Former immigration minister Sean Fraser stepped into the role of Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities on Wednesday. With an estimated 5.8 million new homes needed across Canada by 2030, it’s safe to say that the newly-minted housing minister has his work cut out for him.

Bearing in mind the scale of the task at hand, Fraser is intent on maintaining momentum as he transitions into his new role.

"There are a number of priorities that I'm looking to advance, but my sense is making sure we get the things that are ready to go out the door quickly," Fraser tells STOREYS. “We've already had some conversations about the different programs that are ready to have projects announced or to have applications taken.”

READ: New Housing Minister Cautions Against ‘Closing The Door’ On Newcomers Amid Housing Crisis

He points to the Housing Accelerator Fund as an example.

“[It’s] in its infancy but has the potential to transform the way that municipalities actually approve projects and get them built,” he says. “Whether it's a community that is in need of support for additional units, or whether it's a city that needs to revamp its permitting process by adopting new digital tech to bring them into the 21st century -- these are the kinds of things that we're going to be able to unlock through the Housing Accelerator Fund, which recognizes that the solutions in a small town may not be the same as the solutions in a big city.”

housing minister sean fraser

Minister Fraser at Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony

housing minister sean fraser

Minister Fraser at Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony

Fraser also speaks to his intention to leverage his past work with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). He has already begun to deliberate with Minister Marc Miller, who was sworn in as immigration minister earlier this week, with respect to common goals and how the two ministries stand to collaborate in the months and years to come.

“We're going to work with IRCC to help establish models that will ensure that we're not just getting people to Canada, but getting them here in a way that they can be properly supported,” says Fraser.

In the process, he adds, there’s an opportunity to support the development community.

“When I talk to developers, one of the major constraints they have to completing projects that are otherwise ready to go is finding skilled workers,” says Fraser. “So we're going to work with the development community to make sure we have access to the talent as needed to grow the housing supply in this country. And Minister Miller will be well-positioned to work with me to help achieve those ends.”

Bigger picture, Fraser says he’s particularly excited about the opportunities that will come from the expansion of the housing portfolio to include infrastructure and communities.

“When we're able to listen to communities and understand that the solutions to their housing supply challenges may not necessarily be direct subsidies for affordable housing units, but might be investments in municipal infrastructure, whether it's transit or water and wastewater, that will unlock the potential to develop new areas that currently don't have housing,” he says. “This is a unique moment in time, but we've got an enormous opportunity to make a difference, and I intend to make the most of it.”

Photographs provided by the Office of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion