documents to fill out. CFIB notes the two cities also have both the highest home prices and the most significant shortages. 

The report found that, on average, a bathroom renovation needed seven documents. Combined permitting costs ranged from $180 in Charlottetown to $2,029 in Vancouver.

“If there are this many obstacles for a simple bathroom renovation, imagine how costly and time-consuming it is to permit a secondary suite, a complete renovation or a new build. Permitting costs and processes should be straightforward and affordable,” said Francesca Basta, CFIB’s research analyst and co-author of the report.

A CFIB survey showed that 80 per cent of businesses feel it should be a high priority for governments at all levels to review the necessity of all business permits and licenses.

The business advocacy group recommends municipalities cut red tape by reviewing their existing permitting and approval processes, establishing publicly available service standards for permit processing, and simplifying or automating some processes.

CFIB believes the provincial and federal government can eliminate red tape by tying future funding for housing and infrastructure to requirements for a low administrative burden and ensuring reporting requirements are set provincially where permit processing service standards are provincial as well.

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