Significant improvements to community housing projects could seriously boost the Canadian economy while addressing the country’s housing crisis at the same time, according to a new report.

The report from Deloitte Canada, commissioned by the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, said 371,600 new community housing units are needed by 2030 to achieve the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average stock of seven per cent. Those extra units would in turn boost the economy by as much as $179 billion in 2030, the report said.

The research showed an improved community housing supply would help boost productivity by attracting skilled labour to underserved areas of the country, improving the well-being of those who live in community housing and reducing rent to improve human capital.

“Our Indigenous housing research shows that the return on investment in social and affordable housing programs is more than seven times the benefit over the cost,” Margaret Pfoh, president of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, said in a news release.

“Providing people with dignified homes is not only morally imperative, it’s the law. Human rights include the right to housing because housing is the foundation of everything and without it, the fabric of our society starts to disintegrate.” 

The report included five policy recommendations to boost community housing supply, including spending more on community housing projects and creating a pipeline for these projects, dedicating funding for off-reserve Indigenous communities, co-operation from stakeholders and all levels of government and promoting supply chain solutions.

“Canadian productivity growth has been a persistent challenge for several years and a better performance is crucial to raise the standard of living for Canadians,” said Matthew Stewart, director of financial analysis at Deloitte Canada.

“This study clearly shows how community housing availability can significantly contribute to improving Canadian productivity growth and through that the overall quality of life for Canadians.”

A report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation from last year showed Canada needs to add 3.5 million homes on top of planned projects to achieve affordability.