Question period got especially heated Monday in the federal House of Commons, as Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, accused a Conservative MP of spreading “misinformation and and disinformation” about the housing market.

The comments were made in response to criticism from Conservative Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman, who questioned a number of the initiatives the federal Liberals brought forth in the last Budget, including the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account

“Mr. Speaker, Millennials were told that if they got a bunch of degrees, a skilled trade, a good job, they’d have no problem owning a home, yet they still live in their parents’ basement,” Lantsman stated to the House. “The government’s signature housing promise to solve this is a new savings account, but you need $8,000 a year in savings to use it. To add insult to injury, the government says they’ll give you $500 towards a house you can’t afford, and that’s not a typo. The more they do, the worse it gets. When will the Minister actually help anybody in this country buy a home?”

Housing MinisterConservative MP Melissa Lantsman speaks to House of Commons during Question Period on May 10, 2022. Photo: CPAC Youtube

The account is designed to help first-time homebuyers save up to $40,000 tax-free, and will function like RRSP, meaning contributions are tax-deductible, and withdrawals towards the purchase of a first home will not be taxed, much like a TFSA.

Hussen appeared to take particular issue with Lantsman’s calculations, referring to previous allegedly incorrect claims made to the House in regards to affordable housing.

“Mr. Speaker, it is really difficult to take that number seriously on this issue, because she claimed in this house that we will not build a single affordable home in her region this year, when we know that the National Housing Strategy’s Rapid Housing Initiative alone has built 10,250 permanent, affordable homes, Mr. Speaker, including in her region,” he said. “So it’s really difficult to deal with misinformation and disinformation and talking down our housing market every single day from that side of the house.”

The Minister was also pressed by Conservative MP Adam Chambers of Simcoe North, who pointed out that as of 2015, Canadian house prices have doubled, and have risen 300% in Orillia, specifically.

“This government’s solution is to throw a few more billion dollars at the wall and see what sticks,” he stated to the floor. “But the shiny new tax-free home savings account won’t be available for at least one year, then you have to spend five years to deposit enough money to max out the program. Help is six years away, not today. This government is abandoning young people on housing. Why?”

Hussen countered by referencing the government’s Housing Accelerator Fund, which will bring forth $4B in funds to municipalities for the purpose of boosting housing supply.

“We know that supply is a big part of the challenge facing Canada -- Canada has one of the fastest growing populations of the G7 countries, but our housing supply hasn’t kept up with that. We are also helping first-time homebuyers and we’re making sure that we crack down on speculation and unfair practices in the real estate sector. On top of that, we’re doubling down and investing more in affordable housing,” he stated.

Hussen was also questioned by representatives from the NDP on the extent of speculative investment pushing up prices in the market. 

As reported by Global News, according to conflict of interest and ethics disclosures, one third of Liberal MPs own at least one secondary property for rental or investment purposes, along with 20% of MPs from all parties. This includes Hussen, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

READ: Freeland: Eroding Real Estate Affordability is ‘Intergenerational Injustice’

Affordable Housing