By: Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy
Housing affordability has become a pressing issue impacting communities of all sizes across Ontario. High housing costs are limiting the buying power of households and impacting businesses’ ability to attract and retain talent.
Attracting and retaining new talent to Oakville is of critical importance to Oakville Chamber members. By prioritizing the attraction of new talent to Oakville, we can minimize the potential challenges associated with a skills gap when a large portion of our labour force and knowledge base retires. Furthermore, to minimize the impacts of a rapidly aging workforce, a collaborative effort is needed to attract more people to Oakville as well as provide them with adequate options to live.
The Government of Ontario has committed to building 1.5 million new homes by 2031 to help mitigate this crisis, a goal that will require strategic action and significant collaboration across sectors and all levels of government.
To that end, The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released a report; Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario’s Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships, outlining opportunities for the private, public, and non-profit sectors to explore innovative partnerships and approaches to address housing affordability and supply, and recommendations to build on successful models.
The growing mismatch between housing supply and demand in our communities has made it more difficult for employers to fill labour gaps, particularly as the ability of virtual work continues post-pandemic. Advocating for government policy on skilled labour, housing and infrastructure has been a focus of the Oakville Chamber as all of these policy areas are connected and need government consideration.
In addition, housing development has not kept up with the pace of demand, and our socio-economic pressures from inflation and supply chain challenges further contribute to the cost of construction.
To ensure the long-term resilience of our economy, in its report, the Ontario Chamber calls on governments to balance consultation with bold action, such as ending exclusionary zoning and working in partnership with public and private partners to address labour shortages.
Further, the policy brief provides government and industry with a comprehensive list of recommendations under the following themes: Labour and Demographics, the Housing Continuum, and Infrastructure and Land Use Planning.
Future planning will require policymakers to take action to address skills mismatches and future workforce needs. This should include improvements to the immigration process as well as the recognition of international credentials to respond to chronic labour shortages.
Finally, we believe that a collaboration between all levels of government and the private and public sectors will be essential in developing an inclusive construction workforce, championing affordable housing solutions, and promoting “complete communities”.